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International Forwarding Association Blog » Air freight in Europe » Air Shipping Requirements and Guidelines for Pet and Crew Safety

Air Shipping Requirements and Guidelines for Pet and Crew Safety

Pet shipping accounts for a significant share of cargo onboard aircraft, with a diverse array of species being transported by air. When moving pets, there is plenty to know when it comes to shipping regulations and requirements and the documents you need to submit.

Regulations and Scope

Any business or person transporting pets falls under the scope of the IATA Live Animals Regulations, including freight forwarders that are shipping animals for agricultural, scientific, conservations, and zoological purposes. The regulations also apply to everyone who is shipping racehorses and pets.

What to Do Before Shipping

Before transporting live animals by air, it is important to consider factors such as the date of shipment, best direct routing, specific country and carrier regulations, and the handling requirements of the pets being moved. You must also ensure that the containers are accurately labeled, measured, and weighted and the consignee’s and shipper’s contact details are attached.

Documents You Should Present

As animal shipping counts as specialized transportation, forwarders are asked to fill out and present a number of documents such as a Shipper’s Certificate, Health Certification, and Import Permit. Other documents that you need to provide include the In-Cabin Live Animal Acceptance Checklist, Notification to Captain, and Air Waybill. There are additional shipping requirements for endangered and protected species, including pets, livestock, and domestic animals. The list of documents that you may need to provide includes:

  • Pre-Convention certificate
  • Certificate of captive breeding
  • Certificate of introduction from the sea
  • Re-export certificate
  • Import or export permit
  • Certificate of origin

As part of the In-Cabin Live Animals Acceptance Checklist, you will need to indicate the destination, flight origin, ticket number, and flight details.

Observe Animal Behavior before Shipping

To ensure that pets and crew are safe during shipping, it is important to take note of animal behavior, including shelter and care seeking, digestive and investigatory, and caregiving of pets with young. Note that airline carriers will only accept animals that have a health certificate and are in good condition. For dogs and cats, for example, you must indicate whether they can lie down, turn around, stand, and sit.

To ensure safe shipping, you should also confirm that the container is leak and escape proof and has proper ventilation. Animals should only be shipped in containers that are appropriate for their size.

Animals Allowed Onboard

The types of animals that are allowed onboard vary by carrier. Some airlines allow household birds, rabbits, and cats and dogs in the cabin. Tropical fish, nonpoisonous reptiles, guinea pigs, hamsters, ferrets, and cats and dogs can also be shipped in baggage. The maximum number of animals also varies by carrier, including the number of pets per person and in the main cabin and First-Class cabin. Keep in mind that space is limited and advance reservation is typically required. Also note that some animals are prohibited from entering certain countries, and it is recommended to contact your carrier.