Focusing on animal safety and welfare, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) defines Live Animal Regulations (LAR) for flying with pets. In fact, the IATA is also responsible for the carriage of humans, since after all, we’re animals too! IATA is a trade organisation representing the major global airlines, all of which must adhere to the IATA pet travel policy. In addition, pet cargo companies that transport live animals to and from the plane have to do so in line with IATA rules. The IATA Live Animal Regulations (LAR) for 2022 address vital aviation issues, such as passenger and animal safety, and consumer protection. However, you’ll find that all airlines have their own unique pet travel rules, while each country sets specific pet entry laws. The IATA LAR 2022 also defines the types of pet carriers that may be used for flying pets in the passenger cabin or hold. You’ll find that there are very specific requirements set for IATA pet crates on airlines. Read on for full details of the IATA LAR, including an IATA cat and dog crate calculator.
Estimated reading time: 13 minutes
Table of contents
- IATA Live Animal Regulations (LAR) 2022
- IATA Pet Travel Kennel Calculation
- Number of Pets Allowed in an Airline Kennel
- Can countries and airlines have additional rules to the IATA requirements?
- Standard Global Pet Entry Requirements
- IATA advice on Sedation and Tranquilizer use for Live Animal Transport
IATA Live Animal Regulations (LAR) 2022
In the modern world, the IATA pet policy deems air travel to be the safest, quickest, and most humane way for animal transport over long distances. To ensure all animals are safe whilst flying either in the cabin, or in the hold as checked baggage or cargo, IATA stipulates international laws governing the transport of live animals by plane.
IATA’s Live Animal Regulations (LAR) for 2022 are the worldwide standard for commercial airlines that transport pets and other animals. In 2022, the IATA Live Animal Regulations, apply to the transport of all live animals, whether they are:
- a pet
- being transported for zoological or agricultural purposes
- or being transported for another other reason
The objective of the IATA LAR in 2022 is to ensure all animals are transported safely and humanely by air. For instance, the travel carrier you use for your dog flying in the hold of a plane must be IATA approved. You’ll notice references to these pet regulations with regards to suitable IATA pet crates in every airline’s policy.
IATA Pet Travel Kennel Calculation
To enable pet travellers to select the approximate size of pet crate for cats and dogs, the IATA provides a specific formula. When calculating the minimum internal height of the container, the height of bedding should be added to the height of your pet.
To ensure your pet has plenty of space in their airline approved travel kennel, the IATA requires that you carefully take the following measurements of your pet:
A – length from tip of their nose to root of tail
B – height from ground to their elbow joint
C – width across their shoulders, or the widest point on their body (select widest measurement)
D – height in natural standing position from top of head/tip of ear (select highest) to the ground
IATA Cat & Dog Crate Calculator
In order to calculate the correct IATA approved pet carrier when travelling with one animal, you should use this formula:
- Container length = A + ½ B
- Container width = C x 2
- Container height = D + bedding
For snub nosed breeds of cats and dogs, you must add 10% extra to your calculations. Be aware that ethical airlines don’t transport snub nosed (brachycephalic) breeds of cats and dogs in the hold of the plane.
While the IATA pet policy sets minimum dimensions to ensure your cat or dog has enough space inside their carrier, pet friendly airlines stipulate maximum dimensions permitted onboard, taking into account the space available on the aircraft.
Let’s say you have a small dog with the following measurements:
A – 48cm
B – 8cm
C – 12cm
D – 15cm
Container Length A + 1/2 of B (Half of B is 1/2 x 8cm = 4cm) 48cm + 4cm = 52cm
Container Width C x 2 12cm x 2 = 24cm
Container Height D + Bedding Let’s say bedding is 7cm high, 15cm + 7cm = 22cm
In this example, to select an IATA approved airline travel kennel, we would stick to the minimum measurements of 52cm long, 24cm wide, with 22cm height. Note that these are internal crate measurements. If travelling with a snub nosed breed of cat or dog, 10% must be added, so the minimum dimensions would increase to 57cm long, 26.5cm wide, 24.5cm high.
This IATA dog crate calculator is based on an animal flying alone in their travel kennel.
Of course, these dimensions will also be used when calculating if your pet can fly in the cabin, or if they must travel in the hold, depending on the maximum measurements set by your chosen pet friendly airline. Though, remember that snub nosed breeds can’t fly in the hold as either checked baggage or cargo, but you would use this IATA dog and cat crate calculator when flying with a snub nosed breed in the cabin.
