IATA-approved pet carrier buying guide

IATA-approved pet carrier buying guide

Sebastian, self-taught DIY-er, Exeter

Guide written by:

Sebastian, self-taught DIY-er, Exeter

192 guides

If you need to fly your dog or cat in the plane hold, you will have to purchase a special transport cage that meets the safety standards defined by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Any container that does not meet these standards will be refused so read on to find the right carrier for your pet.

Important features

  • Material
  • Locking system
  • Size
  • Hinges
  • Cage assembly
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Regulations for transporting dogs and cats by plane

Travelling with a dog or cat: rules and conditions


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In order to transport a dog or cat in the cargo hold of a plane, you will have to get your hands on a pet transport carrier that conforms to the conditions set out by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

If you do not do so, your pet will be not be allowed to board.

Boarding paperwork


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The airline will provide you with a document that must be properly filled in, signed and handed in at the airport on the day of your departure. Dog or cat owners must consult the airline in advance to obtain this form.

IATA-approved pet carriers


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  • The pet carrier structure must be made of solid plastic or fibreglass.
  • If the pet carrier comes with wheels, you must remove them before travelling. If the wheels can be stowed, they should be rendered inoperable with the use of tape.
  • The door of the pet carrier must have a locking system with two secure fasteners located at the top and bottom of the door (1).
  • The carrier's door hinges and locking pins must extend beyond the horizontal extrusions above and below the door opening by at least 1.6 cm (5/8 inches).
  • The two halves of the carrier should be held together by bolts. Any other type of side fastener is strictly forbidden. However, you can use an additional fastening system alongside the bolts (3).
  • Your pet must be able to stand up without having to lower their head, which must not touch the top of the carrier. They must also be able to lie down and turn comfortably in the carrier.
  • Pet carriers should be equipped with a double pet bowl system to separate food and water. The bowl should be firmly attached and accessible from the outside of the cage.

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Dog bowls

Unapproved dog and cat carriers


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IATA-approved pet carrier dimensions


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Measuring your pet 

1. Length of your pet from the muzzle to the base of the tail.

2. Height from the ground to the elbow. The length of the carrier must be at least equal to A + 1/2 B (1/2 B = half the length of the leg).

3. Height of the pet in a natural standing position, from the top of the ears or head.

The width of the pet carrier should measure at least two times the width of your pet across the back.

Pet safety and comfort


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  • The base of the cage can be covered by a blanket, cover, cardboard, newspaper or any other type of absorbent material. However, straw and cat litter are not allowed.
  • The pet must not wear a lead or muzzle. You are not allowed to store anything inside the pet carrier.
  • Your pet must be fit and healthy. They should be strong, free of injuries and must not be under the influence of a tranquiliser.

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Muzzles

Animals prohibited from travel


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You cannot fly with the following types of flat-faced breeds:

  • pugs,
  • bulldogs,
  • boxers,
  • Pekinese
  • Shih Tsus,
  • Persian cats, etc. ;

Furthermore, if travelling to France, you cannot travel with any dog breeds belonging to Category 1 as defined by the French Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry. Category 2 dogs may be allowed under special restrictions.

Any failure to follow these restrictions will result in the refusal of your pet by the airline.

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Guide written by:

Sebastian, self-taught DIY-er, Exeter, 192 guides

Sebastian, self-taught DIY-er, Exeter

Redo a roof with wooden beams? Check.Advise Mister everybody in the DIY shop? Check.Redo the bathroom plumbing? Check.Fit together, build the walls, paint a partition, throw my hammer in a rage thinking that it will fix the problem? Check. The DIY motto ? Learning is better than delegating… well, it's also a question about your wallet! The satisfaction? The beer at the end of the job! What do the best have in common? The influence of Gyro Gearloose, Mac Gyver and Carol Smiley depending on your generation, a good dose of curiosity, a average hand-eye coordination and a taste for risks… and if it doesn't work, try again! Advise you? I'll do my best!

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