Your pets are part of your family, which is why moving your four-legged friend, feathered buddy, or fur baby to Hawai’i can be the most stressful part of a move. From where your pet will fly to how quarantine works, there are lots of questions you’ll want answered before you depart for your new home in Hawai’i.
Since we’ve got pets of our own, we know how you feel! To help you better understand the moving process, we’ll look at the most frequently asked questions in our 3-part series, Moving Pets to Hawaii.
In Part 1, we’ll give you the answers you need to these important questions:
How Do I Know If It’s Safe to Move My Pet to Hawaii?
What is the Age Requirement for Pets Moving to Hawai’i?
How Much Does it Cost to Transport Pets to Hawai’i?
What is the Best Way to Move My Pet to Hawai’i?
Where Do Pets Fly in the Aircraft?
Keep reading to find out how you can make the move to Hawai’i go as smoothly as possible for you and your pet!
1. How Do I Know If It’s Safe to Move My Pet to Hawaii?
You want what’s best for your pet, so it’s important to make sure that it is safe (and legal) for your animal to be transported to Hawai’i before you get too far into the moving process. The following animals are considered too high risk to be transported via aircraft to any of the Hawaiian Islands:
Non-domestic dogs, cats, and hybrids such as wolf, wolf cross, Dingo, Bengal, and Savannah are prohibited to enter the State of Hawai’i, as are frogs, snakes, most parrots, and many fish. Review the Hawai’i Department of Agriculture’s list of prohibited animals and breeds for specifics. There is a penalty of up to 3 years in prison and fines up to $500,000 for importing an illegal animal to Hawai’i.
Animals that are very young (less than 9 weeks old), very old, chronically ill, pets that are debilitated, or animals with other special medical conditions.
Animals that are 40+ days pregnant. Pregnant animals past 40 days gestation are prohibited from entering the State of Hawai’i. If a pet is discovered to be pregnant during quarantine, it will be held at an approved veterinary facility at the owner’s expense.
Animals that are sensitive to hot temperatures (typically Pugs, Persians, and other short-nosed breeds) may not be well-suited for Hawaii’s year-round tropical weather. If you own a pet that has difficulty in warm environments, use extreme caution when transporting your animal to anywhere in the chain of islands. Keep in mind that high humidity and associated high temperatures generally peak during the summer months of May through October.
Owners of pets with certain sensitivities or other medical requirements must register and arrange for quarantine of their pet at an approved veterinary hospital before arrival.
Travel Tip: Your pet can be quarantined on Kauai or the Big Island, as there are satellite quarantine stations on these Hawaiian Islands. Owners must make prior arrangements with these privately-run facilities.
2. What is the Age Requirement for Pets Moving to Hawai’i?
Kittens and puppies must wait until a certain age to receive both rabies shots, which is one of the requirements for pets moving to Hawai’i. Due to veterinarian-recommended ages for administering safe vaccinations and blood tests, or even tagging pets with a microchip, animals 10 months or younger will unlikely be able to meet all Hawaii’s requirements.
Should a vet clear your young pet to begin the vaccines and take the blood test immediately, it will still take a minimum of 4.5 more months before a young animal can clear all the conditions. The reason? For your pet to be eligible for the 5-day quarantine, 120 days must pass after their blood test is received at the lab.
3. How Much Does it Cost to Transport Pets to Hawai’i?
This answer depends on several factors, including which airline you use for transporting pets to Hawai’i, what their fees and requirements are, where you’re departing from, where your pet will be in the aircraft, and the size and weight of your animal. Although it could cost as little as $200, it may cost more than $1,000.
Let’s say that you have a sweet house cat that you want to move to your new Hawai’i home. Below is a rough estimate of what that might cost if you choose to go with Direct Airport Release and fly your feline to Maui (or another neighbor island other than Oahu).
Fees for animal quarantine once your pet has arrived in Hawai’i (prices do not include airline fees or vet fees):
Full 120-Day Quarantine Program: $1,080 per pet
5 Day-or-Less Quarantine Program: $224 per pet
Direct Release Program at the Airport: $185 per pet
Early Arrivals: All pets arriving before the eligible date of entry will be quarantined and you’ll be charged $14.30 each day in addition to program fees. If your pet arrives early, it will not qualify for the shorter quarantine program. Your pet must remain in quarantine until it has completed the 120-day waiting period after passing an OIE-FAVN rabies serological test.
Pets Not Picked Up Upon Arrival: If you are unable to pick up your pet upon arrival, your pet will be transported to the Animal Quarantine Station in Halawa Valley on Oahu or to an approved animal holding facility on a neighbor island. The cost will be $224 if your pet stays between 0 and 5 days. The fee will be $18.70 per day for any additional days.
Neighbor Island Inspection Permit: $145 + Inspection Fee (if applicable). A Neighbor Island Inspection Permit must be presented to the airline prior to boarding and is required to fly your cat or dog directly to an approved neighbor island airport. This permit is for Direct Release and the 5 Day-or-Less Program only.