Number of Pets Allowed in an Airline Kennel
The above IATA cat and dog crate calculator is for an individual pet travelling in a travel carrier. In a couple of cases, the IATA allows more than one pet to travel in the same airline kennel. If you’re flying more than one animal in the same crate, measurements A, B, C and D for calculating container dimensions must relate to the largest animal. Therefore, the crate you select will be in line with the measurements from the largest of the two or three cats or dogs. For two animals, the width of the crate is calculated at C x 3, and for three pets the width is C x 4. The height and length are calculated as per the formula for a single animal, but you must use the dimensions of the largest cat or dog.
Weaned Puppies or Kittens
Weaned puppies or kittens may travel well together in the same airline travel kennel. The IATA allows a maximum of three puppies or kittens together in the same kennel, and they must be:
- from the same litter
- not older than six months
- weigh no more than 14 kg each
The IATA pet policy and LAR 2022 allows a maximum of two adult animals of the same species, weighing up to 14 kg each to travel together in the same airline crate. You must confirm that the pets are:
- of compatible size
- used to cohabiting
Any animal weighing over 14kg must travel in a single crate.
Always remember that even animals that share same household may become stressed and aggressive towards each other when traveling by air. So it’s normally best for pets to fly in individual crates.
Minimum Age for Animals on Planes
In order to fly with an international pet friendly airline, the IATA pet policy requires that all animals are at least 8 weeks old, and fully weaned. Again, countries and airlines will have their own policies, and may require that your pet is older before they fly.
In addition, your cat or dog will have to comply with the health requirements of the appropriate pet travel scheme. So, to obtain a Pet Passport or Animal Health Certificate, your pet will have to be microchipped and vaccinated against rabies, as well as be up to date with their annual vaccinations. In this case, it’s likely your pet will be around 16 weeks old before they meet the pet travel requirements of any country.
Together with using the IATA cat and dog crate calculator to measure the minimum dimensions for your pet, you must also comply with crate construction requirements.
First and foremost, be aware that IATA does NOT certify, approve, endorse or sell any specific pet crate manufacturer, make or model. Any claims suggesting otherwise are fraudulent. However, you may see ‘IATA Compliant‘ or ‘Airline Approved‘ when purchasing a pet crate, which means that crate construction and materials meet the following specifications.
The IATA defines the type of pet travel container that can be used for cats and dogs flying in the cabin, or in the aircraft hold as checked baggage or cargo. To comply with the IATA pet policy, your cat or dog must travel in a carrier that meets all of these requirements when flying in the aircraft hold. If your cat or dog is travelling in the passenger cabin, some of the IATA rules don’t apply.
Design of Cat or Dog Crate
- The interior of the airline pet crate must be smooth, with no protrusions, so as not to cause any harm to your cat or dog
- All openings must be nose and paw proof, to avoid your pet escaping
- For dogs, openings must be a maximum of 25mm x 25 mm
- For cats, openings must be a maximum of 19mm x 19mm
- If the airline pet travel kennel has wheels, they must be removed or rendered inoperable
Permitted Materials for Cat or Dog Crate
- Rigid Plastics (not normally suitable for large or aggressive dogs)
- Solid Wood
- Welded Wire Mesh
Be aware that welded wire mesh cannot be used for construction of the entire pet kennel. Any wood used must meet IPCC standards.
