Airline Cargo Pet Crates: Is Your Dog or Cat Crate IATA Compliant?

pet crate

Pet Travel is all about keeping your dog, cat or other pet safe. Although commercial airlines have stringent rules in place regarding live animals, pet owners should do all they can to provide a crate that withstand handling and offer every protection available for their pet. The first step is to get an airline cargo pet crate that is both airline and IATA compliant to keep their pet safe during their journey.

If you already have a crate for your pet, here are the requirements that your airline will be looking for when you check in your pet. If you do not have a crate, consider a Petmate Sky Kennel as this crate conforms to IATA Live Animal Regulations and is one of the best premanufactured kennels available today.

What is IATA and why are their regulations important?

Over 95% of commercial airlines operating today adhere to the Live Animal Regulations (LAR) of the International Air Transport Association (IATA). If your dog or cat will be flying in the cabin or cargo hold of a commercial airplane, then the pet crate it will travel in will be subject to these regulations for the movement of live animals. Your pet will also be subject to Animal Welfare regulations which vary depending on the country in which your airline is based.

For this article, we focus on crate requirements for cargo travel in an aircraft and premanufactured plastic crates as they are the most available to pet owners.

What are the IATA requirements for airline cargo pet crates?

Your pet’s crate must be a closed container made of fiberglass, metal, rigid plastic, solid wood or plywood. This article will address rigid, plastic pet crates only. The specs for wooden crates depend on the animal being transported.

Measure your pet

The first step to consider when getting a pet crate is to measure your pet. If you have a crate from a previous trip, make sure that your pet still fits in the crate and has not grown out of it. This is one of the first things that airline representatives will check for, and they will deny boarding if your pet’s crate is not appropriate for its size.

Note: If your pet is a snub-nosed breed, it will need one crate larger than normally required that will offer additional ventilation.

Your cat or dog must be able to stand up and turn around comfortably in the crate. Their ears (if erect) or the top of their head must not touch the top of the crate when they stand on their pet crate’s pad. The length of the crate must accommodate their body length when standing.

RELATED:  More details on measuring your pet for its crate.

Crate Structure is essential

Your pet crate must be well constructed and able to withstand freight activities. Your dog or cat is most at risk during travel if your crate is damaged allowing your pet to escape.

pet crate corners

All hardware required to secure both halves of the crate must be present and installed. Most crates come with sturdy plastic hardware. Most airlines will require that your pet’s crate be secured with metal hardware.

Openings should be present on each corner of the crate allowing the door to be zip-tied closed. The door of the crate must also be zip-tied closed after the interior of your crate is inspected by airline representatives.

The interior of your dog or cat crate must have no sharp edges or protrusions that could cause injury to your pet. Do not put any toys, chews or other items in the crate with your pet.

The floor of the crate must be clean, leak-proof and solid. Absorbent bedding such as a pet pad or shredded newspaper must be provided. Pet owners should be aware of restrictions imposed on their destination country – straw, litter or wood chips should be avoided. Wheels must be disabled or removed prior to check-in.

Crate ventilation is crucial

The sides of your pet’s crate must be solid with adequate openings over the upper two thirds of the crate measuring a minimum of 1″ (2.5 cm) for ventilation. Openings must be 4″ (10 cm) apart (center to center). There must also be ventilation holes on the fourth (back) side if your dog or cat is traveling internationally.

pet crate forklift riser ridge

On larger crates where the total weight exceeds 132 pounds (60 kg), then 2″ thick (5cm) forklift spacers running down the sides of the crate are required. Smaller crates should be equipped with handles or means for handlers to move the crate safely.

The roof of your pet crate must also be strong. Ventilation holes on the top of the crate should be avoided as they can compromise the strength of the roof.

Crate doors should be impossible for even the sneakiest of pets to open

Doors are the greatest vulnerability of any pet crate. Not only are they an external part of the crate, their mechanisms will be the most likely to fail should the crate be mishandled. For these reasons, IATA is very specific about crate door requirements.

pet crate door hinges

One end of the crate must be fully open for a door which can be sliding or hinged. Thick, welded metal mesh must have openings that are nose and paw proof. This will mean openings in the mesh of no more than 3/4″ (19mm) for cats and 1″ (25mm) for dogs. The door can also be made of plastic if the hinges and locking pins are metal and there is no way your dog or cat can compromise the strength of the crate door. The door hinge and locking pins must be seated in the container a minimum of 5/8″ (1.6 cm) above and below the door opening.

NOTE: If your pet is flying with British Airways, mesh must be secured to the door of the crate and attached over the ventilation holes to provide additional “paw and nose” protection. Your agent should be aware of this and can assist you in complying with this additional requirement.

Water/food bowls must be present and accessible to handlers to refill. Bowls that attach to the door of the crate are ideal for this purpose and work best on rigid, plastic pet crates.

