At PawLife.com, we are all about travel with your pets. Our pets are like family, and we know that yours are too, and you certainly do not want to leave them behind when you go to a location with lots of outdoor activities that you can do together.
However, for very good reasons, travelling to Hawaii with your pets is designed to keep the islands safe from illness and diseases they do not have and do not want. So, we’ve compiled a list of the most frustrating parts of your preparations and travel should you want to bring your dog to Hawaii. Hawaii is the only state in the Union that is rabies free — and they aim to keep it that way. Consequently, Hawaii has lots of rules related to pets coming from our mainland. The quarantine issue looms large so let’s deal with it first.
The general rule is that every animal that comes into Hawaii must face quarantine for 120 days (4 months). So, if you’re going to Hawaii for a two-week vacation, it doesn’t make much sense to take Rover or Miss Kitty with you. There is an expedited program that lasts just 5 days but, again, doesn’t seem to make much sense for a short vacation. Hawaii imposes the costs for the quarantine on you. (It’s against the law for the state of Hawaii and its people to pay for your pet’s quarantine.) For the 120-day program, the cost is $1,080 per pet. The 5-day program is $224 for each pet. There is no discount if you have more than one pet.
How does your pet qualify for the expedited 5-day quarantine? You have to jump through a lot of hoops so let’s get started.
- First, your dog has to have a microchip and you have to provide a blood sample for identification. You have to send the blood sample to an approved lab for the OIE-Fluorescent Antibody Serum Neutralization (OIE-FAVN) rabies test.
- Second, your pet has to have had 2 rabies shots in his lifetime, with the second shot administered no less than 30 days after the first one. The most recent rabies vaccine your vet must administer no less than 90 and no more than 12 months before arriving in Hawaii for one-year vaccines. If your pet has had a 3-year vaccine, then your vet must administer the most recent no less than 90 and no more 36 months before arrival in Hawaii.
- Your pet must complete a 120-day waiting period after the lab receives the blood sample for testing and before arrival in Hawaii. Then, when he arrives in Hawaii, he has to serve the 5-day quarantine. So, it appears that your pet either serves the 120-day quarantine in Honolulu or he waits at home 120 days after applying to come but before he travels to Honolulu.
- If your pet arrives before the end of the waiting period, he will have to serve the full 120-day quarantine in Hawaii after passing the rabies test. And Hawaii will charge you $14.30 each day that he is in quarantine plus the $224 for the 5-day quarantine.
There are exceptions to this strict rule, right? Guide dogs and other certified service dogs may qualify under the pre-arrival waiting period rules. Otherwise, there are exceptions but they do not apply to the US. Pets imported from New Zealand, Australia, Guam, or the UK do not face quarantine. These countries are also rabies free.
The following is less of an exception than a health provision. If your pet has a medical issue exacerbated by quarantine in the regular quarantine facility, you may request quarantine in an approved veterinary hospital. You must make all the arrangements and pay all the fees. It usually takes two days after you pay all fees for the animal to transport from the airport holding facility to the approved veterinary hospital.
This process only gets more stressful for your pet once he de-planes. All animals must fly into Honolulu. Airport personnel will transport the pet from the plane to the airport quarantine holding facility where they take the pet out of the travel kennel and put him in an indoor kennel with fresh water (you can request food, too).
- Two vans a day transport the animals from the holding facility to the official quarantine facility. Animals arriving before 3 pm will travel to the official quarantine facility that day. Animals arriving after 3 pm will stay overnight in the holding facility and go to the main quarantine facility the next day. Note: The rules allow you one brief visual inspection of your pet after its arrival at the airport holding facility. You can also call the airport facility for updates on your pet.
- If Hawaii is only a lay-over for you, your pet must stay in quarantine the entire time you are in Hawaii. If your stay in Hawaii is less than 24 hours, you must call the Hawaiian Humane Society before your arrival to request them to house your pet in its Animal Port during your stay. Make sure they know your arrival and departure information.
