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Pet Relocation: Moving Your Pets to Hawaii

Planning a move to Hawaii from the Mainland can be much more difficult than we’d like it to be because, let’s face it, it is a huge move! Besides imagining our household goods and vehicles traveling across thousands of miles over open water, what to pack in our suitcases, and how to stay focused on the move when all we can think about is vacation, we are also thinking about the safety and comfort of our furry family members – our pets.

I cannot tell you the number of different stories I have heard about the process to get our pets to the islands to be with us. With that being said, I’m going to clear up that process for you and provide you with the resources you need to make your move with pets a smooth one, possibly without the need for quarantine.

There are 3 options available for release of your pet during pet relocation to Hawaii. First is the 5-Day-or-Less Program, then the Direct Release Program, and lastly 120-day quarantine. To skip the quarantine process overall, the following steps will need to be taken.

Prior to Your Move

Before you go start the process of preparing your pet for the big move, it is very important that you check with Hawaii’s Department of Agriculture pet importation laws. Hawaii has very strict importation laws and making sure that you are up to date on these laws is imperative. Although your pet may have been allowed to live in the city, state, or country from which you are moving, it does not guarantee that your pet will be allowed to live in Hawaii. Be aware that there is a $500,000 fine for importing an illegal species.

Click here to verify whether or not your pet is eligible for importation.

Visiting the Veterinarian

Hawaii is a rabies-free state. Any animal coming to Hawaii must have an OIE-FAVN rabies blood test. This test cannot be more than three years old and must have been drawn at least 120 days prior to arrival in Hawaii.

All pets must also have a documented history of two rabies shots given by a licensed veterinarian 30 days apart; the last rabies completed more than 90 days prior to arrival. The only acceptable rabies documentation includes the original copies of the vaccines, blood test results, the original health certificate, and fee payments.

All animals must have a verified and documented microchip implanted prior to the administration of the rabies blood test. If a pet cannot be identified by scanning their microchip, it will undergo the full 120-day quarantine. 

Also note that due to the minimum amount of time needed to prepare a puppy or kitten to meet these requirements, the pet will need to be nearly 10 months of age by the time all preparations are completed. Puppies and kittens not able to meet all of these requirements will be quarantined for 120 days.

Finding a Flight

Each airline has specific pet programs, guidelines, breed restrictions, crate regulations, and other information that will need to be clarified and considered before your pet is ready to fly. It is important to check with your airline on their pet policy after you have booked your reservations, and no less than 30 days from your flight date.

For example, when traveling with a cat in 2013, my niece was required to crate her cat in a medium sized crate (read – large enough to fit a medium sized dog) because there had to be an inch of clearance over the cat’s ears when she was sitting in a full upright position.

She was required to have food and water dishes attached inside of the door to the crate, enough food to last the entire duration of travel in a ziplock bag fastened to the top of the crate, her ID tags in a ziplock bag fastened to the top of the crate, zip ties securing the two parts of the crate, “live animal” stickers placed all around the crate so that they were always visible, a copy of the cat’s records attached to the top of the crate, and to pay $250 for the cat’s airfare to travel as baggage in an air compressed compartment versus the cargo compartment.

Arriving at Your Destination

Now that your entire family has made it safely to the islands as comfortably as possible, remember that those feelings of being overwhelmed and stressed are also being felt by your pet(s). To help your pet better settle into the new living arrangements, give your pet the freedom to explore the new house by following the “first to arrive, last to leave” rule of thumb.

Give him/her something familiar to help him to understand that the place is safe, and if they need to be in another room while furniture is being moved or while unpacking, consider using a baby gate instead of a closed door so that they can see everything that is going on and let go of some anxiety.

More Information

I know that every situation is not an ideal one and sometimes we don’t realize that we will be moving until the last minute. Here you can find more information on animal quarantine.

I don't know what I would do without my fur babies!

I don’t know what I would do without my fur babies!

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Heidi White

January 16, 2015

Wow, That is a lot of great information! Thanks for sharing that Julie! Bringing Pets to Hawaii is a detailed process but has really gotten much easier than it used to be!!

Julie A. Edens, R(S)

January 19, 2015

Thanks for the comment Heidi! It really has gotten easier, hasn’t it! I’m so glad that there are options now to keep our four-legged children out of quarantine when they come to join us on the islands!

Heidi White

January 16, 2015

Wow, That is a lot of great information! Thanks for sharing that Julie! Bringing Pets to Hawaii is a detailed process but has really gotten much easier than it used to be!!

Julie A. Edens, R(S)

January 19, 2015

Thanks for the comment Heidi! It really has gotten easier, hasn’t it! I’m so glad that there are options now to keep our four-legged children out of quarantine when they come to join us on the islands!

Melissa

February 26, 2015

I’m really getting concerned, I have a 14 1/2 year old shar pei and a 2 yr old cat. We might be moving to Hawaii due to my husbands job pretty quickly from Texas so I do not have the 18 weeks prior to our leaving . He has obviously had his vaccines for years, what is your advice ? Also I’ve read that airlines won’t except certain dogs due to respiratory risk be checked such as shar pei:(. I had no idea this might be keeping us from moving to Hawaii , help!

Thanks

Julie A. Edens, R(S)

February 27, 2015

Aloha Melissa,
Thanks for reading the blog. I understand your concern for your dog. I would advise looking into all airlines prior to your travels – from my understanding the rules vary slightly. I have sent you a private message with my veterinarian’s telephone number. I hope that helps!
Mahalo,
Julie

Melissa

February 26, 2015

I’m really getting concerned, I have a 14 1/2 year old shar pei and a 2 yr old cat. We might be moving to Hawaii due to my husbands job pretty quickly from Texas so I do not have the 18 weeks prior to our leaving . He has obviously had his vaccines for years, what is your advice ? Also I’ve read that airlines won’t except certain dogs due to respiratory risk be checked such as shar pei:(. I had no idea this might be keeping us from moving to Hawaii , help!

Thanks

Julie A. Edens, R(S)

February 27, 2015

Aloha Melissa,
Thanks for reading the blog. I understand your concern for your dog. I would advise looking into all airlines prior to your travels – from my understanding the rules vary slightly. I have sent you a private message with my veterinarian’s telephone number. I hope that helps!
Mahalo,
Julie

Madeleine Langdon

October 14, 2015

Great post! Thank you for all this important information. I’m moving to Hawaii with my 3 yr old cat in the middle of the next year and I hope I’ll handle with all terms to skip the 120-day quarantine. Thank you for the advises and hints!

Madeleine Langdon

October 14, 2015

Great post! Thank you for all this important information. I’m moving to Hawaii with my 3 yr old cat in the middle of the next year and I hope I’ll handle with all terms to skip the 120-day quarantine. Thank you for the advises and hints!

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