Aloha, my virtual ohana!!
If you can tell from my greeting, I have been vacationing in Hawaii with my girl! Although I’ve definitely had to work since I’m a Service Dog, I have had my fair share of vacation time with plenty of frolicking in the turquoise waves.
My girl notoriously says that preparing for our trip to Hawaii was more stressful than her fall term finals, and I believe her! We had to do a lot to prepare to make sure that I could come along with her and wouldn’t have to spend the vacation in quarantine. Because traveling to Hawaii is not like traveling with a Service Dog to any other state, I thought I’d provide an overview of how to travel to Hawaii with a Service Dog for anyone else who might find this useful, especially since the requirements for a Service Dog entering Hawaii are slightly different from a pet entering Hawaii. Of course, I am just a dog and am not the definitive authority on Hawaii quarantine protocols. For the most accurate and up-to-date information, you’ll find what you need on the Hawaii Department of Agriculture’s website, and you can email HDOA with any questions you have — and they’re really good at replying super quickly!
Here’s a short list of the paperwork you’ll need:
- Current rabies vaccination more than 90 days before arrival (send this information to Hawaii ahead of time)
- Pass the OIE-FAVN rabies test 120 days before arrival (send this information to Hawaii ahead of time)
- Flight and location information (send this information to Hawaii ahead of time)
- List of tasks that your Service Dog has been trained to perform for you
- Health certificate given within 30 days of arrival (take this with you to Hawaii)
- Treatment with an approved product designed to kill ticks within 14 days of arrival (take this with you to Hawaii)
Although HDOA accepts documents through snail mail, I would recommend faxing them the necessary documents so that you don’t run the risk of the documents getting lost in the mail or taking longer to arrive than intended (my girl once sent her older sister a card in middle school that didn’t arrive until high school). Anything that you need to send ahead of time can be faxed to HDOA at 1-808-483-7161 using any number of free online fax resources, including MyFax, GotFreeFax, or FaxZero (all of these were recommended by HDOA, and none of these require the sender to have a physical fax machine, just an email address). However, for all the documentation that you need to fax ahead of time, I highly recommend that you bring a physical copy with you as well because you can never be too prepared!
Four Months before Arrival
More than 120 days before your arrival, have your vet perform an OIE-FAVN test, run by Kansas State University. KSU must have received your dog’s blood sample at least 120 days before your arrival. Your dog will need a microchip in order to process the blood sample and must be at least 12 months old for the test to be run. Results needs to be greater than or equal to 0.5 IU/mL in order for your dog to be released in Hawaii. The good news is that once you take this test, the results are valid for three years! (so if you want to plan another trip to Hawaii in the next 36 months…) Although the results should be sent directly from KSU to Hawaii, a copy should also be sent to your vet, so I highly recommend getting a copy of the results from your vet to send to HDOA if you ask and find out that they have not received it, and also just to have on hand at the airport because it never hurts to have too many copies of all the necessary documents!
Three Months before Arrival
More than 90 days before your arrival should be the date of your dog’s most recent rabies shot. Rabies shots are usually good for a few years, so this may not be an issue for you, unless your dog received an annual shot for their last vaccination. However, if your dog’s rabies shot is nearing its expiration date, I highly recommend getting the shot done more than 90 days in advance of your arrival in Hawaii. The state of Hawaii has never had an incident of rabies, so HDOA is very strict about rabies protocol for animals entering the state. Having more protection, then, is definitely a good way to play it safe!
Two Weeks before Arrival
Within 14 days of your arrival, you should have an appointment with your vet so that they can give your dog a health certificate and treat your dog with a product containing Fipronil. The certificate must be issued not more than 30 days of your arrival, and it must state that your dog was treated with a product containing Fipronil or a similar product labeled to kill ticks (I take Bravecto every three months to kill ticks and fleas, and a dose of Bravecto within 14 days of arrival is sufficient to meet this requirement). Ask your vet to double-check that the product that your dog is being given contains Fipronil. Your dog’s rabies information, including vaccine name, lot/serial number, expiration date, vaccination date, and booster interval, must be included on the certificate. A valid health certificate is required for each entry into Hawaii. And just a note, if your Service Dog does not pass the health certificate, then you might have bigger problems than just not being able travel to Hawaii since you’re working a sick dog. You can fax the health certificate beforehand if you would like (my girl and I did, just to be safe), but you can also bring it with you physically to Hawaii.
One Week before Arrival
This is not required, but 7 days or more before your arrival, feel free to call the Rabies Quarantine Branch to have them meet you in the terminal and have your process go more quickly, as long as you’re arriving between 8 am and 4 pm. My girl and I arrived at 9 pm, so we did not do this option. However, a faster process is definitely helpful!
One Day before Arrival
At least 24 hours before your arrival, send the Rabies Quarantine Branch information regarding your flights and where you will be staying in Hawaii. This information can be faxed.
Day of Travel and Arrival
Your Service Dog must be traveling with you (the disabled handler) upon arrival in Hawaii. When you arrive, you must bring your dog to the Airport Animal Quarantine Holding Facility, where your documents will be verified and your dog will be examined for external parasites. After you’re approved, you’re free to go and start your vacation! And once in Hawaii, a handler with a Service Dog has the same rights as in any other state, thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Since this all requires a lot of planning in advance, I highly recommend mapping out your timeline about six months before your trip so that you make sure you can check off everything on your list and do everything correctly. Leaving plans until the last minute will only make the process more stressful! Communication with HDOA will make the entire process go more smoothly. When I stopped by the quarantine facility at the airport, my examination and verification process took not more than ten minutes because all the paperwork had been completed and sent to HDOA ahead of time. It was quick and painless! (although I was convinced that I was at the vet and acted very sheepish, whoops!)
Best of luck on your adventures!
Service Dog team etiquette (particularly apropos after this post!)
Don’t distract Service Dogs
Confused? See my terms and abbreviations