Requirements for moving pets to Hawaii
September 2020 Update: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, regulations for importing pets into Hawaii have changed. You can still bring a pet with you to Hawaii, just be aware of the new guidelines in place surrounding the process. Also, make sure to follow the current travel guidance if you’re required to quarantine.
Did you know Hawaii is the only rabies-free state in the country? That’s a pretty big deal! According to the American Humane Society, rabies is almost always fatal, and the U.S. currently averages 400-500 cases in domestic pets each year (and about two cases in humans). To help protect the well-being of all residents and animals, the Hawaii Department of Agriculture has specific requirements for moving pets to the islands. Keep reading to learn about steps you’ll need to complete, how each quarantine option works and more.
Need to know other details about moving to Hawaii? Check out this Hawaii moving guide to learn how the process works and what to expect from life on the islands.
What to do before bringing a dog or cat into Hawaii
The animal quarantine program was established in 1912 when it was determined that rabies was endemic in California. To prevent the disease from entering the islands, pet owners are required to complete the following:
- Rabies vaccinations. You’ll need to provide proof of at least two current rabies vaccinations, and a licensed vet must administer the vaccines no less than 30 days apart. The most current vaccine must be administered at least 30 days before the pet arrives in Hawaii (but the vaccine still needs to be effective). The vet should check the vaccine’s licensed booster interval listed on the manufacturing label to make sure it’s given at the right time.
- OIE-FAVN blood test. A veterinarian must take a FAVN (Fluorescent Antibody Serum Neutralization) blood sample from your pet and send it to an approved lab for testing. Time this test so it’s completed more than 30 days (but less than three years) before the move.
- Microchip implantation. All dogs and cats must have a working electronic microchip implanted. Contact your vet about implanting a microchip for additional information. Note: Hawaii quarantine laws require the microchip be implanted before the OIE-FAVN test because it’s required to identify the blood sample.
- Mandatory waiting period. After receiving a successful OIE-FAVN test result, there is a 30-day mandatory waiting period before your pet can arrive in Hawaii. Test results are available through your vet’s office or the Animal Quarantine Microchip Search.
- Documents and payment. Hawaii’s Animal Quarantine Station (AQS) requires all pet owners to complete and submit the following: Dog & Cat Import Form AQS-279, two rabies vaccinations certificates (signed in ink by your veterinarian), and payment (cashier’s check or money order).
How early you need to submit the paperwork depends on your destination. If your pet is flying into Honolulu (on the Island of Oahu), the Animal Quarantine Station (AQS) must receive all documents 10 days before the pet’s arrival. Owners flying their pet to the Islands of Hawaii, Maui or Kauai must send documents at least 30 days in advance and request a Neighbor Island Inspection Permit (NIIP).
You can mail all completed documents and payments to:
Animal Quarantine Station
99-951 Halawa Valley Street
Aiea, Hawaii 96701
Hawaii quarantine options
When traveling to Hawaii with pets, there are three quarantine options: Direct Airport Release (DAR), the 5-Day-or-Less program, or the 120-Day quarantine option. Keep in mind that your pet is only eligible for DAR and the 5-Day-or-Less program if:
- You’ve completed and submitted the paperwork at the correct time
- The FAVN Rabies Antibody test result is successful
- The 30-day waiting period has been completed
Arriving early or forgoing another step can result in disqualification, and your pet could be quarantined for 120 days.
Direct Airport Release
Pets who qualify for Direct Airport Release can leave the airport with their owners once they pass an entry inspection. Hawaii’s Department of Agriculture provides a checklist so you can check that you’ve met the requirements:
- Complete Checklist 1 if you’re flying into Honolulu
- Complete Checklist 2 if you’re flying into Kona, Kahului or Lihue airports
Note: For specific information regarding the NIIP and the additional tasks you must complete, please read Checklist 2 thoroughly.
There are two instances when your pet may have to participate in the 5-Day-or-Less program. The first instance is if you’re unavailable to pick up your pet upon its arrival. The second reason is if there’s a minor issue in the requirements, such as the AQS didn’t receive the paperwork on time, there is a problem with the microchip, etc. Once you arrive for pick up, or the problem is resolved, your pet will be released. You can use the same checklists above to ensure you’ve met all of the requirements. For more information about the 5-Day-or-Less program, check out these FAQs.
Animals that enter the state before the 30-day mandatory waiting period, without the proper rabies vaccines or paperwork, or without an OIE-FAVN blood test, will be transferred to the Animal Quarantine Station for a 120-day quarantine period. Details about the AQS can be found on this brochure.
During the quarantine period, you can visit your pet on:
- Tuesdays and Thursdays: 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
- Wednesdays: 1:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
- Saturdays and Sundays: 12:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Note: The station is closed to visitors on Mondays, Fridays and holidays.
Should I move my pet to Hawaii?
Before your pet travels to Hawaii, take these factors into consideration:
- Age. The Hawaiian government suggests not bringing very old animals as they may not travel well. They also recommend not transporting very young animals. Because puppies and kittens must wait until a certain age to receive both rabies shots, they will be at least six months or older before the requirements are complete.
- Health. Chronically ill or debilitated animals may not travel well. Also, pregnant animals are banned from entering, and any pet discovered to be pregnant will be hospitalized at an approved veterinary facility at the owner’s expense.
- Adaptability. Hawaii has warm, tropical weather year-round and may not be the ideal environment for breeds that thrive in colder climates.
- Breed. The quarantine brochure states “non-domestic dogs, cats, and hybrids such as wolf, wolf cross, Dingo, Bengal, Savannah, etc. are prohibited under Plant Quarantine Branch Laws.”
How much does quarantine cost?
Although prices are subject to change, these are the current rates listed on the Hawaii Animal Industry Division webpage:
- Direct Airport Release — $185
- 5-Day-or-Less program — $244
- Neighborhood Island Inspection Permit — $165
- Arriving early before eligible for 5-Day-or-Less — $14.30/each day early + $244 (Limit of $1,082)
- 120-Day program — $1,080
Note: Personal checks are not accepted — you can pay in advance with a cashier’s check or money order (recommended for quicker release) or at the destination’s airport with cash, a traveler’s check or a VISA® or MasterCard®. These are individual prices per dog or cat, and you must pay in full before your pet can be released.
What happens to my pet when the plane lands?
Once your pet arrives in Hawaii, airport personnel will deliver them to the Airport Animal Quarantine Holding Facility (AAQHF) for inspection. They’ll be taken out of their carrier, placed in indoor kennels and given fresh water (food is provided at your request). If they arrive during the day, they’re transferred to the main station in Halawa Valley, where they may be eligible for direct release. Animals arriving on flights after 3:30 p.m. will spend the night at the airport facility and either be ready for release the next morning or taken to the Animal Quarantine Station (for unqualified animals).
If you have additional questions about moving to Hawaii with pets, leave a comment below, and we’ll answer shortly.
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