Crates must be labeled with Live Animal Stickers as well as a Shipper’s Declaration sticker with feeding and watering instructions.

RELATED: Acclimating your pet to its crate

See more information on CR 82 crates for dangerous dog breeds.

Take a moment to consider how important your pet’s airline cargo crate is to the safety of your pet. This is not a part of your budget where you want to cut corners. When you are sitting in the cabin thinking about your pet flying in the cargo hold, you want to know that you have done everything you can to keep your pet safe. The airlines will do the rest.

All crates and accessories mentioned here can be found at


Airline Cargo Pet Crates: Is Your Dog or Cat Crate IATA Compliant? — 138 Comments

  1. Shara – there are no requirements for temperature regulation crates. This is a common ask from a pet scammer. Do not send them any money. There is no pet coming.

  2. Should Huskies pups ever require temperature regulation crate in australia.. this company isnt online and only emails..

  3. Cynthia – are you researching airlines flying out of Lima? Are you speaking with the airline’s cargo department? Have you contacted Copa, Avianca and LATAM Peru?

  4. Hello, I am traveling from Peru to Miami with my golden retriver that is 79.36 pounds and her crate is 38.1 Lb. The airles says the max weight between the crate and the pet cant exceed 101 lb. Are there any way I can bring can dog? Can somebody help me ?

  5. Cinthia – your Lab will need to fly in a crate similar to the ones shown here: As to routing, you need to stay on the same airline for the entire flight. You may want to consider Lufthansa through FRA or KLM through AMS. As long as your Lab stays on the same airline and the layover is not over 3 hours, the airline will transit it as checked baggage through the layover country. Be sure and avoid London as a layover city.

  6. Hello,
    I have a 6 year old Labrador that I want to flight from Mexico to Ireland. Could you recommend a kennel? and which country will be better to have the connection flight?
    Best regards.

  7. You can discuss this with your airline’s cargo department. The crate must conform to IATA LAR Container Requirement 11D. The only other option would be a metal crate, but that is likely overkill. The ventilation holes must not be big enough to get the beak through.

  8. If I customized my own crate, where would I take it to be inspected or approved? You have to understand, a macaw uses 2X4’s as chew toys and devours them in no time, a wooden cage for an 18+ hour flight wouldn’t stand a chance. His favorite food is brazil nuts in the shell. You are correct that beak is destructive.

  9. Mr. McCleign – the crate should be made out of wood and must have a round perch or rails affixed to the floor. The openings must be covered by an open-weave cloth like cheese cloth. Water bowl just have flanged sides and be small enough so that the bird cannot wet itself. Seed can be provided depending on the length of the trip. If your agent is having the crate made of wood, then the price may be justifiable. We would not recommend customizing a plastic crate for this species due to their powerful beak.

  10. Are there special adaptions that have to be made to a kennel when a macaw is being shipped? I know he needs an extra large kennel, but the Pet Relocation company is charging me $800 for this crate. Can I buy the kennel and make the adaptions myself?

  11. NO, this is a classic sign of a pet scammer. The airlines will not permit a crate with any type of fan or temperature control device on it.


  13. Lorrae – bunnies can fly on planes, and can fly in the cabin on WestJet. (not many airlines will allow rabbits in the cabin.) If you are not flying with the pet, then it must fly as air cargo.

  14. Hey, I am just curious about flying with a bunny. I live in Saskatchewan and found the bunny I want but its only in Ontario.
    1. are they allowed on planes?
    2. would that be to hard of a flight for a bunny under 6 months of age?

  15. Ana – very likely BA will not transport your Bull Terrier as it is considered a dangerous dog. United will require a CR82 crate. Iberia will transport them as air cargo as long as they are muzzled. You can also try Swiss Air.

  16. Hi ! I live in Brazil and I am moving to UK on the next few months. I have a 6 years old Stafford Shire Bull Terrier and his weight is 20 kilos.
    I have just bought a PET MATE ULTRA VARI KENNEL according to IATA requirements and I now i have just read the some airlines also requires a IATA CR 8-2 related to some breeds considered aggressive. My dog is not aggressive at all, but I am afraid he will not be able to travel with the pet mate ultra vary kennel. Could you please help me clarifying if British airlines also requires a IATA CR 82 for sttaford shire ? would you be able to tell me which others airlines could accept this kennel i have bought? I really would appreciate to have any help. Thanks in advance ! Kind regards !!!

  17. Ryan – you can find requirements to import your dog to the Philippines here and there are links to further instructions and forms if you need them: The cost will depend on the size and weight of your dog, the airline you choose, your route and whether it is flying as checked baggage or unaccompanied air cargo. It is best to look for an airline that flies the entire route and contact them for the cost.

  18. I have a 95lb dog that I wish to take with me to the philippines, do you have any idea how much will they charge me?

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