How to Move Pets to Hawaii

Your dog might join you in your dreams of romps on the Hawaiian shore, but it will take a lot of work to get him there.
Dog on Beach with Stick image by Jennifer Barnes from

With its tropical climate, pristine sands and gorgeous sunsets, Hawaii is the dream move for many. But when it comes to bringing your pet along, moving to Hawaii is no paradise.

Hawaii is the only rabies-free state in the nation, and it intends to stay that way. Stringent anti-rabies protocol requires that your dog or cat be quarantined for 120 days upon entering the state. This quarantine period is not like "house arrest" for your pet at your new home: He must be kept at the Animal Quarantine Center in Aeia, regardless of which island you are moving to.

This length of time can be reduced to as little as five days, or even direct release, if specific qualifications are met, but this requires much preparation on your part.

Step 1

Make certain your dog or cat will be at least 10 months of age at the time of the move. That's the minimum length of time needed to qualify for the five-day-or-less quarantine program, according to the Hawaii Department of Agriculture's regulations.

Step 2

Call the airline that will be flying your pet. Tell them that you are transporting a pet to Hawaii. Get a quote for the fare and find out what the airline-specific requirements are.

Step 3

Provide proof that two or more rabies certificates have been issued more than 30 days apart during your pet's lifetime, and not less than 90 days prior to your arrival in Hawaii. Supply verification that your pet is microchipped with a registered implant that has been scanned by a veterinarian to verify that it is working.

Step 4

Obtain an original health certificate, written in English, which has been completed less than 14 days before your arrival in Hawaii. Ask your veterinarian to treat your pet for ticks with a product containing fipronil.

Step 5

Supply an OIE-FAVN rabies blood test certificate, which is valid for 36 months. Ensure that the veterinarian indicates "Hawaii" as the destination on the submission form. The results of your pet's test must state that the pet's blood test was greater than or equal to 0.5 IU/ml. The sample must be received by Kansas State University no less than 120 days before your date of arrival in Hawaii. Failure to do this will disqualify your pet from the five-day-or-less quarantine program.

Step 6

Complete a "Dog and Cat Import Form" by downloading it from the Hawaii Department of Agriculture website. Indicate that all documents are enclosed where required. Submit the required fee in the form of a money order or cashier's check, which is $165 if your pet satisfies requirements for "Direct Airport Release" on Kona, Lihue, Kauai or Hawaii. Submit $224 if your pet is eligible for the 5-day or less program. Submit $1,080 if your pet is to be quarantined for 120 days. These are the March 2012 fees, and are subject to change.

Step 7

Qualify for the five-day-or-less quarantine program by providing all the necessary certificates and paperwork. This can be a daunting challenge. If you are not able to provide every document, your pet will not qualify for the program, and must be quarantined.

Step 8

Submit all of your original, signed documents and payment together to Animal Quarantine Station, 99-951 Halawa Valley St., Aiea, Hawaii, 96701. Do not submit faxes or photocopies -- they are not accepted.

Step 9

Buy an airline-approved kennel of wood, metal or heavy-duty plastic, well-ventilated with an escape-free door. Place a soft bed and toys inside. Leave a crock or hanging drip-type bottle of frozen water in the crate. Attach a copy of the pet's health certificate to the crate.

Step 10

Check your pet as baggage. All pets destined for the Aloha state must be carried in the cargo hold. Your airline will unload your pet, and may transport him to the Animal Quarantine at Honolulu International Airport, depending on which island you fly to.

Step 11

Arrange for your flight to arrive in Hawaii by 3:30 p.m. Animals not arriving at the facility by 4:30 p.m. will not be released at the airport that day.

Step 12

Notify your flight attendant or pilot that you have pets on board. Upon landing, your pet will be taken to the quarantine facility or released from the airport that day if he qualifies for the direct release program. For the full quarantine program, your pet will undergo an examination by veterinary staff and will be housed in a size-appropriate kennel for the 120-day duration.

Step 13

Visit your pet in the quarantine center on Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Call ahead for hours.


  • Don't tranquilize your pet for the flight. It can be dangerous to snub-nosed dogs and may interfere with breathing in high altitudes. Discuss solutions for any concerns with your veterinarian.


  • The Hawaii Department of Agriculture is the ultimate authority on what your pet needs to pass the rabies quarantine period. Your airline may offer tips that may be contradictory.

Items You Will Need

  • Two rabies vaccine certificates
  • Microchip implant
  • OIE-FAVN rabies blood test certificate
  • Health certificate
  • Dog and cat import form
  • Money order or cashier's check
  • Airline-approved kennel


About the Author

Elle Smith has been an advertising professional for more than 25 years. Her work for ABC, CBS and Sony Pictures Television has appeared on radio, on air, in print and outdoors. In addition, Smith has more than 20 years experience in marketing, graphic arts, commercial photography and print production, and is a licensed real estate agent with property management certification in California.

Photo Credits

  • Dog on Beach with Stick image by Jennifer Barnes from