The fees above are based on Hawai’i Department of Agriculture’s Animal Quarantine FAQs. You may pay the required fees on-site at the airport. Interested in faster processing? Mail a cashier’s check or money order for the exact amount (Payable to: Department of Agriculture) to the Animal Quarantine Station with the required documents 10 days or more prior to arrival. Payment must be submitted with the AQS-278 Dog and Cat Import Form to ensure proper credit.
Please Note: There are no discounts for multiple pets. There are also no discounts for owners that provide food for their pet. The U.S. Department of Defense may reimburse active duty military members with dogs or cats up to $550 per family for quarantine expenses. Military members should check with their command on whether this is available to them.
Here are some additional fees for moving animals to Hawai’i:
Airline / Travel Fees (Rough estimate)
International Air Transport Association-Compliant Pet Kennel Crate: $75
Airline Ticket: $350
Flea/Tick Medication: $30
Rabies Vaccinations (Hawai’i is the only state that is rabies-free and this ensures we keep it that way): $45 (x2) = $90
OIE-FAVN Blood Test: $250
Health Certificate: $65
Lab Testing: $90
4. What is the Best Way to Move My Pet to Hawai’i?
Once again, this depends on where you’re departing from, how many pets you are transporting, and what time of year you are planning on arriving in Hawai’i. Be sure to do your research and plan ahead before deciding on an airline to fly with. And even if you’ve never moved a pet before, don’t worry! Airlines successfully fly pets to Hawai’i every day and will be happy to answer your questions.
Keep in mind that most airlines require travelers with pets to book at least 20 to 30 days (and sometimes up to 45 days) in advance, so don’t drag your feet when it comes to planning. And stay as organized as possible!
Some commercial airlines offer pet transportation services to Hawai’i that include climate controlled, pressurized, and comfortable areas to hold them. United Airlines and Alaska Airlines are commonly recommended for transporting pets to the islands from the Continental U.S., while Hawaiian Airlines is suggested for inter-island flights.
Pets can actually recover quickly from the trip to Hawai’i. As pet owners, the move can be a lot more stressful for us than our animals! The best thing to do is focus on research, planning ahead, getting all your paperwork in order, meeting all the quarantine and airline specifications, and reminding yourself that you’ll soon be living in Hawai’i with your pet and this will all be worth it!
Travel Tip from Kevin O’Brien of PetRelocation.com, which specializes in pet transport: “Sedation is by far the worst possible thing you can do to your pet before their long flight. Sedation, mixed with altitude, creates a dangerous cocktail that prevents the animals from using their natural ability to regulate their body temperature and to control their own stress. We suggest that the human take the pill, as the pet will have a better experience than most humans when flying with commercial airlines.”
If your pet weighs over 70 pounds (like a Great Dane) and you don’t want to fly them as cargo… but they simply would not be comfortable riding under the seat in front of you, then you do have other options. For those that can afford it, you can arrange for special flight services, charter a private jet, or pay for a private cruise.
5. Where Do Pets Fly in the Aircraft?
There are no Department of Agriculture Animal Quarantine requirements regarding this, so as far as where your pet flys, this is determined by each airline. Most airlines only allow a certain number of pets per flight to Hawai’i. Be sure to inquire about this early on, as the number can change depending on the time of year.
Other airlines have travel restrictions for certain types of pets (most notably short-nosed breeds), as well as temperature restrictions to ensure that your animal is safe from extreme cold or heat in the animal holding areas, terminal facilities, when moving between terminal and aircraft, or when on an aircraft awaiting departure.
Some airlines will permit pets to fly in the cabin of the airplane, provided that they fit properly under the seat at your feet, and the combined weight of both the kennel crate and your pet does not exceed 70 pounds (no offense to the Great Dane)! Pets who will be undergoing the full 120-day quarantine program, however, are not allowed to fly in the cabin with you.
Whenever possible, opt for your pet to ride in the cabin!
Should your pet be permitted to fly in the cabin, take into consideration where you and your fuzzy travel companion will be seated on the plane. Now’s the time to fly first-class (provided that your pet is allowed in the cabin), since you’ll both have more room and more attention from flight attendants.
If you’re not flying first-class, we recommend a spot on the plane with more under-the-seat space, such as the center seat or window seat (as opposed to the aisle seat).
Answering All Your Questions About Moving to Hawai’i With a Pet
Wondering how to safely move your cat to Maui in the passenger cabin? Getting your dog ready to fly to Oahu as cargo? Our Hawai’i Life agents will be offering more helpful information in Part 2 and Part 3 of our blog series, Moving Pets to Hawaii, including: airline requirements for pet crates, preparing your pet’s kennel for the aircraft, preparing your pet for traveling in a kennel, and how to spend as little time as possible away from your furry friend with Direct Airport Release or the 5-Day-or-Less Program.
If you have any questions about moving your pets to Hawai’i in the meantime, feel free to ask us in the comments!