A lovely Hawaiian holiday sounds perfect for people and pets alike. And passing between states is not an issue in the contiguous majority. So it might surprise you to learn how complicated it can be to meet Hawaii’s pet travel requirements. The Aloha State is rabies-free, is strict with dogs and cats when they come to visit.

Woman and dog walking on a pet friendly beach in Hawaii

Understanding Hawaii’s Pet Travel Requirements

If you want to travel with pets to Hawaii, it’s best to start planning your vacation early. This will give you time to prepare your pet for Hawaii’s 5-Day-Or-Less quarantine program. If you’re successful, your pet might even leave the airport with you. Unfortunately for dogs and cats that do not meet the 5-Day-Or-Less program conditions, they’re subject to a quarantine of up to 120 days upon arrival in Hawaii.

Note: Special rules apply to assistance dogs. Please check with the proper authorities to meet their requirements.

Blind woman and her Golden Retriever service dog

Why Is Hawaii So Strict With Visiting Pets?

The reason for Hawaii’s strict pet travel policies is that it’s the only state in the United States that is rabies-free. Since rabies doesn’t exist in Hawaii, pets who live there don’t get vaccinated for the virus.

That means the Hawaiian government has to be extremely strict when it comes to four-legged tourists. Dogs and cats traveling to Hawaii need to prove they won’t introduce rabies into Hawaii’s unique ecosystem.

Can Dogs and Cats Fly In-Cabin to Hawaii?

The Hawaii government doesn’t impose any limitations on how your pet reaches the state. However, we have only found ONE airline that allows in-cabin pet travel to Hawaii: Alaska Airlines. Hawaiian Airlines permits only small cats and dogs to fly in the passenger cabin on inter-island flights and on flights leaving Hawaii.

Keep in mind that service animals and emotional support animals may qualify for in-cabin pet travel with other airlines. Here we are specifically referring to pets that are not qualified service or support animals.

READ MORE ⇒  US Airline Pet Polices


Hawaii’s Animal Quarantine Options and Costs

To prevent rabies from entering the state, Hawaiian law requires that dogs, cats, and carnivores complete either the 120-Day or 5-Day-Or-Less rabies quarantine program. As part of the 5-Day-Or-Less program, pets may qualify for Direct Airport Release, which allows them to leave the airport with their owner after passing inspection.

Pet owners are responsible for all quarantine costs, and there are no discounts for multiple pets. Currently, the 120-Day quarantine program is $1,080 per pet, the 5-Day-Or-Less program is $244 per pet, and Direct Airport Release costs $185 per pet.

Surfing Dog, Happy Young Golden Retriever on Surf Board

Meeting the Requirements for 5-Day-Or-Less Quarantine

For anyone visiting Hawaii with their pet, the 120-Day quarantine program doesn’t make sense. So, let’s focus on what it takes to meet the 5-Day-Or-Less quarantine requirements, with the hope that your pet will qualify for direct airport release.

The 5-Day-Or-Less quarantine requires meeting ALL of the following conditions:
  • Pets must have received at least two rabies vaccinations in their lifetime, and 30 days must pass between the two vaccinations.
  • Thirty days must pass between the most recent vaccination and the pet’s arrival in Hawaii. But not more than twelve months can pass for a 1-year vaccination, and not more than 36 moths for a 3-year vaccination.
    • What is the 30 day waiting period? If your dog or cat needs a rabies vaccination before your trip, you must wait 30 days after administering the vaccination before entering Hawaii. If you do not wait 30 days, your pet will stay in quarantined until the 30 day period has lapsed.
  • Pets must have a working microchip implanted by a veterinarian for identification purposes.
  • The pet’s blood sample, identified by the microchip ID number, must have been tested by specified laboratories for rabies antibodies between 30 days and 36 months prior to arriving in Hawaii, and the results must have been successful.
    • Again with the 30 days? Yes. There is a 30-day waiting period after passing the OIE-FAVN rabies test. If your pet arrives in Hawaii before the 30-days have passed, he will be quarantined until the period has lapsed.
  • A veterinarian must treat your pet with an approved tick prevention medication not more than 14 days prior to arriving in Hawaii.
  • All required fees and documents, including the import form, two most recent rabies certificates, and a health certificated completed within 14 days of arriving in Hawaii, must be submitted to the Animal Quarantine Station in Hawaii according to the detailed rules so they are received more then 10 days before your arrival.

