Making a trip to Hawaii with a dog or cat in tow is complicated; Hawaiian regulations regarding animals are among the most complex in the country. And for good reason! As an island state, it's important for the health of Hawaii's flora and fauna that no animals bring disease or illness in. Are you planning a trip to Hawaii and want to take a pet along? Here's your comprehensive guide to traveling to Hawaii with a pet, updated November 2018.
What's Different About Traveling to Hawaii With Pets
Hawaii is not kidding around about staying "rabies free." The two preferred options for incoming pets are Direct Airport Release or the "Five Days or Less" Quarantine. Your pet will need to see the vet at least three times in preparation for your trip to Hawaii.
If you do not comply with all rules and regulations before bringing your pet to HI, your pet could be quarantined for up to four months. Yes, even if you return home!
Thankfully for most travelers, Hawaii relaxed its regulations (slightly) in August 2018. Previously, the vaccination process for a pet traveling to Hawaii for the first time had to be started at least 120 days before the trip, but usually required several months more. Today, it can take significantly less time but our vets recommend you start the process at least 70 days from the start of your trip to be on the safe side. You don't want your trip cancelled because of red tape! It's important to note that if you're planning to take your pet to a Hawaiian island other than Oahu, you'll need a neighbor island permit. Once you get to a neighboring island, you'll need to go to a designated vet clinic where your pet will be examined. There are additional fees associated with a neighbor island permit. All pets entering Hawaii must fly through the Honolulu airport first; they're then re-screened when reaching their final destination airport in Maui, Lanai, or the Big Island. The official government website of Hawaii offers well-organized checklists for pet owners heading to any destination. And the best news? Your pet's first trip to Hawaii will be her most complicated by far. Once you've gone through the first-entry process your next trip to Hawaii will feel like a breeze.
What to Keep in Mind Before Booking Your Flight
Note that pets too young (under 12 weeks of age) or too old for rabies vaccines should not be transported to Hawaii. Also note that U.S. airline policy will not allow your pet to be stowed under the plane if the weather is above 85 degrees Fahrenheit or below 45 degrees F. You'll want to keep an eye on the weather in Hawaii before you show up at the airport! You want to arrive in Hawaii at 3:30 p.m. at the very latest in order to qualify for same-day direct release. You will have to go to an airport facility where your pet will be examined prior to direct release; that facility closes at 5:00 p.m., no exceptions. If you arrive after 3:30 p.m. your pet will be quarantined overnight until her exam, which will take place the next day.
Requirements for Your Pet's First Entry Into Hawaii
1. A 15-digit Microchip ID. If pet has a microchip that is not 15-digits long you'll need her to be re-microchipped and re-vaccinated for rabies. 2. Two Rabies Vaccines, Minimum. Both vaccines must be administered in the pet's lifetime, and the 2nd vaccine must be current (not expired.) 3. A Rabies Titer. This proves that antibodies have built up in your pet's system. The titer cannot be run until at 7-10 least days after her last rabies vaccine. Your pet must pass this test which takes 2-3 weeks to run. 4. 30-Day Waiting Period. Your pet must wait 30-days after blood her pulled for the rabies titer prior to her entry into Hawaii. 5. Ectoparasite (Frontline) Treatment. This protects your pet from ticks and certain formulations are required by the state of Hawaii. 6. Certificate of Veterinary Inspection. This must be completed within 14 days of travel to prove your pet is in good enough health to travel. 7. Paperwork Submitted to State of HI. All paperwork must be FedExed overnight to Hawaii at least 10 days prior to travel.
First-Time Entry Process
Vet Visit 1: Microchip and Rabies Vaccination Your pet's microchip will be checked and/or updated and her first (or subsequent) rabies vaccination will be administered. Wait at least 21 days before next step.
Vet Visit 2: Take Blood Sample for Rabies Titer Test Your pet's blood will be sampled and sent to a lab to test whether or not significant rabies antibodies have built up in her system. Wait for rabies titer results, usually 14-20 days, until next step. *You will be eligible to enter Hawaii in as little as 30 days after blood is pulled for this test. Vet Visit 3: Second Rabies Vaccination *Only required if your pet has not already had two lifetime rabies vaccinations! You are eligible to enter Hawaii 30 days after the 2nd rabies vaccination has been administered or 30 days after the rabies titer result comes back, whichever one comes later.
Vet Visit 4: Tick Medication Application & Certificate of Veterinary Inspection Within 14 days of your travel date, your pet will need to have Fipronil (Frontline) applied by or in the presence of a vet. Your vet will also perform a final exam (CVI) and fill out paperwork stating your pet is healthy enough to travel.
At this point you can send out all required paperwork (FedEx Overnight) to the state of Hawaii. Hawaii should receive ALL of your paperwork at least 10 days prior to your entry date. Please see the next section to find out which paperwork is required.
Paperwork Required (First Entry)
Your vet will help you fill out some of the medical paperwork you'll need for your trip to Hawaii. Submission of the required forms must be done by you!
1. Form AQS 279.
*Note: This form needs to be notarized by a notary public.
2. Two Rabies certificates These must have original ink vet signatures.
3. Cashier's check or money order(s) Your fee will be $185 or $244 depending on whether you'll get your paperwork to Hawaii more than 10 days prior to your arrival. (Your bank can help you with this.) If you will not get the paperwork to Hawaii at least 10 days prior, your total fees will be $244. It may be safer to do $244 to avoid any issues. You will be subject to additional fees if your final destination is not Honolulu!
4. Completed Certificate of Veterinary Inspection This must be issued within 14 days of your trip. Your pet will also receive a Frontline administration during this exam appointment. Be sure to check with your airline to ensure they don't require your CVI to be issued within 10 days of your flight...some do!
Once you've gathered all your materials, you will FedEx (overnight) your documents - with the exception of your money order! - to Hawaii. The address is: Animal Quarantine Station - 99-951 Halawa Valley St, Aiea, HI 96701.
Keep the paperwork you are given at the airport during the direct release process! You'll need it for reentry to Hawaii if you decide to travel there again within three years. Reentry is a lot easier than first-entry for your pet. Until the latest vaccine or the rabies titer used for the initial entry hits 36 months, you can enter Hawaii after just an ectoparasite treatment (Frontline) and a health certificate within 14 days of travel.