Bringing Pets To Hawaii, Step 7: Import Form

Posted Aug 11, 2011 at 8:20pm
Small white dog digs in the sand on a beach.

Filling out the Dog & Cat Import Form brings your pet one step closer to enjoying a new life in Hawaii! (Photo credit: benswing)

Step 1: Prohibited Animals
Step 2: Vaccinations
Step 3: Microchip
Step 4: Blood Test
Step 5: Flight Booking
Step 6: Kennel

Step 7: Import Form

NOTE: If your dog or cat will be coming to Hawaii from Guam, Australia, New Zealand, or the British Isles, you can skip this step completely. (Here is a complete list of other requirements for cats and dogs coming from those countries. If your pet is coming from Guam, an additional affadavit must be completed.)

For pets coming from all other countries, choose one:

Guide Dogs & Service Dogs

If your pet is a guide dog or service dog, you do not need to submit an import form. (Here is a complete list of requirements for guide dogs and service dogs.) But you do need to submit these other documents as soon as possible:

  • A rabies vaccination certificate from your veterinarian proving that your dog’s vaccination will still be valid upon arrival in Hawaii. This certificate must include:
    • Product name
    • Lot/serial number
    • Lot’s expiration date
    • Date that the vaccination was administered
    • Route that the vaccination was administered (subcutaneous or intramuscular)
    • The booster interval of the vaccine (e.g., 1-year, 3-year, 4-year)
    • The veterinarian’s original ink signature (no photocopies)
  • Documentation that your dog passed one OIE-FAVN test after 12 months of age, with a level of 0.5 I.U. rabies antibody or greater. (NOTE: A passing test result is valid for three years.)
  • Your pet’s arrival information (airline, flight number, date/time of arrival) and the location where your pet will be staying afterward. If you don’t know this info yet, you can fax it later: (808) 483-7161.
  • Optional: A request for your dog to be inspected in the terminal of Honolulu Airport instead of the quarantine holding facility. (NOTE: Your pet’s arrival time must be between 8am-4pm, and your request must be received at least 7 days before your pet’s arrival.) If your request is granted, you will receive a “Notice of Terminal Inspection” in the mail, which you’ll need to present to an airline representative upon arrival in Hawaii. NOTE: Once you receive your permit in the mail, make a photocopy of it for your records.
  • If your pet is a service dog, you’ll also need to submit 1 of the following:
    • A statement from a doctor certifying that you have a disability that necessitates having a service dog, OR
    • A certificate from your service dog’s training program, which must be accredited by Assistance Dogs International, Inc., or another program “with equally rigorous administrative, operational and training standards.”
  • If you are applying for a neighbor island inspection permit (because you want your pet directly released from Kona, Kahului, or Lihue Airport instead of Honolulu Airport), you’ll also need to submit: 
    • A letter specifying:
      • Which airport you’d like your pet directly released from (Kona, Kahului, or Lihue)
      • Your pet’s flight information (airline, flight number, date/time of arrival)
    • Optional: A prepaid self-addressed envelope from an expedited/overnight mail service (if you want your permit delivered to you faster than via U.S. Postal Service).

    NOTE: Once you receive your permit in the mail, make a photocopy of it for your records.

Once you’ve gathered these documents, skip the next two sections of this post (“All Other Dogs & Cats” and “Getting Your Paperwork In Order”) and follow the directions in the last two sections:

All Other Dogs & Cats

You will need to fill out a Dog & Cat Import Form for each of your pets. Completing the form is pretty straightforward:

  • In Part I, under “DOCUMENTS SUBMITTING,” you should be able to check off the first two boxes indicating that your pet has received both of its required rabies vaccine certificates.
  • If you don’t have your pet’s health certificate yet, leave the “HEALTH CERT.” box blank. (I will discuss the health certificate in Step 8.)
  • Ignore the box that says “HAWAII HEALTH CERT.,” as that pertains only to pets that are from Hawaii and are returning home from a trip outside the state.
  • Under “TYPE OF PROGRAM APPLYING FOR,” check off 1 of the following boxes (if you’ve been following all the steps in this series):
    • “DIRECT AIRPORT RELEASE $165,” or
    • “NEIGHBOR ISLAND INSPECTION PERMIT $145″ (if you are planning to have your pet directly released from Kona Airport, Kahului Airport, or Lihue Airport instead of Honolulu Airport)
  • Unless you know your pet will need to be quarantined for some reason, you can leave Part V (AUTHORIZED VISITORS) blank.
  • For Part VI, here’s the list of breed codes and color codes to choose from.
  • If you’re applying for a direct airport release, you can skip Part VII (APPROVED ANIMAL HOSPITAL). However, if you know your pet will need to be quarantined, here’s the list of approved animal hospital codes to choose from.

