Unless you're crossing national borders, you don't usually need to worry about special restrictions on taking your dog with you. But if you want to take your pet for a tropical vacation or move your dog to Hawaii, you need to know that the state has very strict entry regulations, designed to keep the islands rabies-free. (To learn basic information about licensing, spaying and neutering your pet, and vaccinations, see Getting a Dog: Legal Considerations.)
In recent years, the rules have been relaxed, so that your dog may be inspected upon arrival and then released directly to you from the airport. But if you haven't gotten the right vaccinations, done all the tests, and submitted the right paperwork ahead of time, you dog could be quarantined for up to four months.
Under previous rules, there was a waiting period of 120 days after a blood antibody (FAVN) test and a waiting period of 90 days from the last rabies vaccination before arriving in Hawaii. But rules effective August 31, 2018 lessen those waiting periods to 30 days for both requirements.
Pets may be released at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu if they complete all the pre-arrival requirements, which include:
You must arrange for your pet to arrive at the Airport Animal Quarantine Holding Facility (AAQHF) at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu during normal inspection hours between 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM. It could take up to one hour for the airlines to transport a pet to AAQHF, and animals not delivered to the facility during normal inspection hours won't be released when they arrive. (Keep in mind that inspection hours can change at any time without notice.)
Those traveling directly to Kahului, Maui; Lihue, Kauai, and Kona have to follow additional requirements for entry, which include getting a Neighbor Island Inspection Permit issued by the Department of Agriculture and showing it to the airline, as well as submitting documents 30 days or more before arrival.
The rules and procedures for bringing your dog to Hawaii are extensive. Check the State of Hawaii's Animal Industry Division website for updated and complete information.
Pets that don't comply with the above requirements are subject to a 120-day quarantine when transported to Hawaii. Not only do you have to give up your pet for the duration of the quarantine, you also have to pay for it ($1,080 as of October 2018). Airlines deliver pets directly to a state holding facility, and the state takes them to the quarantine station on the island of Oahu. Dogs are kept in individual outdoor runs. Owners can visit their dogs during afternoon visiting hours but can't take the animals out of the kennel.
State officials stress that it's important for owners to arrange, in advance, for a private animal hospital to provide emergency veterinary care. The quarantine center handles minor ailments, but it does not have facilities for major medical problems.
Different rules apply to guide and service dogs. If you meet certain requirements, you can keep your dog with you after only a brief examination in the Honolulu airport.
When the dog arrives in Honolulu, airline personnel will take it to the Airport Animal Quarantine Holding Facility. There, the quarantine officials will examine your paperwork and the dog. If everything is in order, you should be able to leave in a relatively short period of time, with your dog.
As you can see, these rules are complicated; they also change from time to time. Make sure you have up-to-date information by checking the state's website, and get your specific questions answered by contacting the quarantine station directly.
Animal Quarantine Station
99-951 Halawa Valley Street
Aiea, Hawaii 96701
According to the state's website, due to the large volume of calls and time zone differences, the best way to contact the Animal Quarantine Station is via email.