AC Live

Prepare your pet for travel

Before the flight

Before you bring your animal to Air Canada Cargo, We recommend the following:

  • Read and complete the Live Animal Checklist. This can be done at the cargo station, but you will save time if you do it before you leave.
  • Check the weather for all the cities in the routing, including the departure city in case of heat or disruption due to weather. Contact the Air Canada Cargo facility at the city of origin if you have any doubts about whether your animal can travel.
  • Do not sedate your pet. Sedative drugs can be dangerous for your pet, as drugs act differently under different atmospheric pressures. Please consult your veterinarian for more information.

Where to tender your animal

Remember, if you have booked an animal to travel as cargo using AC Live, you must bring your animal to the dedicated Air Canada Cargo facility at your city of origin, not the airport. Confirm the address of the facility.

Make sure you have a confirmed reservation with Air Canada Cargo and that all other travel arrangements are made and confirmed prior to departure.

When to tender your animal

Animals must be brought to Air Canada Cargo according to the times specified below.

Species Within Canada and between Canada/US International
Dogs and Cats 2 hours prior to flight Consult our tender/retrieval time table
All other animal 4 hours prior to flight Consult our tender/retrieval time table

To minimize the stress of travel on your pet, please do not bring your animal to the station much earlier than the specified tender time.

Travel Tips

  • Purchase the kennel in advance so as to allow your pet to become accustomed to it well before the flight.
  • The night before the flight, fill the kennel's water dispenser and freeze it. Re-install it the next day. The water will not spill and will slowly thaw and be cool by the time you get to airport.
  • Place a favorite toy or item in the kennel.
  • Make sure your pet gets plenty of exercise, and feed it a light meal and water two hours before leaving home.

Picking Up at Destination

The information in this section is for anyone retrieving an animal at destination.

Make sure to verify the arrival time of the flight before leaving to pick up the animal.

Animals must be retrieved from their destination within the time frame indicated below.

Species Within Canada and between Canada/US International
Dogs and Cats 2 hours prior to flight Consult our tender/retrieval time table
All other animal 4 hours prior to flight Consult our tender/retrieval time table

Live shipments not retrieved after 4 hours will be sent to a kennel or veterinarian service.

Where to Retrieve Animals

Animals travelling as cargo are retrieved at the dedicated Air Canada Cargo facility at the destination city, not the airport.
Confirm the address of the facility.

Customs Clearance

On US transborder and international flights, the arriving animal must clear customs. The Air Canada Cargo agent at the destination station will provide you with the documentation (supplied by the shipper) needed to clear customs. You will then need to present these documents at the local customs office. You can then retrieve the animal once it has cleared customs.

Shipper's Responsibility

Any person that makes a booking to ship an animal with Air Canada Cargo is considered the shipper and must take certain steps to ensure proper transport and care for the animal.

In addition to complying with all national, carrier and IATA regulations, as applicable, the shipper is also responsible for providing or complying with the following.

Route and Booking

  • Finalize the route prior to booking.
  • Provide a 24-hour phone number that the carrier can call to obtain instructions from the shipper in the event of an unexpected change of plan.
  • Advise the receiving party (consignee) of flight details in order to arrange for immediate retrieval upon arrival at destination.

Identification of the Animal

  • If applicable, clearly indicate the animal's given name on the outside of the kennel or container.

Feeding and Special Instructions

  • Identify any special care required upon making the booking.
  • Attach a label with feeding and watering instructions, and indicate the date and time the animal was last fed and given water.
  • Obtain all required documents and information needed for the completion of the Shipper's Certification for Live Animals.
  • Advise the carrier if an animal is pregnant or has given birth in the last 48 hours.
  • Provide a record of any medication given (i.e. type of drug, dosage, time given and route). This information must accompany all other documents.


Ensure that containers or kennels provided conform to Air Canada Cargo's regulations and/or IATA's Live Animals Regulations.

Choosing the right kennel

For the comfort and safety of the animals, all cats and dogs must be transported in kennels that comply with regulations set forth by the International Aviation Transportation Association (IATA) when travelling as air cargo.

Animals other than dogs and cats can be transported in kennels described below, as long as the kennel meets the container requirements of the IATA Live Animals Regulations. You can contact our AC Live representative to get more information.

As the kennel becomes the animal's home away from home, it's a good idea to purchase the kennel well in advance of travel so the animal can become accustomed to it before travelling.

All kennels must meet the following guidelines:


  • The kennel must be made of rigid plastic. For two-part kennels, all hardware must be present and properly installed.
  • The door must be constructed of metal, either welded or thick enough that the animal cannot bend or damage it.
  • All hardware and fasteners must be in place and functioning.
  • The floor must be solid and leak-proof.
  • There must be proper ventilation on at least 3 sides including the door. The ventilation holes must not be blocked by anything inside or outside the kennel.
  • Wheels must be removed or rendered inoperable.

Kennel Size

Cats must be carried in appropriately sized kennels designed so that they cannot fit their paws through any of the openings on the kennel.

KennelThe kennel must be big enough to allow the animal to stand, turn around and lie down in a natural position.

The measurements below are based on the animal standing in a natural position

Kennel Dimensions

A = length of animal from nose to root of tail.
B = height from ground to elbow joint.
C = width across musters.
D = height of animal in standing position.

The length of the kennel must be equal to A + 1/2 B.
The width of the kennel must be equal to C x 2.
The height of the kennel (top flat or arched) must be equal to D.

Inside the kennel

  • Food and water dishes must be attached inside the kennel with outside access for filling.
  • Kennels will not be accepted for carriage if there are water bottles or receptacles attached to the outside of the cage door.
  • Provide a light blanket, cushion or newspaper.
  • Wood chips or shavings are not accepted.

Outside the kennel

  • Clearly indicate your pet's name on the outside of the kennel.
  • Attach a label with feeding and watering instructions, and indicate the date and time the animal was last fed and given water.
  • A Live animal and This way Up label/tag is mandatory. If the kennel did not come with these labels, they can be provided for you when you tender the animal. Place the This way Up label/tag on all four sides of the kennel.

Additional security

Secure the top and bottom portions of the kennel together with the supplied hardware. Clips alone will not be accepted.