Moving to Hawaii with Pets
Hawaii pet travel — what you need to know
Moving with pets involves careful planning, especially if Hawaii is your destination. Because it’s the only rabies-free state in the country, their Department of Agriculture enforces strict animal quarantine laws. These aim to protect the well-being of all residents and animals across the islands. Even though there are certain health requirements your pet must meet before they can travel to Hawaii, preparing in advance will make the process much easier.
Requirements for taking an animal into Hawaii
The quarantine program was established in 1912 when it was determined that rabies was endemic in California. To prevent the disease on the islands, there are a few requirements your pet must meet:
- Rabies vaccinations. Proof of at least two current rabies vaccinations is required. They must be administered by a licensed vet no less than 30 days apart. The most recent vaccine should be given at least 90 days (but no more than 12 months (for a 12-month licensed vaccine) or 36 months (for a 3-year licensed vaccine)) before arriving in Hawaii.
- OIE-FAVN blood test. Your veterinarian must take a FAVN (Fluorescent Antibody Serum Neutralization) blood sample from your pet and send it to an approved lab (either Kansas State University or the DoD Food Analysis and Diagnostic Laboratory in Texas) so it can be tested for an adequate response to the rabies vaccine. The OIE-FAVN test can’t be more than three years old, must be drawn 120 days prior to moving to Hawaii, and must have a result of ≥ 0.5 IU/ml.
- Microchip implantation. All dogs and cats must have a working electronic microchip implanted because it’s required to identify the OIE-FAVN blood sample. Contact your vet about implanting a microchip for additional information. Note: Hawaii quarantine laws require the microchip be implanted before the OIE-FAVN blood test.
- Mandatory waiting period. Following a successful OIE-FAVN test result, there is a 120 day waiting period before you can transport your pet. Test results are available through the Animal Quarantine Microchip Search or your vet’s office. The website will indicate the earliest date your pet can enter Hawaii.
Hawaii pet quarantine options
When traveling to Hawaii with pets, there are two different quarantine options: the 5-Day-or-Less program (which can include direct airport release) or the 120-Day Quarantine program. Which one you qualify for depends on whether or not your pet has all the proper vaccinations and completed paperwork.
This quarantine program requires that your pet wait 120 days before entering the state to ensure the blood sample doesn’t detect rabies. While technically this is still the 120-Day quarantine period, you’re doing it at home where you and your pet stay together, rather than them having to stay at the facility in Hawaii. Arriving early will disqualify your pet from the program and the ability to be directly released from the airport. To participate, you must meet all the requirements — click here for the 5-day-or-less checklist. For more information about this program, check out these FAQs.
Animals that enter the state too early and without the proper rabies vaccines, paperwork or an OIE-FAVN blood test will be transferred to the Animal Quarantine Station for the 120-day quarantine period. Details about the Animal Quarantine Station can be found on this brochure, or you can contact them by email at RabiesFree@hawaii.gov or by phone at 808-483-7151.
In order for your pet to have a quick and comfortable move, it’s a good idea to start preparing at least six months in advance (if not more!). Now that you know all the necessary requirements, go ahead and schedule an appointment with your vet — be sure to inform them of where you’re moving to and what you need so that they’re ready.
It’s also important to get your pet accustomed to their travel carrier, especially if they aren’t used to being enclosed. Leave the crate open and place their favorite toy or treat inside to make it more appealing. Avoid forcing them to go inside —let it be their idea so they see it as something positive and not negative.
Finally, don’t forget to book your flight. Airlines only allow a certain number of pets per plane, so booking ahead of time ensures your pet will get a spot. Book direct flights when possible or choose a route that has very few flight changes. Remember, each airline has specific rules about which animals can fly and whether they travel in the cabin or the cargo area. It’s best to contact the airline you’ll be using and ask about their regulations.
Should I move my pets to Hawaii?
Some pets will make the move just fine, while others may suffer physically or mentally. Before moving pets to Hawaii take these factors into consideration:
- Age. The Hawaiian government recommends that animals less than 9 weeks of age shouldn’t move until they’re older. Because of their age, they won’t meet the requirements and will go directly into quarantine.
- Health. Chronically ill or debilitated animals may not travel well.
- Adaptability. Some breeds thrive in colder climates. Hawaii has warm, tropical weather year-round and may not be the ideal environment for certain animals.
Are any animals not allowed in the state?
The quarantine brochure states “non-domestic dogs, cats and hybrids such as wolf, wolf cross, Dingo, Bengal, Savannah, etc. are prohibited under Plant Quarantine law.” Also, pregnant animals past 40 days gestation are prohibited from entering until after they give birth.
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 release — $165 per pet
- 5-Day-or-Less program — $224 per pet
- 120-Day quarantine — $1,080 per pet
What happens to my pet when the plane lands?
Once your pet arrives at the airport, aircraft 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 get back to you shortly!