Pet visits while in quarantine. The rules allow you visits while your pet is in the quarantine facility. The official website for the Hawaii Animal Industry Division lists pet visiting hours as: Tuesdays, Thursdays: 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Wednesdays: 1:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Saturday, Sunday: 12:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. The quarantine facility closes on Mondays, Fridays, and all state holidays.
You can also see more information on the official site about facility locations and the list of approved veterinary hospitals.
The paperwork before you qualify for quarantine. Every pet entering Hawaii needs a health certificate from a certified veterinarian issued within the 14-days before you arrive in Hawaii. You also need your pet’s rabies and other vaccinations records. Only pets free of parasites and treated for ticks qualify for quarantine.
Haven’t thrown up your hands in frustration, yet? Let’s move on to Rover’s flight plans. Hawaii’s Animal Industry Department does not have rules on how your pet flies to Honolulu. Individual airlines set their own rules about pet travel. Here are a few examples.
- Alaska Airlines. In February, no pets fly in or out of Hawaii. November 1- January 31 and March 1 – April 1, only one pet per flight in cargo. April 2 – October 31: standard pet rules apply, such as short-nosed dogs cannot fly in cargo. Short-nose breeds includes boxers, Boston terriers, chow-chows, pit bulls, mastiffs, pugs, etc. For cats, it means no Burmese, Persian, Himalayan, or other exotic short hair cat breeds. Alaska may bar animals from cargo during extreme temperatures, and Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday times. All pets must have a health certificate before boarding. Alaska allows smaller animals in the cabin on a space available basis.
- Hawaiian Airlines. No pets in carry-on on international flights or in/out of JFK Airport. The airline allows pets in cargo on international flights at a fee of $225 each way. In cases of extreme temperatures, the airlines may forbid pet travel in cargo. Hawaiian also limits the number of pets on each flight, so a reservation for Rover is a must.
- United Airlines. No pets as carry-on when traveling to or from Hawaii. United Airlines has special pressurized pet compartments in cargo just like the passenger compartment for people. No short-nosed dogs in cargo during summer months with extreme heat and the airline may ban all animals from cargo during times of extreme temperatures. The airline bases the cost to ship your pet on the combined weight of your pet and the carrier. International fees vary.
- JetBlue: No live pets in cargo. JetBlue only permits small pets under 20 pounds including the carrier in the cabin, limited to 4 pets per plane.
- American Air: No pets in cabin to Honolulu. American allows pets to fly as cargo to Honolulu, subject to extreme temperature rules, with a health certificate from your veterinarian. Cost is $175 each way. No pets on flights over 12 hours. American does not permit short-nosed dogs and cats in cargo.
Recapping Rover’s travel timeline
We thought it would be helpful to give you an idea of how much flight time Rover will rack up to Honolulu, including layovers, from New York, Houston, and LA.
New York to Honolulu (non-stop) on Hawaii Air, JetBlue, or United: about 10 hours, 55 minutes.
New York to Honolulu (connecting flights): United: 21 hours
Houston to Honolulu (non-stop): United Air: 8 hours, 15 minutes
Houston to Honolulu (connecting flights): American Air: 10 hours, 30 minutes
Los Angeles to Honolulu (non-stop): Alaska, American: 6 hours; United, Hawaiian: 5 hours 45 minutes.
Los Angeles to Honolulu (connecting): American: 6 hours; other airlines: 5 hours, 35 minutes
A few (de-)parting words.
Only you (and possibly your vet) know your pet well enough to decide if he or she can endure the stress of travel to Honolulu plus the stress of the stay in quarantine. Always bear in mind that travel invites delays. The travel times listed above (which are estimates at best) do not include delays caused by equipment failure, bad weather, or any of the myriad things that can go wrong on a trip.
If you decide after reading this post to travel with your best friend to Honolulu, we wish you the best of luck. Let us know at PawLife.com if you have gone to Hawaii with your pet and how your experience was.