Qualifying for Direct Airport Release

To qualify for Direct Airport Release, your pet needs to meet all the above requirements and arrive in Hawaii during normal inspection hours after clearing US Customs. Direct release is available at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu, Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole (Big Island), Kahului Airport (Maui), and Lihue Airport (Kauai) .

Before scheduling a flight, confirm the inspection hours and procedures at your destination airport. And remember that it can take up to one hour for the airlines to transport a pet to the Airport Animal Quarantine Holding Facility.

If your pet qualifies for direct release, but you’re not able to pick him up by the end of the day, he’ll be transferred to the Animal Quarantine Station the following morning as part of the 5-day-or-less program. You’ll be responsible for the fees for that program, plus daily quarantine costs.

READ MORE ⇒ Keeping Your Dog Safe At The Beach

Honey the golden retriever and Pam wait on the beach at Fort Matanzas. | GoPetFriendly.com

What if Your Pet Doesn’t Qualify for the 5-Day-Or-Less Program?

There are several reason why pets might not qualify for the 5-Day-Or-Less program. For example, puppies and kittens can’t meet all the requirements until they’re about 10 months old. And any pet who arrives before their 30-waiting period has lapsed, hasn’t had two rabies vaccinations, or hasn’t had or has failed the blood test, will be subject to a longer quarantine period.

If your pet doesn’t initially meet the conditions of the 5-Day-Or-Less program when entering Hawaii, but comes into compliance during their quarantine period, they can be released before the 120-days. Pets that are not able to meet the requirements will be quarantined for 120 days.

Hawaiian residents traveling from Hawaii with their pets must meet requirements similar to those for the 5-Day-Or-Less quarantine program. If they don’t, quarantine is required for up to 30 days upon their return.

Visiting Your Pet in Quarantine

While in quarantine, owners can spend time their pets during afternoon visiting hours. And appointments to use the on-site grooming facilities can be scheduled. However, unless they’re being groomed, pets must stay in their kennels.

The quarantine centers handle minor ailments and administer medication, but do not have facilities for major medical problems. In case of emergency, pet owners must select, contact, and register with a state-approved veterinary facility. Most veterinarians require a deposit prior to accepting an animal for evaluation. So contacting several hospitals to obtain deposit and price information could be in your best interest.

Black and white photo of a surfer holding his surf board with a German Shepherd Dog beside him

Additional Information

For additional information on Hawaii’s pet travel policies, contact the Animal Quarantine Station.

Animal Quarantine Station
99-951 Halawa Valley Street
Aiea, Hawaii 96701
Phone: (808) 483-7151
Airport Animal Quarantine Holding Facility Phone: (808) 837-8092
Email: [email protected]

Website: http://hdoa.hawaii.gov/ai/aqs/animal-quarantine-information-page/

You can find more general tips on traveling with pets on our Tips & Resources page.

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    • Hi Daniel! Yes, the requirements for pets traveling to Hawaii apply to both cats and dogs.

  • Is there a way for me to fly into Honolulu with my dog stay overnight at a hotel then fly out the next morning?

    • Hi Sandy! Flying with a dog to Hawaii requires a lot of advance preparation — perhaps more than it’s worth for an overnight stay. But, if that’s the route you decide to go, you’d need to be sure your dog has completed the protocol and you’ve got all the documentation submitted before your trip. There are airlines that fly to Hawaii and allow dogs. For example, Hawaiian Airlines allows small dogs and cats to fly in the passenger cabin on inter-island flights and on flights arriving/leaving Hawaii. However, the combined weight of the pet and carrier must not exceed 25 pounds. You can find out more about airline pet policies in this blog post >> https://www.gopetfriendly.com/blog/airline-pet-policies/
      Good luck and safe travels!

  • what if you live in Hawaii and want to bring your small dog with you when you travel to the mainland? Do the same rules apply for re-entering the state?

    • Hi Suz! I believe that the rules are similar for traveling pets that live in Hawaii. Check with your veterinarian and with the airline you’ll be flying, but I think dogs and cats need to be vaccinated for rabies, receive a booster, and then have a blood test confirming the vaccination was effective before they can fly to the mainland. Then there’s no need for testing/quarantine on your return. I hope that helps and that you have a wonderful trip!

  • Category: Travel Resources / Tagged with: Hawaii