How to Travel to Hawaii With a Pet

Bringing pets from other countries to the United States or traveling with pets from one U.S. contiguous state to another seems to be an easy task. However, if you plan to have an Aloha holiday with your pet, things can be pretty different. Hawaii is relatively stricter and has a challenging process before allowing pets to enter the islands.

No surprise, as Hawaii is the only rabies-free American state and is consistent in its efforts to protect the islands. With that, you must be prepared to comply with the quarantine process and other requirements for your adorable pet to enter the State. Don’t fret, though! We’ve listed everything you must know so you and your pet can have a wonderful and safe visit to Hawaii.

Hawaii’s Rabies Quarantine Program

Starting in 1912, state officials from Hawaii have implemented a quarantine system to ensure that rabies won’t be introduced to the islands. There was an imminent fear that any rabid pet might come in close contact with a feral animal, transferring the disease into the wild. Nonetheless, the initial confinement period was 120 days and was only reduced in 1997, bringing it down to only 30 days.

Six years later, Hawaii again toned down its pet quarantine system, implementing the “5 Days Or Less Quarantine” program effective on June 30, 2003, which made it easier not only for Hawaiian residents to travel with their pets outside but also for pet owners outside the state to enter the islands with their pets.

Managers of the program that the move to reduce the quarantine period from 30 days to 5 days doesn’t pose an imminent threat of rabies getting into the Aloha state. That is because the program sets other protocols, such as a 90-day waiting period after the recent vaccination and a 120-day waiting period after a successful blood antibody (FAVN) test. In 2018, a new rule reduced both required periods to only 30 days. Other requirements needed include proof of two rabies vaccinations and a functioning microchip for identification.

Once the criteria are met, a pet will only need to stay up to 5 days at the quarantine facility. Of course, pet owners need to pay fees for the stay of their pet at the facility.

Here’s a summary of Hawaii’s “5 Days or Less” Program:

  • Your pet should have been vaccinated for rabies twice in his or her lifetime, with the second shot administered at least a month apart after the first vaccination.
  • Your pet’s most recent vaccination should have been made no less than 30 days upon arrival.
  • Your pet has an implanted and functioning microchip for identification.
  • Your pet should pass the blood serum (OIE-FAVN) rabies test and complete the 30-day waiting period before arrival. A passing test has only 36-month validity.
  • Your pet should have received the required tick treatment from a veterinarian within 14 days prior to arrival. Treatment should be documented on the health certificate.
  • All documents must be sent at least ten (10) days before the pet’s arrival.
  • The Direct Release Airport fee is $185, while the cost for the 5 Days or Less stay at the facility is $244.

If your pet doesn’t meet or pass the requirements, your dog or cat may be held at the quarantine facility for up to 120 days, depending on his or her condition.

Additional Tips

  • If you want your pet released the same day, ensure that the flight arrives anytime from 8 am to 3:30 pm. That will allow ample time for your pet to undergo and complete the inspection process before the closing time at 5 pm.
  • If you’re worried about how your pet fared in the flight, a quick visual inspection is permitted at the airport holding facility.
  • Should your pet be quarantined, you can visit him or her at the quarantine station Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1:00 pm to 4:30 pm, Wednesdays from 1:00 pm to 5:30 pm, and Saturdays and Sundays from 12:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Note that the quarantine facility is closed during Mondays, Fridays, and holidays.
  • Pets of travelers from the United Kingdom, Guam, Australia, and New Zealand are exempted from the quarantine process. They have equivalent or more stringent rabies-prevention protocols implemented in their countries. Long as the pet has lived at least six months in the said countries and passed the other requirements, no quarantine is needed.