The Breed Report: Air Travel Tips for Transporting a Pet Bird In Cargo

Transporting a Pet Bird In Cargo

So, you want your pet bird(s) to travel in cargo? Well, believe it or not, the process and procedures are like preparing a pet dog or cat for transport in cargo.

The pet owner must ensure that their pet bird meets the entry requirements of the destination state/country AND comply with the live animal policies of the airline. If traveling in cargo domestically, a health certificate (and maybe other additional documentation) is required for interstate movement of pet birds. When traveling in cargo internationally, an international health certificate (and maybe other additional documentation) is required for the international movement of the pet birds. These documents must be issued by a USDA-Accredited Veterinarian within 10 days of travel.

For more information on the documentary requirements, please visit the USDA Pet Travel website, review the pet travel policies of the airline, and refer to the destination state/country for their pet entry requirements.

Now, let's focus on the shipping container requirements for pet birds. There's minimal guidance on what type of crate to utilize when transporting pet birds in cargo. Because of this, many pet bird owners have unknowingly placed their bird in danger during air travel.

Big NO-NOs I've seen include:

  • Pet birds being shipped inside their bird cages.
  • Pet birds being shipped in cardboard cat carriers.
  • Pet birds shipped in containers that do not offer adequate ventilation.
  • Pet birds shipped in containers that are too small for the bird.

For all animals being transported via cargo, the shipping container/crate must properly contain and protect the animal. It must also promote animal welfare and promote safe transport. All animals being transported via cargo must be shipped in containers that comply with IATA-LAR.

MUST HAVE for a proper crate:

  • Needs to be of rigid construction.
  • Have ample ventilation.
  • Have a door.
  • Have side bars to assist with handling.
  • Have food/water receptables available for replenishment.
  • Be the appropriate size for the pet bird(s).

Container requirement #13 provides the specific requirements needed to ship the following pet birds:

  • Caique, Cockatiel, Cockatoo species, Conure species
  • Lory and Lovebird species
  • Parakeet species
  • Macaw species
  • Parrot species (including Gray Parrot)
  • Budgerigar species

A rigid plastic pet crate can be used for transport; however, the crate must meet the requirements of CR#1 (LAR-49-EN-Press ( and be modified in accordance with CR#13.

CR#13 Modifications include:

  • Adding perches, fixed foothold blocks or slip resistant floor lining must be fixed appropriately to the floor of the container.
  • If padding is used, it must be non-destructible and must be fixed to the roof.
  • The doors and ventilation openings must be covered with a fine mesh to prevent any part of the bird(s) protruding.
  • A light curtain must cover the door and ventilation openings to reduce the amount of light within the container.
  • Food and suitable water containers must be fixed inside and have means of refilling.

Prior to travel, make sure the pet bird is acclimated to confinement in the shipping container, and deemed medically fit for travel by your veterinarian.

If you need further guidance, please contact Dr. Nelva J. Bryant of When Pets Fly at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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