Moving house is stressful for anyone - moving with a beloved four-legged family member has its own added worries. And, moving with a pet to Hawaii is even more complicated! If you take some time to prepare your pet, and plan ahead, your move to Hawaii will be as seamless as possible.
Preparing your pet
Some cats and dogs become anxious when their home is being packed up. To minimize a cat’s distress, keep them in one room until the end of the packing process. For dogs, ask an understanding friend to take your dog to their home for a visit while the packing process takes place.
If your pet has not spent much time in a crate (ever OR recently), be sure they spend some quality time in a crate for weeks ahead of your trip to get acclimated or re-acclimated. Begin by putting their food in the crate with the door open and then eventually close the door while they eat. You can also try carrying your pet around in the crate in the house, taking short car trips with them in the crate, or incorporating it into playtime, by throwing a ball into an open-doored crate during a game of fetch.
There is a very good reason that the state of Hawaii adheres to such strict requirements regarding moving a pet to the island chain: Hawaii is the only rabies-free state in the United States! So the state enforces these rigorous laws in order to keep its residents, visitors and pets from being exposed to this dangerous disease.
The state released updated requirements on Aug. 31, 2018, which allows a shorter waiting period than previously required to travel with your pet after completing a FAVN rabies antibody blood test.
A very detailed list of the instructions for the direct release and five day or less program can be found here: Checklist. Be sure to read them in entirety.
*** Any pet which qualifies for the five day or less program also qualifies for direct airport release.
** Please note, these guidelines are specific to the island of Oahu - if you are flying with your pet to Kona, Kahului, or Lihue airports, you’ll need a neighbor island inspection permit, which will be an additional cost.
Here are the basics to give you an understanding of the process:
Step 1 Planning
· Meet all requirements on checklist INCLUDING ensuring all required documents are received by the Animal Quarantine Station (AQS) 10 days or more before the intends date of arrival for Direct Airport Release (DAR) in Honolulu.
Step 2 Microchip
· Your dog or cat must have an electronic microchip implanted BEFORE the FAVN test is performed. Ask your vet to scan your pet’s microchip to ensure it is working.
Step 3 Rabies Vaccination
· Your dog or cat must have had at least two rabies vaccinations in its lifetime. There are specific requirements as to the interval between the vaccinations and the documentation you must provide regarding the vaccines administration.
Step 4 FAVN Rabies Antibody Test
· Have your pet tested for FAVN rabies antibodies and have the test sent to an approved lab.(approved lab list on Checklist)
*** after ample time has elapsed, you can go to this web site to search on your pet’s microchip number to be sure your pet’s FAVN test results have been received: http://hdoa.hawaii.gov/ai/aqs/animal-quarantine-microchip-search/
Step 5 Waiting Period
And this is why you MUST plan ahead!
· To qualify for direct airport release or the 5 day or less program, you must wait at least 30 days following a successful FAVN test result before arriving with your pet in Hawaii. If you arrive before the 30 days have elapsed, your pet will be subject to quarantine on the island.
Step 6 Completed Dog and Cat Import Form
· The AQS-279 import form can be found on
· Original certificates for two rabies vaccinations
· An original health certificate drafted within 14 days of arriving in Hawaii including information regarding tick treatment which was administered within 14 days of arrival. You will be able to carry the health certificate with you and submit it upon arrival
** specific information that MUST be included on these forms can be found on https://hdoa.hawaii.gov/ai/files/2018/09/Checklist-1.pdf
Step 7 Submitting Documents by mail beforehand
· Send documents (with return receipt to verify delivery) so they are received more than 10 days before arrival in Honolulu.
· These are the documents you will need to submit beforehand: Dog and Cat Import Form, a cashier’s check or money order for $244 for 5 day or less program or for $185 for direct airport release that includes your pet’s microchip number.
· Retain copies as backup.
When you arrive at the Airport
Dogs and cats arriving in Honolulu are taken by airline personnel to the Airport Animal Quarantine Holding Facility. At this facility, the staff takes pets out of their carriers and places them in indoor kennels with fresh water.
The airport holding facility has specific hours for pickup so be sure to schedule a flight that lands when the facility is open. To avoid an overnight stay for your pet, be sure to check with the Hawaii Department of Agriculture regarding pickup times.
Despite some issues in recent years, United PetSafe is still one of the easiest ways to fly your dog to Hawaii. Last year, the airline released new, more stringent guidelines for the type of dogs and cats it will transport. Out of concern for adverse health effects, it will no longer transport any snub-nosed or strong jawed dogs or cats. Check the web site for detailed guidelines and restrictions.
There are also private companies, such as Island Pet Movers, which will conduct all arrangements and physically fly your pet. Island Pet Movers, which is veteran-owned and operated, can send your pet before or after you leave or arrive. They will bring your pet to your chosen boarding facility and deliver him/her right to your door.
Military members who are on PCS orders can bring their pets on military space-A flights. There are only a few spots available per mission so you must request a pet reservation as soon as you have PCS orders.