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10 October 2017

Labeling Labors of Love

Or, “How should I label the outside of the box?” When it comes to live shipments, it’s not enough to simply slap on a shipping label and call it good. There are federal and state regulations that must be met. 

The Federal Lacey Act and various state regulations require specific labeling. You are required to mark the outside of the package with a complete list of the animal(s) inside, including quantities, common names and scientific names. Different states may have different requirements. This labeling direction meets all state requirements on these points. Contact individual state Fish & Wildlife offices for any additional requirements regarding labeling, health certificates, permits or restrictions. 

You’ll also need an IATA label.  

“What is that?” You may ask. 

IATA stands for International Air Transport Association. This association works with its airline members and the air transport industry as a whole to promote safe, reliable, secure and economical air travel for the benefit of the world's consumers. They have developed a variety of standardized labels indicating potentially dangerous or hazardous materials being shipped via air.

The US Fish & Wildlife Service has ruled that all shipments containing live animals must be labeled according to IATA standards. For our purposes, this includes only reptile or aquatic creatures. A label with an image representing reptiles or aquatic animals must be included on every live shipment.

You can purchase our Lacey Act/IATA labels as stickers or you can print your own using our format.

Be sure to include one of these labels on every live shipment and check the appropriate box indicating its contents.

It is IMPORTANT that you clearly indicate quantity and species and label your live package appropriately, according to both Federal and State laws. This includes meeting the IATA labeling requirement and the Lacey Act labeling requirement. Failure to label your live shipments accurately and/or completely may result in delays, inspection, confiscation, and/or monetary fines. Florida and California are especially vigilant about inspections and citations. It is YOUR responsibility, and it only takes a moment!

What about words like “fragile”, “handle with care”, or “keep in a cool/warm location”?  

Just don't. There is nothing you can write on the package to get "pillow top service". Terms like Fragile and Handle with Care may only encourage knuckleheads to mishandle the package. We don't want any special package handling. We don't want any well-meaning staffer to pull the package out of the rhythm to "be careful" with it, or worse, to take it to the manager's office to ask "do we even ship live animals?" Your package could miss a flight or a delivery truck load because someone has pulled it out of the system for "special handling". We want the package to move through the system like every other package, quickly, smoothly, efficiently.

Also, If you label the package "SNAKE!" in big red letters (or even GECKO) then all you are going to encourage is PHOBIC handling. 

“Keep in a cool/warm location” is another very sticky widget. We do NOT like to see this written on any live animal shipment. It is entirely too conceivable that some well-meaning but ignorant soul will see that on your box and try to do you a favor…by putting your box into a refrigerator unit or right beside a heater vent. 

Our careful packaging, insulated boxes, temperature considerations, that is what protects the animals. 

To sum up: 

1. Shipping label
2. Lacey Act/IATA label
3. List of animal(s) inside the box

  • Quantity
  • Scientific name(s)
  • Common name(s)

What’s on the outside of the box can be just as important as what is on the inside! 

To learn more about packing and labeling live shipments, check out our Packaging Live Shipments FAQ page.

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