UPDATE: Please check out our updated blog on this topic HERE!
We are currently in Waikiki (Honolulu), resting after a fun day of frolicking on the beach, swimming, eating poke, and meeting four (4!) other Cavalier King Charles Spaniels! We’ve received countless messages asking us about the requirements for bringing your dog to Hawaii, so we decided to write a blog post about it.
If you’ve ever thought of bringing your dog to Hawaii, but didn’t know where to start – you’re in luck! In August 2018, Hawaiian Department of Agriculture changed several quarantine rules, and decreased certain waiting times, making the process easier and shorter.
However, please know that failing to comply with every single requirement, and follow the rules precisely, could still leave your dog in quarantine for up to 120 days! So plan in advance, and plan well.
We advise you to read the entire post before you start with the process, as several steps may have to be completed simultaneously. Here is an official checklist that we followed and successfully brought Pika to Oahu without quarantine.
1. Preparation + at the veterinarian
- Two rabies vaccinations
- FAVN antibodies test
2. Waiting period + timing
3. Submitting Documents
4. Anti-Tick Treatment & Veterinary Certificate
5. Airlines and Arriving to Honolulu
6. Hit the beach!
Please note: This post will only describe flying from the mainland (US) to Oahu (Honolulu airport). There is an additional step involved with bringing your pup to the neighboring islands, which we will hopefully write about in the next few months, when we return to this beautiful state!
1. Preparation + at the veterinarian
Start planning your trip to Hawaii well in advance. I recommend 3 months in advance, to be on the safe side. Check the official rules regularly, as they change frequently and may require additional waiting periods.
Visit your veterinarian, and tell them you are planning on taking your dog to Hawaii. If you’re lucky, they will know the procedure, and will help guide you through it. If not, don’t worry. Here are the main points to go through:
Make sure your dog has a microchip implanted. (The veterinarian should scan the microchip to make sure it is working.) If your dog doesn’t have a microchip yet, it is important to have it implanted before the FAVN rabies antibody blood test is performed (see below).
Your dog must have been vaccinated at least twice in their lifetime against rabies, and the vaccinations must have been at least 30 days apart. (Dogs are usually vaccinated against rabies at 4-6 months, and then again 1 year after the first shot). The most recent rabies vaccine must have been administered more than 30 days prior to arrival to Hawaii AND within the designated booster time-interval on the manufacturer’s label. Ask your veterinarian for signed (original, not scanned) copies of all of your dog’s rabies vaccination certificates, as you will need to submit them. Rabies vaccination certificates must contain the following information: Product (manufacturing) name, date administered, route administered, serial lot nr., and the expiration date of the lot.
FAVN Antibodies test:
Because there is no rabies in the state of Hawaii, in addition to your pet being vaccinated against the virus, they also need to pass the FAVN blood test, to be admitted to Hawaii without being quarantined.
There are only three approved laboratories in the US that perform the FAVN test accepted by the Hawaiian Department of Agriculture. These are Auburn University (AU), Kansas State University (KSU) or the DOD Food Analysis and Diagnostic Laboratory in Texas (DOD). Your dog’s blood must be drawn by a USDA accredited veterinarian. (Basically, if your veterinarian doesn’t have a license number with a future expiration date, find a new vet). The easiest way to complete the FAVN test is to have you vet draw your dog’s blood, and send the sample to one of the laboratories directly. This will cost you upward of $200, but will save you trouble (and possibly time). (I think it’s theoretically possible to ship the blood sample yourself, but we don’t have personal experience with it. Kansas State University describes the procedure in more detail here.). The day after one of the licensed laboratories receives your dog’s blood sample must not be more than 36 months, and not less than 30 days before your arrival to Hawaii. If your veterinarian has never experienced FAVN testing, either find a vet that specializes in dog travel, or have your veterinarian read this link, to make sure they follow correct procedures.
2. Waiting period + timing
After you dog’s blood sample has been sent to the FAVN testing facility, it will probably take at least two weeks for any feedback.
Our veterinarian drew Pika's blood and sent it directly to Kansas State University. Kansas State University released the FAVN results to our vet around 20 days after submission. The vet called us, informing us that Pika’s results were ok (greater than or equal to 0.5 IU/ml) and sent us a copy of the FAVN test over email.
The FAVN test must have Hawaii listed under destination, and must include your dog’s microchip number to be valid.
As already mentioned, to avoid quarantine, you must wait AT LEAST 30 days after the date on your dog’s FAVN test results. We didn’t purchase a flight ticket until we received Pika’s FAVN results, just to be on the safe side. (I took Pika to the vet on November 13, received the FAVN results around December 5, purchased our flight on December 20, and flew on January 17).
3. Sending Documents
Once you submitted your dog's blood sample to the FAVN testing facility, you can start filling out the Dog & Cat import form (AQS-279). You will need to send this form along with the rabies certificates (signed in ink by your vet, as noted in 1), and payment* to: Animal Quarantine Station, 99-951 Halawa Valley Street, Aiea, Hawaii 96701.
All documents must be received AT LEAST 10 days before your arrival, and must be sent by mail with return receipt to verify delivery, or by an overnight carrier that provides tracking of your documents.
*The fee for DAR (Direct Airport Release) in Honolulu is $185 and must be submitted either as a cashier’s check, or money order, made out to the Hawaiian Department of Agriculture. No personal checks are accepted. Include your dog’s microchip number on the payment, to ensure proper credit.
