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Container Construction

Container Requirements

The illustrations shown in this Container Requirement are examples only. Containers that conform to the principle of written guidelines for the species but look slightly different will still meet the IATA standards. 

Applicable to:

  • Cats (domestic)
  • Dogs (domestic)


STATE VARIATIONS: CHG-01/03/04, GBG-01/02/03/04/05, HKG-01, NZG-01, SAG-02, ZCG-02/03/04, EUR-01, USG-Variations. 

OPERATOR VARIATIONS: AA-09, AF-01, BA-04/05, AC-03, CO-04/05/06/07/08/09/10, CX-05, CX-06, EI-01, EK-05, LX-05/06, OK-01/05, SV-01, QF-01 

For carriage of domestic pets in passenger cabins as accompanied baggage see Chapters 2 and 3.

(Some governmental regulations require that the container must be sealed during transportation. Certain airlines will not carry wooden containers. See exceptions AUG-01 and NZG-01 in Chapter 2; C-01 and QF-01 in Chapter 3).


Specific notes related to container construction:

Animal Container
  • A maximum of two adult animals of comparable size up to 14 kg each, that are used to cohabitation, may be shipped in the same container. Animals over that weight must travel individually.
  • Animals up to six months old from the same litter, up to a maximum quantity of three, may be shipped in the same container/compartment.

Fibreglass, metal, rigid plastics, weld metal mesh, solid wood or plywood.

The following principles of design must be met in addition to the Gerneral Container Requirements outlined at the beginning of this chapter.

Containers made entirely of welded mesh or wire mesh are not suitable for air transport.

Rigid plastic containers are suitable for most breeds of dog but their acceptability is at the discretion of the carrier. If a container has wheels, they must be removed or rendered inoperable.

Some rigid plastic containers may not be suitable for large dogs, or dogs that are aggressive. Specially constructed containers of hardwood, metal, plywood or similar material, with two secure door fasteners on each side, are acceptable.

Each animal contained in the container must have enough space to turn about normally while standing, to sit and sit erect, and to lie in a natural position.

For wooden containers, an outer frame of 2.5 cm x 7.5 cm (1 inch x 3 inch) lumber screwed or bolted together and lined with solid wood or plywood sides is acceptable.

For two part, rigid plastic containers, all hardware must be present and properly installed. For containers made of wood, plywood of a minimum of 12 mm (1/2 inch) or equivalent material must be used to line the outer framework. Side walls must be solid with sufficient ventilation as prescribed. The interior of the container must be smooth with no protrusions that the animal can bite or scratch to cause damage to the integrity of the container in any way.

The whole of the one end of the container must be open, covered with bars, weldmesh or smooth expanded metal which is securely fixed to the container so that the animal cannot dislodge it.

Must be provided along the middle of both long sides of the container.

Ventilation is provided by an open end to the container (which can be the door) and by ventilation openings of a minimum of 2.5 cm (1 in) over the upper two thirds of the opposite end and the remaining two sides, at a distance of 10 cm (4 in) from centre to centre of each opening.

In the case of specially constructed large dog containers the open end must be covered by closely spaced metal bars or a double weld mesh with 1 cm (1/2 in) spacing between the meshes.

The total ventilated area must be at least 16% of the total surface of the four sides. The provision of additional holes on the roof or sides of the container or larger mesh covered holes in order to increase the ventilation are permitted.

All openings must be nose and paw-proof, in the case of cats and small dogs these may have to be covered with mesh. It is very important that no animal has any surface or edge at which it can gnaw or scratch.

Water container must be present within the container with outside access for filling. Food containers must be present either within the container, if sealed, or attached to it for use in cases of delay.

Must be provided for all containers where the total weight with the animal exceeds 60 kg (132 lb).

Specific Pathogen Free (SPF) dogs and cats must be transported in containers whose dimensions conform to the requirements published in this Container Requirement. SPF labeling must be affixed to the container plus "This Way Up" labels. Filter containers for SPF consignments have special gauge air filters fixed in the ventilation apertures. Ventilation must be a minimum of 16% of the surface area of the four sides. Sufficient water must be provided for the journey. Food must be provided, if required, at the point of origin in order that the sealed container is not opened during transport. A viewing panel must be provided on SPF containers.

A green "Live Animals" label / tag or red "Laboratory Animals" label/tag is mandatory on all live animal consignments. "This Way Up" labels/tags are also mandatory and must be placed on all four sides of the container whenever possible. The label or tag can be imprinted on the container.

Example of a Typical Rigid Plastic Dog Container

Animal container construction