Shipping Birds: Feathers, Beaks and a Whole Lotta Paperwork

Cockatiel No one ever said pet shipping was easy, and when it comes to shipping birds, things can definitely get pretty tricky. The amount of paperwork involved in flying a feathered friend overseas is usually quite extensive. 

We recently moved Pipi, a very cute cockatiel, from New York City to Nagoya, Japan. His owners were thrilled to see him, and sent us this note shortly after he arrived:

Pipi has arrived 10 minutes ago. Now he is eating food and looks so happy. My son is so excited to see him. Of course, I'm so happy to see him!!!!! Thank you so much for your support to import my family member Pipi.


Eiko and Pipi

So what exactly is involved in flying a bird to Japan or another country? People sometimes jokingly ask us, "Can't they just fly themselves?" Unfortunately, your bird will need to rely on good old fashioned air travel just like you to move overseas.

Here's a quick rundown of things to keep in mind if you're shipping a bird:

1.  The Right Type of Bird Travel Crate

We talk a lot about pet travel crates being an important first step in the process, and it's no different for birds. If you're planning on flying your bird, you'll need to comply by IATA's Live Animal Regulations (LAR). What this means for birds is that the crate typically offers them some sort of perch, has openings for ventilation that aren't too big for them to get a beak or a wing outside of, and provides them with food and water.

We make custom bird crates here at our offices, which consists of purchasing a small dog or cat travel crate (depending on the size of the bird we're shipping) and attaching a store bought perch to the inside of the crate wall. We then cover the ventilation holes and door with very fine pieces of wire mesh that we attach securely with plastic zip ties. Since privacy is important to birds, we make detachable "curtains" by cutting out strips of burlap that we attach to the outside of the crate with Velcro.

Add a couple of dishes to the crate door and line the floor with a piece of newspaper and you've got a first-class bird crate ready to go! Don't forget to start getting your bird used to being in the crate well in advance of his move.

2.  Check Your Bird's CITES Status

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, or CITES, protects not only endangered species but other exotic species that might be subject to endangerment if their trade is not controlled. If you are moving with an exotic species internationally and your pet is listed as a CITES protected species, you'll need to make sure you have the right permits ahead of time. 

Departing from the United States, pet owners will also need to have their pet inspected and permits issued by the US Fish & Wildlife Service prior to departure as well. It takes about 6-7 months to obtain the documentation required to safely and legally ship a CITES species, so we advise people who are planning to hire our services to move their exotic pets to contact us as soon as they can. 

In the case of our friend Pipi, he is one of the three parrot species not listed as a CITES species, so we were able to avoid the lengthy CITES permitting process.  Cockatiels, budgies and peach-faced lovebirds are all exempt from CITES regulations. Other popular parrots like African greys, cockatoos and macaws are all protected by CITES.

3.  Know the Pre-Export and Post-Import Requirements

This is perhaps the hardest step of moving a bird internationally -- you not only have to know the export requirements for the country you're departing from but also the import requirements for your destination country. Pipi, for example, had to originate from a region free of Avian Influenza and be kept in an "embarkation quarantine facility" for 21 days prior to departure to prevent entry of mosquitoes. 

Other countries, like Singapore, may require additional paperwork that must be completed within a certain time frame before the flight.

If you get stuck, contact us. We've helped many birds travel safely and we're happy to help you!


Editor's Note: This post was originally published in January 2010 and has been updated with new information. (Photo Credit: Andrew Fysh/Flickr)


PetRelocation Team


Air Travel, Airlines, Ask the Experts





Add a Comment

By Chay on March 3, 2018 at 10:03 pm

Hi can I ship my conure from USA to India?

By on March 7, 2018 at 9:51 am

Hello Chay,

Unfortunately, India does not allow bird imports, so you would not be able to ship a Conure there. Sorry I don’t have better news!

