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Traveling With Dogs to Hawaii: What to Know Before You Go

Rachael Gerkensmeyer

By Rachael Gerkensmeyer

pomeranian dog on board in a plane with owner

If you’re someone who doesn’t like leaving home without your canine companion, you may be wary when it comes to going to faraway places, such as Hawaii. After all, you must travel over the ocean, which is thousands of miles no matter what side of the Pacific you’re coming from. Is it worth traveling with a dog to Hawaii? Are there any special rules or regulations that must be followed? How do dogs travel to and from the state? Where can dogs stay and go there? Here’s what you should know.

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Hawaii Doesn’t Have Rabies, So There Are Rules About It

The state of Hawaii has so far succeeded in keeping rabies at bay due to the quarantine rules and regulations that have been put into place. You can’t just travel to Hawaii with your dog like you can to any other state in the country. There are steps that you must take and rules that you must follow to get your dog into the state legally. Importing your pup illegally is virtually impossible unless you can book a charter plane and somehow figure out how to avoid customs.

Dog In Airplane Carrier
Image Credit: Cameron Cross, Shutterstock

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Hawaii’s Regulations for Importing a Dog Into the State

There is a quarantine process that everyone bringing a dog into Hawaii must follow, whether they are moving to the state or just visiting. The state provides a checklist guide for those who are looking to bring their dog from out of state to Oahu or the other islands within the state network. The guidelines for Oahu are different from those for neighboring islands. Here’s the lowdown.

  • Your dog must be microchipped before rabies testing takes place, which is required before arrival.
  • Your dog must have been vaccinated for rabies at least twice before arrival.
  • The most recent rabies vaccine must have been administered at least 30 days before arrival.
  • Your dog must get an FAVN rabies antibody test with negative results before arrival.
  • The FAVN test results must be dated no less than 30 days and no more than 36 months before arrival.
  • After you receive negative FAVN rabies test results, there is a mandatory 30-day waiting period before your dog can arrive on Oahu.
  • Documents that prove rabies vaccinations and FAVN rabies test results must be submitted to the state at least 10 days prior to arrival.

Arriving on Oahu With Your Dog From Out of State

For specific requirement details and more information about getting all your paperwork and plans in order, check out the state’s official checklist here.

If you fail to meet any of the requirements set forth by the state, you run the risk of being turned away and having to fly back to where you came from or putting your pup in a quarantine center that might end up being longer than your vacation time overall. So, if you don’t want to or cannot meet the requirements, it’s best to kennel your pup or find a babysitter for them at home rather than bring them along to Hawaii.

Arriving on Oahu’s Neighboring Islands With Your Dog From Out of State

  • All requirements for arriving on Oahu must be met.
  • You must find a veterinarian on the island you’ll be arriving on who is able and willing to do an inspection.
  • A health certificate dated within the last 14 days must be presented to the inspecting veterinarian.
  • The veterinarian must treat your dog for ticks upon arrival.
  • It is your responsibility to schedule a veterinarian inspection to happen upon arrival or your dog might end up in quarantine.

Veterinarians in Hawaii are extremely familiar with the important process, so they can address all your questions and concerns and ensure that you take all necessary steps before your arrival. You can find more information here.

Young happy veterinary nurse smiling while playing with a dog
Image Credit: David Herraez Calzada, Shutterstock

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What Happens If Your Paperwork Isn’t Submitted in Time

If you don’t get your paperwork submitted to the state of Hawaii in time, even if you bring the paperwork with you, your dog will be quarantined for 5 days (sometimes less) while everything gets verified. If you don’t turn your paperwork in at all, your dog will be quarantined for at least 14 days. There is a daily quarantine charge that you’ll be responsible for, which can put a damper on your overall trip. The cost of quarantine can vary, but you can determine the specific expenses that you’d be responsible for by emailing rabiesfree@hawaii.gov.

The Cost of Importing Your Dog to Hawaii

The state of Hawaii does charge a fee for accepting your pup into paradise, as it helps offset the costs of managing a rabies-free place. If your dog qualifies for direct release from the airport (all rules and requirements have been met), you’ll pay about $185 per dog that’s arriving in Hawaii with you. If for some reason your pup ends up in the 5-day or less quarantine program (not all rules or regulations have been met), you’ll pay about $244 per pup.

Don’t Let the Rules and Regulations Overwhelm You

While Hawaii’s regulations for bringing a dog to the state might seem overwhelming at first glance, the truth is that working with a vet should make the process easy. There are just a few steps that you must do, such as have rabies vaccines administered and get a rabies test to gain entry into the state with your pup. There are time limits to consider, but everything can be easily streamlined.

The most important thing that you can do is start planning early. Give yourself a year to plan, prepare, and execute your travel plans. Don’t hesitate to contact the state of Hawaii (rabiesfree@hawaii.gov) with any questions and concerns that you have, and you’ll be pointed in the right direction.

dog getting a vaccine
Image Credit: Syda Productions, Shutterstock

Flying With Your Dog to Hawaii

All airline companies have their own specific rules and regulations when it comes to flying with dogs. Some don’t allow dogs in their cabins or cargo spaces at all. Others only allow cargo travel, while some only welcome dogs small enough to fly in the cabin. The cost of transporting your dog on a plane will vary depending on what airline you fly with. It is important to contact the airline’s customer service directly to find out its policies for flying with your dog to the state of Hawaii. The service workers understand the state’s laws and can help guide you through the travel experience.

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If you’re only visiting Hawaii for a couple of weeks or less, it may not be worth going through all the trouble of bringing your dog with you unless it’s for a special reason. If you plan to visit for any longer, the process and costs associated with traveling to Hawaii with your dog(s) shouldn’t put too much of a damper on your travel plans.

Featured Image Credit: nadisja, Shutterstock

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