Moving To Hawaii

Moving Pets to Hawai’i

Did you know that Hawai’i is the only state that is rabies free? Because of this, moving pets from the mainland requires a bit of planning and forethought. The Department of Agriculture has oversight of the rabies quarantine program and has made efforts to make this less burdensome for pet owners.

As of August 31, 2018, the state of Hawai’i has revised the 5 Day or Less Rabies Quarantine Program to make it easier for folks to bring along their furry friends. Under previous requirements, there was a waiting period of 120 days after a successful blood antibody test and a waiting period of 90 days from the last rabies vaccination before arriving in Hawaii. The new rules shorten those waiting periods to 30 days for both requirements.

two cats playing in cardboard boxes, moving to a new house

Under this program, pets are eligible for direct airport release as long as they meet the following criteria:

  • Vaccinated for rabies twice in its lifetime. (The two vaccinations may not be administered less than 90 days of each other and the most recent vaccine must be administered no less than 30 days prior to the pet’s entry into the state.)

  • Electronic microchip implantation.

  • Blood serum (OIE-FAVN) rabies test results with > 0.5 U/mil level of rabies antibodies.

  • 30-day pre-arrival waiting period between the time the lab receives the blood sample and the earliest date the pet may enter the state under the program.

  • Health certificate issued by an accredited veterinarian no more than 14 days before arriving in Hawaii indicating the pet is not showing signs of infectious or contagious disease and was treated for ticks and fleas.

  • Found to be free of external parasites upon arrival inspection.

  • Required paperwork must be received more than 10 days prior to the pet’s arrival.

    • Owners must complete the Dog and Cat Import Form, AQS-279.

    • There are four Checklists that are specific to the location of the dog or cat being imported into Hawaii and their intended destination. Refer to the Checklist Guide and reference the list that fits your situation.

There are a handful of veterinarians on the Big Island that can assist you with some of the process.  Kona Veterinary ServiceAli’i Veterinary Hospital, and Keauhou Veterinary Hospital, LLC all participate in the Direct Airport Release program.

If this seems too overwhelming, there are also companies that can manage this process.

  • Island Pet Movers is a Hawai’i-based company. They prepare all documentation for the State of Hawai’i, gather all documents directly from your vet clinic (or clinics), file the Import forms for you, review the health certificate prior to the flight, and send you checklists for your pet’s crate preparation and travel on the day of departure. Island Pet Movers also researches all travel options to help you find what will work best for you and makes all flight reservations for your pets.

  • Animal Land Pet Movers have been successfully transporting pets since 1998. Animal Land Pet Movers is licensed by the USDA as intermediate animal handlers, is a member of the Independent Pet and Animal Transportation Association (IPATA), and strictly complies with all Animal Welfare Act’s rules and regulations.

  • Happy Tails Travel is an experienced pet relocation company that has been safely shipping pets since 1995. At Happy Tails Travel, they safely ship pets by air and by ground to Hawai’i. Happy Tails Travel will customize and assist pet owners with all of the details and logistics of your pet’s move for a hassle-free, safe journey for your animal and peace of mind for you.

  • navigates regulations and paperwork to facilitating travel logistics, PetRelocation is a full-service pet travel agency. PetRelocation only works with clients who hire them to oversee the entire pet relocation process to ensure a safe move and happy pet.

For more information on the process involved, please visit

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Linda Hussey

September 21, 2023

Great information Jeanna !

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