Four Sides of Cat or Dog Kennel
- The 4 sides of the airline pet crate must be of solid construction
- Sufficient ventilation must be available, as prescribed
- Plastic clips cannot be the only fasteners holding together the top and bottom of the crate, metal bolts or screws are recommended
- If the airline pet crate is made of wood, the minimum thickness of this sides is 12 mm for dogs, and 6mm for cats
IATA Pet Carrier Floor & Roof Requirements
- The floor and roof must both be of solid construction
- Ventilation holes and welded wire mesh may cover the whole surface of the roof, but this shouldn’t compromise the robustness of the pet crate
- A complete side of the pet crate must be the door
- For both dog and cat airline kennels, the thickness of the roof must be a minimum of 12mm
Pet Kennel Door
- The door can be either sliding or hinged, and must cover an entire side of the pet crate
- Construction of the door can be either wood, plywood, plastic or welded or cast metal
- The door should have sufficient thickness to avoid pets being able to bend or distort it
- When locking pins are used, they must engage the container by at least 1.6cm
- Plastic doors are permitted, provided that the fastenings are made of metal of sufficient thickness
- To further secure plastic doors, additional fastenings may be added, such as cable ties on the four corners, so long as they won’t cause harm to your pet or their handlers
- For dogs, the maximum size of openings in the welded mesh is 25mm x 25mm
- For cats, the maximum size of openings in the welded mesh is 19mm x 19mm
- Note that the openings may have to be smaller to avoid cats or dogs using their paws or nose to open them
- The welded mesh must fully overlap the frame, and be secured with staples of at least 19mm in length, at 25mm intervals
- If the dog or cat crate is made of wood, a wooden frame or strips of wood must be placed over the edges of the welded mesh and secured with metal screws
- The frame or strips of wood must be at least 12mm thick, and screws must not protrude inside the container
Ventilation for your Cat or Dog
- Ventilated areas must total at least 16% of the surface on the 4 sides of the pet crate
- Ventilation must be provided on all 4 sides of the container
- On the sides or back, ventilation openings must be placed over the upper 2/3rds of the kennel
- Additional ventilation openings on the roof or sides are permitted
- Larger ventilation openings covered in welded wire mesh are permitted
- Any welded wire mesh covering openings must be securely fastened
- The whole of one side must be ventilated from top to bottom, which can be the crate door
Spacer Bars for Safety
- Spacer Bars must be provided along both long sides and also the back of the IATA airline crate
- They must be positioned so as to avoid other freight blocking your cat or dog’s ventilation areas
- The airline travel carrier must have handles
- When suitable, Spacer Bars may be considered as handles
- Handles must be positioned so as to avoid your cat or dog biting or scratching their handlers during transport
- If your dog weighs more than 60kg (132lb), Forklift Spacers with a minimum height of 5cm must be used
Pet Crate Bedding
- Your cat or dog crate must have absorbent bedding, suitable for the species of your pet
Labelling Airline Crate
- A green coloured ‘Live Animal‘ sticker should be placed on the IATA compliant pet crate
- ‘This Way Up‘ labels and tags are also mandatory, and must be placed on at least two opposite sides of the pet crate
IATA Crate Policy for Cats & Dogs in Passenger Cabin
Should your cat or dog be flying in the passenger cabin with you, the pet travel crate must meet the above IATA pet policy, except:
- Container construction doesn’t have to be rigid and spacer bars aren’t necessary
- Ventilated areas must total at least 16% of the surface on the 4 sides of the pet crate
- The pet carrier must have enough space for your cat or dog to turn around while standing, to sit erect, and to lie down in a natural position
- You must display a ‘live animal’ sticker on the pet carrier, which shouldn’t cover any of the ventilation areas (this is provided at the airport check-in desk)
So, when flying with a pet, you must first use the IATA cat and dog crate calculator to find the minimum interior dimensions of the kennel. Then, you have to purchase a pet crate that has the minimum inner dimensions, and also meets all of the above standards. Remember to that you have to check your chosen airline’s policy for the pet travel carrier.
Can countries and airlines have additional rules to the IATA requirements?
As well as adhering to the IATA Live Animal Regulations (LAR) in 2022, some countries and airlines have their own specific requirements for the carriage of live animals. If you travel within the EU, for example, you will also have to adhere to the EU Pet Travel Scheme. Check out 10 Pet Friendly Airlines in the EU for pet friendly airlines in continental Europe.
But, even within the scheme, some countries have their own additional rules. For example, a Tapeworm Treatment is required within 1-5 days of a dog entering:
This why it’s so important that you check the specific vaccinations, treatments and documentation required with your chosen airline. Also, always verify with your vet any specific pet travel laws in your destination country. You can also double check current rules on the embassy website of the country you’re visiting.
Standard Global Pet Entry Requirements
In general, across the globe, you’ll find that minimum requirements for pet travel require that:
- Your cat, dog or ferret is microchipped
- Your cat, dog or ferret is vaccinated against rabies
- Your cat, dog or ferret is up to date with their annual vaccinations
- Your cat, dog or ferret has a valid Pet Passport or Animal Health Certificate
However, there are variances within the pet travel schemes for different territories. For example, your pet doesn’t have to be microchipped to enter the USA, although individual States can set additional pet travel laws.
IATA advice on Sedation and Tranquilizer use for Live Animal Transport
IATA endorses the recommendation of not to sedate or tranquilize pets or other live animals in transit. If sedation or tranquilization must be done specifically for valid medical reasons, it must be carried out under the direction of an authorised veterinarian. The administration of the drugs, including time and dosage level, must be detailed on the Pet Passport or Animal Health Certificate.
For full details on the Live Animal Regulations (LAR) 2022, IATA has produced a detailed document. You should always check the IATA website, and that of your chosen airline to ensure you select an appropriate pet travel crate for your needs.