Hawaii is a rabies-free state and wants to remain that way. If you’re moving to Hawaii with pets, this means you’re going to have to take several steps to prepare them for entrance into the state. If you arrive in Hawaii without the necessary documentation proving your pets don’t have rabies, they will be quarantined for up to four months, at your expense.
Harsh? Yes. But if you carefully read the requirements outlined by Hawaii’s Department of Agriculture and make the necessary preparations, you’ll be able to pick up your pets from the airport quarantine station right after getting your luggage at baggage claim, and you can take them home immediately.
Besides the Department of Agriculture requirements, you also need to take into consideration requirements that airlines have regarding pets. Careful preparation and planning is necessary for your pets’ flight to Hawaii, as well.
There are a lot of steps to make sure you get right during the 6-12 months before your pets move to Hawaii, and certain steps are more time-sensitive than others. So I’ve taken all the requirements of the Department of Agriculture and major airlines that fly to Hawaii, and have created a prioritized list of actions steps to meet all those requirements. This series of posts will guide you through each of those action steps, and point out any critical details that need careful attention. If you follow these steps exactly, in the order given, you and your pets should get through baggage check-in and the quarantine station without any problem.
Step 1: Is Your Pet Legal To Own In Hawaii?
Before you do anything, first make sure you’re allowed to bring your pet into Hawaii at all. Download the Dept. of Agriculture’s full list of conditionally approved animals to make sure your pet is listed. Here are some (but not all) of the animals that are legal to bring to or own in Hawaii:
- All domesticated dogs (no hybrids, like a wolf-dog crossbreed)
- All domesticated cats (no hybrids, like a Bengal or Savannah)
- All domesticated rabbits
- All domesticated swine (like a pot-bellied pig)
- All domesticated horses
- All domesticated mice & rats
- All guinea pigs
- All chinchillas
- Some birds, including (but not limited to) canaries, budgerigars, lovebirds, cockatiels, and certain types of finches, parrots, and parakeets
- Some salamanders
- Some newts
- Some frogs
- Some turtles & tortoises
- Some fishes
- Some invertebrates (certain types of crabs, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, etc.)
And here are some of the animals found on the Dept. of Agriculture’s full list of prohibited animals, which are illegal to bring to or own in Hawaii:
- All undomesticated dogs (like dingoes) or hybrids (like a wolf-dog crossbreed)
- All undomesticated cats or bybrids (like Bengals and Savannahs)
- All undomesticated rabbits (like wild hares)
- All undomesticated swine (like wild boars)
- All undomesticated horses (like wild mustangs)
- All undomesticated mice & rats (like voles and lemmings)
- All ferrets
- All gerbils
- All hamsters
- All sugar gliders
- All flying foxes
- All squirrels
- All snakes
- Some birds, including (but not limited to) toucans and certain types of finches, parrots, and parakeets
- Some lizards, including (but not limited to) geckos, bearded dragon lizards, and gila monsters
- Some salamanders
- Some newts
- Some frogs, including (but not limited to) poison-dart frogs and Cuban treefrogs
- Some turtles & tortoises, including (but not limited to) snapping turtles
- Some fishes, including (but not limited to) piranhas and lion fishes
- Some invertebrates, including (but not limited to) hermit crabs and jellyfishes
For certain animals, the rules can get complicated: Some are legal only for research and exhibition, while others are legal for “personal and commercial use.” (I’m not sure how “personal use” differs from pet ownership). If you have any questions or want to be absolutely sure of your pet’s legal status, call the Plant Quarantine branch of Hawaii’s Dept. of Agriculture at (808) 832-0566 or (808) 837-8413.