By Katidid on February 21, 2018 at 9:34 am

I wanted to move three of my lovebirds from nicaragua to the states(UT) [peach-face; masked; and Fischer] how would I go about doing that? I purchased them in Nicaragua from a pet store.

By on February 26, 2018 at 10:28 am

Hi Katidid,

Thanks for your question! The USDA APHIS website has instructions for importing pet birds from other countries. You can learn more about the process here. If you would like to speak with one of our relocation consultants about moving your lovebirds to the US from Nicaragua, we’re happy to help! Please fill out this form with some additional details and someone on our team will contact you.

By Mousumi Saha on February 2, 2018 at 7:30 am

Can please help with relocating my grey parrot to India and a Labrador,? If you can tell me how much it will cost?

By on February 2, 2018 at 9:21 am

Hi Mousumi!

Unfortunately, birds can not be imported to India. If you are relocating there for work with proof of residence transfer or are a current citizen returning after more than two years, we can help move your Labrador. Please fill out this form with some additional details and a relocation consultant will contact you with more information on pricing and requirements. Thank you!

By Saddam hussain on January 27, 2018 at 4:20 am

I need the birds from america to pakistan.what requirements paper or process method to shipping birds Pakistan. What Will be the costs.please inform me.thanks

By on January 29, 2018 at 10:03 am

Hello, Saddam,

Thanks for reaching out!

Many things determine the costs of a move and whether or not it can be done. We would need your bird's species, for example, to determine whether or not it is a CITES protected bird.

Please fill out our online consultation form here to get in touch with one of our consultants for move options and pricing.

We look forward to hearing from you!

By Jennifer on January 24, 2018 at 1:14 pm

Hi, I am looking for more information on how to ship my green cheek conure from the United States to Germany?

By on January 24, 2018 at 2:46 pm

Thanks for your question, Jennifer!

You can move your conure to Germany, but keep in mind that this is a CITES listed species, which means it will require additional expense and permits to move. Since you are moving from the US, you would need to obtain a permit through the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. You can also find the bird import requirements for Germany here.

This will require more paperwork and preparation than if you were moving a dog or cat, but it can be done! If you would like to speak with one of our pet relocation consultants about this move, please fill out our Arrange a Move form and someone will be in touch with you as soon as possible. Hope this helps!

By Rachel on January 18, 2018 at 2:12 pm

Hi, I'm moving from Canada to Germany and I wanna bring my lovebird with me. Not sure where to start ?! Can you help me ?

By on January 18, 2018 at 3:58 pm

Thanks for your question, Rachel!

First, check to see if your bird is listed as a CITES protected species, which means there will be additional permits required for export and import. There are several lovebirds on this list, so yours may be among them. Depending on the status of your bird, you will need to contact the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture in Germany to confirm what documents you’ll need. As mentioned in the above post, it takes about 6-7 months to obtain the documentation required to safely and legally ship a CITES species, so we advise people who are planning to hire our services to move their exotic pets to contact us as soon as they can. Hope this helps!

By Ali on January 17, 2018 at 1:43 am

Hi I have cocktail bird and I need to take him to india with me So how is it possible Can you please help me regarding this Thanx

By on January 17, 2018 at 9:43 am

Hi Ali, and thanks for your question!

Unfortunately, birds cannot be imported to India at this time. Sorry to be the bearer of this news! If you do decide to move to a country where birds can be imported, the blog post above should be a good resource for planning your pet’s trip!

By Khan on January 17, 2018 at 12:40 am

How I send pigeons from Japan to Pakistan and how much the will cast me

By on January 17, 2018 at 10:20 am

Hi Khan,

Thanks for your question!

It may be more cost-effective to enlist the help of a local moving service since we are in the United States. IPATA (International Pet and Animal Transportation Association) has a directory on their website where you can search trusted pet shipping professionals by country or airport. Also, a shipper based in Pakistan would be a good resource for regulations specifically relating to importing pigeons. Hope this helps!

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