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Air Travel Container Requirements

Date updated: 29/08/2023

The requirements for your pet's air travel container are set by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). ​Airlines have a legal obligation to ensure that your animal flies in accordance with the legislation but the owner and the person transporting the animal is also responsible. We also advise you employ the services of a pet shipper who is a member of the International Pet Air Transport Association (IPATA). Your IPATA pet shipper will be able to supply a suitable air travel container.

The following information is for guidance only and is not a complete description of the requirements. Ask your agent or airline for further advice or email the team.

Watch the Pet container requirements video.

It is an offence under the Welfare of Animals (Transport) (England) Order 2006 not to comply with the IATA Live Animals Regulations.

​The animal must be able to sit, stand, lie down and turn around, all in a natural position. Measure the length of your animal’s body from the tip of the nose to the base of the tail and add to this the length of half the elbow. This is the minimum internal length of the container and will enable to the animal to lie comfortably with the front legs out in front. The height of the container must be no less than the height of the animal from the floor to the highest point of the animal.

​Travelling containers for dogs and cats can be plastic or made of solid wood or plywood, but must be suitably robust. Wooden containers must have a 2.5cm x 7.5cm lumber frame, with sides made of wood or plywood with a minimum thickness of 12mm for dogs, and 6mm for cats.

Plastic containers must be properly constructed and secured, with the door hinge and locking pins that engage the container by at least 1.6cm beyond the horizontal extrusions above and below where the pins are fitted.

Both wooden and plastic containers must have at least 16% ventilation provided by openings of a minimum of 2.5cm diameter over the upper two thirds of both sides and the opposite end to the door. The door or ventilation openings can be covered by closely spaced metal bars or double weld mesh of 2.5mm or thicker for dogs, and 2.0mm or thicker for cats. The container must be 'nose and paw proof'. This means your pet should not be able to put its paws or nose through any of the openings.

​A maximum of two adult animals of comparable size and up to 14kg each, that are used to cohabitation, may be shipped in the same container. A maximum of three animals up to six months old and from the same litter, may be shipped in the same container.

Only animals of the same species may share a travelling container and the container must be of sufficient size to allow each animal the space as described above.

If two animals are sharing a travelling container a good guide to the container size is to have three times the width of the largest animal.

If three animals are sharing a travelling container a good guide to the container size is to have four tiems the width of the largest animal.

​Place absorbent bedding in the container. Using the animal’s own bedding will help to reduce stress. Feed your animal only a small meal and short drink at least two hours before travel and exercise the animal immediately before dispatch.

Provide a water pot that can be filled from the outside in case of delay. If you want your animal to have water during the flight, put only a small amount in the dish so that it does not spill, or use ice that will melt slowly. Your animal will be given water and wet food upon arrival at HARC. If your animal has specific nutritional or medical requirements, attach clear instructions with any medication or food, securely to the travelling container.

For medication instructions, please tell us the name of the medication, what it is for, the quantity required, the London time it needs to be administered and write a signed letter of consent.