How to Move Your Cat or Dog to Hawaii without going through Quarantine

Now that I’ve successfully moved my cat, Kaie, to Hawaii in one piece and without putting her in quarantine  I feel semi-qualified to write a “how to” post about the process. And believe me, it is a process – about 4 months worth of process. Hawaii is a rabies-free state, so there’s all sorts of hoops to jump through before they’ll let an animal in.

The Hawaii Department of Agriculture (which is the least helpful government agency I’ve ever dealt with) does provide a very confusing checklist to help with their 5-Day or Less Quarantine Program.

1st Vet Trip

  • Rabies shot
  • Microchip
  • Schedule an appointment for the OIE-FAVN Rabies Blood Test

Your animal has to have two rabies vaccinations in his/her life before entering Hawaii. Assuming he/she already had one rabies shot, this will count as the second. If this is your animal’s first rabies shot, wait 30 days and bring him/her back in. This timing is important to getting your animal to Hawaii as fast as possible. The rabies shots have to be 30 days apart, but you have to wait at least 90 days after the second shot to ship your animal.

During the appointment ask your vet about the OIE-FAVN Rabies Blood Test. Your vet will probably recommend waiting a month between the rabies shot and the Blood Test. The blood test confirms that your animal has the ability to fight off rabies (not whether or not he/she has rabies), which is why the shot is important. I was a bit rushed when I was moving Kaie so I only waited 2 weeks and it was fine, but if you have the time I’d recommend waiting the full month.

Before you leave the vet’s office make sure you get an original rabies vaccination certificate with the vet’s ink signature.

If your animal has already had one rabies vaccination, this would be a good time to get your hands on a copy of that original certificate as well.

My case was a bit of a mess. Kaie’s 1st rabies shot was done in Syracuse, NY, her second was in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, and by the time I realized I needed the original copies, I was already in Hawaii. I called both vets and explained what I needed. They were very nice about mailing the documents to me.

2nd Vet Trip

  • OIE-FAVN Rabies Blood Test
  • Rabies shot

The Rabies Blood Test requires the longest lead time. The test has to be sent to Kansas State University (KSU) and your animal can’t enter Hawaii for 120 days after the KSU lab receives the test. If you fly your animal into Hawaii before the 120 day period lapses, then he/she will have to wait out the rest of the time in quarantine.

If your cat/dog needs a second rabies shot this is a good time to get it done, provided it’s been at least 30-days since the first shot.

Make sure you wait 30 days between the two rabies shots, but wait 90 days after the shot to move your animal.

Timing starts to get tricky about two weeks before you fly your pet. All the documentation for your animal (except the health certificate) has to arrive 10 days before your animal lands in Hawaii, but most airlines want to see a Health Certificate less than 10 days old to allow an animal on a flight. Since the Health Certificate is the only piece that doesn’t have to be mailed, I would recommend making copies of the rabies certifications and mailing the originals in a day or two before you schedule the third vet appointment.

The following documents have to be mailed together:

  • 2 original rabies certificates
  • Original Health Certificate done in English (optional – can be brought in the day you pick your pet up)
  • The filled out vet summary
  • A filled out copy of the animal import form
  • The appropriate amount of money ($165  for direct release or $224 for 5-days or less)  Note: they will not accept personal checks. Make sure to send the money in cash or a cashier’s check.

Animal Quarantine Station
99-951 Halawa Valley Street,
Aiea, Hawaii 96701

3rd Vet Trip

  • Original Health Certificate in English
  • Tick treatment

Bring the following documents with you to the vet’s office:

Before you leave make sure the animal is treated with a tick killing product that contains fipronil. I would also recommend asking for 3 copies of the health certificate. Congratulations, your pet is not more or less ready to fly to Hawaii!

When I flew Kaie, I chose to use United Airlines Pet Safe program. They had great reviews and I was impressed with their service. You can find their information here.

On the day you fly, you should still have at least two health certificates with you (three if you didn’t mail one in with the rest of the documentation). Tape one to your animal’s cage so it’s with him/her throughout the flight. Take the other one to the airport, and use it to get her on the plane. Keep the third as a backup in case the airport keeps the second for documentation.

Warning: The Quarantine Center at the airport will keep all the documentation you give them.

So to recap, you’ll need the following tests done:

  • Rabies shot 1
  • Microchip Implant
  • Rabies Blood Test (30 days after Rabies Shot 1 and 120 days before you ship your animal)
  • Rabies Shot 2 (30 days after Rabies Shot 1 and 90 days before you ship your animal)
  • Original Health Certificate in English
  • Tick Treatment

I can’t emphasize enough how important the timing is, and getting original ink signatures of everything. They will not accept any copies at the airport. But, if you do everything listed above and get the paperwork in on time, you shouldn’t have a problem getting your cat or dog onto the island without quarantine.

Good luck (and if you need more help, check out this site)!

-Bridget

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