Getting Your Paperwork In Order

Once you’ve filled out the Dog & Cat Import Form, there are a few more things you’l need to do to get all your paperwork ready for submission:

  • Get a money order or cashier’s check: The Department of Agriculture won’t allow you to pay your fee with a personal check. Pay the full amount due (according to the type of program you’re applying for on the Dog & Cat Import Form) with a money order or cashier’s check made out to “Department of Agriculture.” Write your pet’s microchip number on your payment.
  • Get the Dog & Cat Import Form notarized: At the very end of the Dog & Cat Import Form, there’s a blank line requiring the signature/stamp of a notary public. When you go to get the form notarized, be sure to also bring the two rabies vaccination certificates, the money order or cashier’s check for the amount due, and the health certificate (if you’re sending it before your pet’s arrival). The notary public may want to verify that you have those ready to submit with the form.
  • If you are applying for a neighbor island inspection permit (because you want your pet directly released from Kona, Kahului, or Lihue Airport instead of Honolulu Airport), you’ll also need to submit: 
    • A letter specifying:
      • Which airport you’d like your pet directly released from (Kona, Kahului, or Lihue)
      • Your pet’s flight information (airline, flight number, date/time of arrival)
    • Optional: A prepaid self-addressed envelope from an expedited/overnight mail service (if you want your permit delivered to you faster than via U.S. Postal Service).

    NOTE: Once you receive your permit in the mail, make a photocopy of it for your records.

Submit Paperwork Now Or Later?

At this point, you have to decide whether you are going to:

  • Submit your paperwork now, without the health certificate (and bring the health certificate with you on moving day), OR
  • Submit your paperwork later, with the health certificate included, as soon as you get the health certificate.

If you are applying for a neighbor island inspection permit, then you must submit your paperwork now, without the health certificate. This is because all your paperwork (except for the health certificate) must be received by Hawaii’s Department of Agriculture no later than 30 days before your pet’s arrival in Hawaii. The health certificate, however, cannot be completed by a veterinarian any earlier than 14 days before your pet’s arrival in Hawaii.

If your airline requires that your pet’s health certificate be issued with 10 days of arrival (instead of within 14 days, as required by Hawaii’s Department of Agriculture), then you must submit your paperwork now, without the health certificate. This is because all your paperwork (except for the health certificate) must be received by Hawaii’s Department of Agriculture at least 11 days before your pet’s arrival.

If you don’t fall into either category above, you can choose to submit your paperwork now or later. When I was moving with my two cats, I chose to submit my paperwork later, so I could include the health certificate with the rest of the paperwork. I thought it might expedite the direct release of my cats from the airport if I sent all the necessary paperwork ahead of my arrival. I don’t know if this really made a difference, but it took only 20 minutes or so to get my cats released to me, which was a lot faster than I was anticipating.

If you decide to submit your paperwork later, you must get the timing just right:

  • You must bring your pet to the veterinarian to get the health certificate exactly 12-13 days before your pet’s arrival in Hawaii. This is because the Department of Agriculture requires that the health certificate be issued within 14 days of arrival. (I wasn’t sure if “14 days before” was technically the same as “within 14 days,” so I did it 13 days before, just to be safe.)
  • As soon as you get the health certificate, you must immediately make photocopies of all your paperwork for your records, and then mail all the original paperwork using an overnight mail service that gives you a tracking number or some other proof of the date and time of delivery (I used FedEx). The reason why you need to hurry up and mail everything right after getting the health certificate is because all your paperwork (except for the health certificate) must be received by Hawaii’s Department of Agriculture at least 11 days before your pet’s arrival.

If all of that sounds too nerve-wracking and expensive (and looking back now, it does seem that way to me!), just submit your paperwork now (without the health certificate) and bring the health certificate with you on moving day.

Submitting Your Paperwork

When you’re ready to submit your paperwork (with or without the health certificate) to Hawaii’s Department of Agriculture following the instructions below. (NOTE: If you have a a guide dog or service dog, you may fax your paperwork instead of mailing it, if you wish: 808-483-7161.)