Personal Experience: The form AQS-279 allows you to submit the necessary health certificate as a part of the documentation package via mail, or in person upon arrival in Honolulu. We opted for the latter, because of timing: The form AQS-279 needs to be received at least 10 days prior to arrival to Honolulu, and the health certificate must be issued within 14 days of arrival. This would only give us a maximum of 4 days for the documents to arrive from US mainland to Hawaii, which we felt was too risky.
You will not receive any confirmation about your application from the Hawaiian Department of Agriculture. That’s why you need to make sure to submit completed documents, accurate forms, and payment, and track your package to confirm it was received at least 10 days prior to your arrival to Honolulu.
The only information you can check is your pet’s FAVN antibodies test on this Hawaii Department of Agriculture Link.
4. Veterinary Certificate + anti-tick treatment
Upon arrival to Honolulu (or as a part of your document package), you must also submit an original veterinary certificate, issued within 14 days prior to your arrival to Hawaii, with extensive information about your dog’s rabies certificates, veterinarian’s credentials, microchip number, and a confirmation that the vet treated your dog with an approved tick treatment within 14 days of your arrival to Hawaii.
A full list of acceptable tick treatments can be found HERE
You cannot administer the anti-tick treatment yourself. The vet certificate must confirm that the animal was treated with an approved product, and list the product name, as well treatment date.
NOTE: Revolution and similar treatments are not acceptable.
Our veterinarian is very skilled in preparing documentation for animal travel, so he knew exactly what to do, and how to prepare the documentations. He issued both rabies certificates, with original signatures, treated Pika with Frontline, and gave us a complete veterinary certificate that contained all required information.
However, even if your veterinarian has never issued a health certificate for travel to Hawaii, this document from the Hawaiian Quarantine Dept. is an excellent summary to assist your vet in preparing the document.
5. Airlines & Arriving to Honolulu
You will have to inform your airline (in advance) that you’re bringing your pup to Hawaii, as it is the airline’s responsibility to transfer your dog from the aircraft to the Quarantine facility at Honolulu airport.
Not all airlines will allow pets on their flights to Hawaii! (Delta Airlines, for example, does not accept pets in cabin on their flights to Hawaii.) Please call your airline to confirm. We always fly United, and their staff is pretty knowledgeable about the procedure. Pika is an emotional support dog, so we need to submit several documents every time she flies with United anyway.
Assuming you submitted, and/or have with you all required documentation, the final step in bringing your furry best friend to Hawaii will be a veterinary inspection at the Airport Animal Quarantine Holding Facility, where your pup will be checked for external parasites. Transferring your dog from the aircraft to the quarantine facility is organized by your airline, but it is your responsibility to inform the airline that you are traveling with a dog.
Book a flight that arrives to Honolulu Airport (HNL) no later than by 3PM .
The Airport Animal Quarantine Holding Facility at HNL only inspects animals between 8:00 AM and 4:30 PM. If you arrive later than 4:30 pm, your dog will have to stay quarantined overnight. It may take up to one hour for the airline to transport your pet from the aircraft to the Quarantine Facility.
At the quarantine facility, you will have to separate from your dog for about 10 minutes, for your dog to undergo an external parasite inspection.
If you didn’t submit the veterinary form in advance, you will have to present it at the kiosk, together with your ID. (No photos allowed at the facility). If your dog passes the veterinary inspection, you will be issued a “pet release card”, together with your pup, and you will be ready to hit the beach!
Personal experience: We flew from Los Angeles to Honolulu on a direct flight with United Airlines. Our flight was 30 minutes late, and arrived to HNL at 12:32 PM. We submitted Pika’s emotional support documents to United 2 weeks in advance, and they alone coordinated our arrival with the Hawaiian Department of Agriculture. Pika’s documents were already in the United Airlines’ online system when we checked in at Los Angeles International Airport. Upon Arrival to Honolulu, a United ground staff boarded the plane, and escorted us to the Animal Quarantine Facility. This involved a short walk to the shuttle bus, a 5-10 minute shuttle ride, and another 5-10 minute walk on hot tarmac to the quarantine facility. The official rules say that all dogs need to be in an enclosed carrier throughout the journey between the aircraft and the quarantine facility, however, Pika was allowed to sit in my lap, and even potty on a small patch of grass outside the airport. At around 1:35 PM, Pika was released from “quarantine” after a 10 minute external parasite inspection, and we walked for about 10 minutes back to the main airport facility to collect our luggage.
Pricing for the entire procedure will differ extensively depending on your veterinarian’s fees, and other circumstances. Since the FAVN test is valid up to 36 months (providing the most recent rabies vaccination is valid as well), every subsequent travel to Hawaii with your dog should be cheaper. For informational purposes, here is our breakdown of prices:
$250 – Blood draw and FAVN test
$185 – AQS – 279 form
$160 – Veterinary certificate (including Frontline treatment)
Priceless – The joy of seeing Pika on the beach, chasing the waves (and seagulls)
Nadia and Pika
This post was written on January 19, 2019. Please check the official Hawaii Dept. of Agriculture website for any changes and updates to their rules. This post is only supposed to serve as a guideline and help, and is in no way intended to replace the official requirements of the State of Hawaii.