I am looking for information on moving from the US to a different country with two cockatiels. (We are two people travelling, in case each is allowed to bring only one bird.)

What airlines allow travelling with caged birds in the cabin? Are there any that are generally recommended for travelling with pets?

Generally, what are important things to think about when planning such a trip? My primary concern is the safety of the birds.

Much of the information I can find is about cats and dogs, and travelling with birds seems to be more difficult. I am also very worried about transporting the birds in the cargo hold. Cockatiels freak out easily and can seriously injure themselves by flapping in a cage. I'd strongly prefer taking them to the cabin, but it is not clear how this is going to be possible (though it seems that depending on the destination country it may be allowed by certain airlines).

I know there are services for international pet transport. In this case is it better to try to use them than taking the birds myself? (I don't think so as someone should be there to calm them down if they freak out.)

  • Is the only mode of travel to your destination by Air? Is ground or sea travel available/practical? Indicating your destination in the question may also be helpful. Commented Jul 21, 2014 at 10:42
  • 1
    @JamesJenkins Yes, the only practical way is by air (different continents). The destination is not decided yet, but the travel will certainly become necessary. Please consider the question to be about how to execute the move safely and ignore the legal side (which is easier to figure out anyway). I will update the text of the question as soon as I get 20 minutes of free time.
    – Szabolcs
    Commented Jul 21, 2014 at 11:34

3 Answers 3


I've done this with two quaker parrots (Myiopsitta monachus), first by plane from the US to Europe, and some years later, by ferry from one European country to another one.

First of all, you may be overlooking something. As far as I know you don't need export and import permits for cockatiels (CITES), but make very sure because pets, and certainly birds, can be taken away by customs if you don't have the right papers. This almost happened to me after one country's department had given me the wrong information; fortunately, I had that letter with me, but we were still kept at the airport for hours.

Second, you'll also need a health certificates. Ask your avian vet about this, and also look at the requirements of the country you are going to. There are time constraints; sometimes, the paperwork needs to be sent to, approved by and returned by an agency and any testing (test results) may take time too.

Third, now I am getting to the heart of your question.

  • Do these two tiels normally live in the same cage? Then get one travel carrier and get them used to the carrier. I had a Doskocil cabin carrier that was - and still is - excellent; I'll see if I can add an image later. I got my birds used to that and to the excitement of travel before the actual journey. I had been told that such travels can be very stressful for birds, so I wanted to prepare them as well as I could. It's great that you'll be traveling with two birds as they'll reassure each other.

  • Are your birds' wings clipped or not? If not, then go to your avian vet and have their wings clipped (also so that there is less chance of the birds injuring themselves as these are tiels). (For me, the idea that something might happen on the way and the birds would escape was very hard and that's why I did it.) If you do this well in advance, the shocks won't happen all at once for your birds. In the new country, their temporary dependence on you will be good for bonding and reassurance.

  • It is very rarely possible to travel internationally with pets in the plane's passenger cabin. It is possible that first-class passengers can sometimes get away with it.

  • When you travel, secure the carrier, by which I mean that in the unlikely event that the carrier falls, it won't open. One or two pieces of string is all it takes. Have spare pieces of string with you,too.

  • If you are going from, say, Florida to a country with colder weather, make sure you have something on the other end that helps keep them warm (and you may also consider getting cage heating there). We were lucky, we arrived in hot weather. Take food, treats, water with you or have someone waiting on the other side with those supplies if you can. A hot-water bottle, wrapped in a towel, or in its own cover, or put under the carrier can help. (But make sure the birds don't overheat either.)

  • And, talking with them about what's about to happen, in a reassuring manner that tells them something is up but everything will be fine helps a lot too. It helps tremendously helpful that birds are so intelligent because it means you can work with that, with them.

Rest assured that my two quakers did perfectly fine!

I have later had a cockatiel too, and yes, tiels have a slightly different character and pre-travel training, walking around with the birds in their carrier, taking them all sorts of places with noise and so on, may really help a lot with cockatiels.

This is a long answer to an old question, but it may help someone else one day.

Finally, here is an image of a slightly different carrier than I have and an image of one that has a small sliding wire door in the top like mine has. This one (link to reputable online parrot product store) is also very suitable.

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  • This page is useful too: trueloveaviary.com/trwiyobiviaa.html Commented Sep 21, 2017 at 19:15
  • The date of the travel has passed long ago, but I can confirm that this is a good answer. We did take them in the cabin. Most airlines will not allow this either at all, or will only deal with dogs and cats. There are a few that do, but you need to be lucky for them to fly to your destination. We flew with Iberia and had the birds in the cabin.
    – Szabolcs
    Commented Aug 10, 2018 at 11:39

When I worked for a pet store our birds and small animals came in through Delta, and were then picked up by a courier service and driven the rest of the way. We never had death due to air travel or upon arrival but it can be stressful to the bird. Call Delta Airlines and see if this is a service they still offer or if it's only offered for certain accounts. When a friend of mine moved to the UK from Florida her pets were transported by a pet moving company via ship. This is a much longer travel process, but they're containment size maximum was larger, check by calling Delta first, it's been a few years since I worked at the pet store....


You can register your cockatiels as Emotional Support Animals. They are allowed to travel with owners under the US law. However, it's best to contact the airline to confirm whether or not cockatiels are permitted before you book air tickets. Then you have to notify the airline company you will travel with your birds and ask them whether birds are allowed in the cabin. (at least 48 hours before taking off)

  • There have been several reports in the news about how some people have abused this, and how their animals were denied boarding. People doing this are putting their animals at risk. Especially in a situation where one is moving permanently, postponing the journey is not going to be a viable option if something goes wrong. What would you do with the birds if they can't board? Hopefully not flush them.
    – Szabolcs
    Commented Aug 10, 2018 at 11:33

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