  1. Make photocopies of all your paperwork: This will be for your records, in case your paperwork mysteriously vanishes en route to the Department of Agriculture (or after its arrival).
  2. Make sure you have all the required documents for each of your pets:
    • Original notarized Dog & Cat Import Form
    • Two original rabies vaccination certificates, each with veterinarian’s ink signature (no photocopies)
    • Money order or cashier’s check
    • Original health certificate (no photocopies), if you’re sending it before your pet’s arrival
  3. Mail all your paperwork together in one big envelope: Use a mail service that provides proof of delivery, including the date and time. Use an expedited or overnight delivery service, if necessary, to ensure your paperwork arrives on time. Send your paperwork to: Animal Quarantine Station, 99-951 Halawa Valley Street, Aiea, Hawaii 96701

Step 8: Health Certificate
Step 9: Flight Prep
Step 10: Moving Day

For more up-to-date, detailed info on moving to Hawaii, check out my e-book: Moving To Hawaii: A Step-By-Step Guide

Posted in Moving, Pets

Comments

  1. Laurie

    Hey.. where were you when we moved to Oahu in 1998 with two cats!?? We needed this VERY helpful information! I am sure it will be useful to loads of folks.

  2. Maggie

    Hello again: ) I was wondering if more than one cat can travel in the same carrier ? I know we have seen dogs shipped together within the 48 states… We have 2-3 cats who will be coming to Oahu with us and for their comfort/being together and cost I wanted to ship them in one container… Any thoughts? Also, one cat is a ten year old exotic Persian … We will be traveling in June or July of 2012…. Are there any airlines that will allow him to travel that time of year ( short nose)??? Mahalo!!!! Maggie : )

    • Michele Meyer

      Hi, Maggie: According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA):

      - A maximum of two adult animals of comparable size up to 14 kg each, that are used to cohabitation, may be shipped in the same container. Animals over that weight must travel individually.
      - Animals up to six months old from the same litter, up to a maximum quantity of three, may be shipped in the same container/compartment.

      Some airlines haves stricter requirements, though. For example, Hawaiian Airlines and United Airllines allow only one cat or dog over the age of six months in each kennel. So ultimately, it will depend on which airline(s) you use.

      RE: your Persian cat — Luckily, short-nosed cats tend to do better on flights than short-nosed dogs. Continental and United Airlines have restrictions only for short-nosed dogs, so either of those airlines might work for you. Hawaiian Airlines might work too — they require you to sign a release of liability if you have a short-nosed dog or cat. However, Hawaiian Airlines won’t fly any pets to/from certain cities during April 15-Oct. 15, so if you’re thinking of using them, be sure to check if your flight would be affected by their summer embargo.

      If the weather is forecast to exceed 85 degrees (Fahrenheit) at a flight’s origin or destination, the USDA won’t allow any airline to fly with any pets in the baggage/cargo hold. (Some airlines, like Delta, won’t fly short-nosed pets if the weather is forecast to exceed 75 degrees.) For this reason, I would try to book for your flight for June instead of July (or even earlier in the year, if possible), when it’s less likely to reach 85 degrees in Honolulu. (I’m not sure if we hit 85 degrees this July, but I know for certain we did this month [August].) Taking an early morning or evening flight, when temperatures are lower, can help, too.

      Hope that helps!

  3. Suzanne Grundy

    Hi Michele,

    The HI Dept of Ag allowed me to FAX my paperwork to them (instead of mailing the originals). I am bringing my St. Bernard, service dog, Lilly with me on the 31st. I will be hand carrying ALL my original documentation with me, including that all necessary Health Certificate. They told me to fax that to them after I get it on the 19th.

    I did speak with the Animal Quarantine Staff directly on the phone – I called to find out about mailing the paperwork – when they told me to fax it to them. I do not know if this a usual practice, something they do for those with service dogs, or if it is just an unwritten type of thing.

    All I do know, however, is this really simplified the process for me. I have already received my Notice of Terminal Inspection in the mail!

    The staff on the other end of the phone have ALL been wonderful in assisting me through this, sometimes very complicated, procedure. Kudos to everyone in the Animal Quarantine Department!

    Hope this helps,

    Suzanne

    • Michele Meyer

      That’s good to know that faxing (rather than mailing) paperwork may be an option. Thanks for letting us know! (For those interested, email or call the Dept. of Agriculture first to see if it’s OK to fax your paperwork: rabiesfree@hawaii.gov, (808) 483-7151. As Suzanne mentioned above, this might be allowed only for those with guide dogs and service dogs.)

  4. Eric

    Thank you so much for this information. This is a an excellent resource for moving my cat to Hawaii.

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