Shipping Live Animals

Shipping Live Animals - Domestic and International

UPS provides service on a limited basis for packages containing some types of live animals. The term "animal" as used herein refers to anything living, except plants. While the list of "Accepted Live Animals" provided herein is an exhaustive list of animals that can be offered for transportation in accordance with the conditions listed, the list of "Prohibited Live Animals" is only a partial list of animals provided to clarify specific species that are not accepted for transportation and may not be shipped via UPS. Any animal not specifically listed on the "Accepted Live Animals" list is prohibited by UPS and will not be accepted for transportation. All international live animal shipments require an International Special Commodities contract. Contact your UPS Account Executive for information about shipping International Special Commodities via UPS.

Packages containing live animals must be prepared in accordance with the requirements as specifically stated herein. Packages containing live animals must provide for the basic humane care and safety of the animal during transportation. Any package containing a live animal shall be considered a perishable commodity and will be accepted for transportation solely at the shipper´s risk for any damage or loss arising from the perishable nature of the item. UPS shall not be liable for any special, incidental, or consequential damages.

All shipments of live animals must be clearly marked on opposing sides of the carton in bold block lettering a minimum of one inch in height stating:  LIVE ANIMALS.   The term animal may be replaced with the name of the specific live animal contained in the package.

In the event a package containing a prohibited item is found en route or in the UPS system, that package will be stopped at the location or UPS facility of the discovery. UPS reserves the right to dispose of the package.

*Hawaii - All live animal shipments to Hawaii are subject to inspection by the State of Hawaii Department of Agriculture upon arrival.  Service delays may occur due to this inspection.  Live animals may only be shipped to the island of Oahu.   Importing Turtles/Tortoises into the State of Hawaii requires a permit prior to importation.  Please review the information on the following web page for specific requirements (  Shipments of live animals to Hawaii may be more restrictive than the limitations listed herein.  (Please see the Animal Guidelines page on the State of Hawaii web site for more information.) 

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Endangered or Threatened Species

In addition to the Prohibited Live Animals list provided here, any live animal or plant that is an Endangered Species is prohibited by UPS and will not be accepted for transportation. Shippers must refer to the most current publicized list posted on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Web site.

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Service Type

Live animals will only be accepted for transportation when shipped by any UPS service that guarantees delivery the next day. Shipments must not be offered to UPS on Fridays or before a holiday in the origin or destination country.

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Design and Construction of the Primary Container:  All live animals offered for transportation must be in a new box.  Corrugated boxes must be constructed of a minimum of 275 # bursting strength corrugated or 44 edge crush test.  It is recommended that any package containing animals requiring moisture during transportation be constructed of water-resistant material such as wax coated, wax impregnated, or plastic corrugated.  Minimal ventilation holes should be provided as necessary.

Internal Packaging and Other Considerations:  Internal packaging materials must be used based on the characteristics of the animal, taking into consideration the necessary humane care for the animal while in transportation.  Lizards and geckos should be individually contained in bags constructed of breathable material, such as burlap.  Insects should be contained in individual primary containers such as plastic jars with ventilation.  Fish must be double bagged in strong plastic bags with a minimum thickness of 4 mils.  Each primary bag should be approximately one third full of water with the remainder filled with oxygen.

Package Testing: Any packaging used or developed to transport animals should be submitted to an International Safe Transit Association (ISTA) certified package testing laboratory for pre-shipment testing in accordance with ISTA Procedure 3A before being offered for transportation.

Additional Considerations:  Additional components such as food, moisture, and temperature controls should be added as necessary to provide a safe environment during transportation.  Additional dunnage should be added to prevent movement of the primary containers or receptacles within the outer box.

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Requirements for the Acceptance of Live Bees

As of 1/1/2021, UPS will no longer accept, for transportation via Air services, shipments of Package Bees, but will continue to accept via Ground service where the time-in-transit of the shipment from origin to destination ZIP codes is no greater than one day. Shipments of Queen Bees, with their attendants, will continue to be accepted for Air and Ground services where the time in transit between origin and destination ZIP codes is no greater than one day. You can check times in transit at

Packaging Requirements for Bees:

Bees that are shipped within the traditional wooden crate with wire mesh must be enclosed in a corrugated sleeve. This sleeve must include a border of a minimum of 2 inches past each edge of the container (See diagram below). This is required to prevent safety hazards from protruding wires from the mesh. UPS will also accept “Bee Bus” packaging. Any package other than described herein must be tested in accordance with the Package Testing standards described above.

Note: Corrugated sleeve must overlap the edge by at least 2".

Live Bee Food Supply Requirements:

The use of liquid food supplies is strictly prohibited (i.e.: sugar water and syrup solution). If a food supply is necessary it must be "hard candy" type substitute (i.e.: candy board or fondant) that will not leak or escape from the package.

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Accepted / Prohibited Live Animals

Accepted Live Animals

This is a comprehensive list of live animals accepted for transportation.  Shippers are prohibited from shipping any animal not listed here, and all other live animals will not be accepted for transportation. The following live animals are accepted for transportation unless poisonous, venomous, and/or a Threatened or Endangered Species.

  • Amphibians (All): Examples:  frogs, salamanders, toads
  • Cephalopod (All): Examples: squid, octopus, nautilus
  • Crustaceans (All): Examples:  crabs, crawfish, lobsters, shrimp
  • Fish (All)
  • Insects (Limited to beneficial insects only): Examples:  bees, butterflies, crickets, lady bugs
  • Mollusks (All): Examples:  clams, mussels, snails
  • Reptiles (Limited to the following):
    - Lizards: Examples:  chameleons, geckos, iguanas, monitors, flying dragons
    - Turtles: freshwater turtles (except: snapping turtles), land tortoises, sea turtles
  • Worms (All)

Prohibited Live Animals

Live Animals that are prohibited from being shipped and are not accepted for transportation include, but are not limited to:

  • Any poisonous, venomous or threatening animal
  • Any Threatened or Endangered species
  • Arachnids (All):  Examples: mites, scorpions, spiders, ticks
  • Birds (All)
  • Crocodiles (All): Examples:  alligators, caimans, gavials
  • Mammals (All)
  • Obnoxious Insects: Examples:  flies, locusts, mosquitoes, roaches, termites, weevils
  • Snakes (All):  venomous and non-venomous
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Next Steps

Learn more about Threatened and Endangered Species on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service web site.

Endangered Species Program