Moving to Maui with a Service Dog – Red Tape

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Moving to Hawaii with an animal can be an exercise in patience as the following post will show you. David is moving to Maui and taking his dog with him, which he must take, and is trying to find what regulations pertain to him.

I comment below his email…


Aloha –

I’m moving to Maui to retire on October 25th and just finished reading your quite helpful manual about making the move.

I’ll be moving to Hawaii with my little dog — a Brussels Griffon who is also a Service Animal — and I have gotten some mixed signals as to how to go about getting him there.

My Vet took blood for a Titer-Rabies test ($280) which the pooch passed on June 25, meaning he’ll be free to travel to Maui 120 days after that.

I’ve also been told I need to send — at least 30 days in advance of our arrival — a form to the Hawaiian Dept. of Agriculture with notarized copies of our flight info plus copies of his rabies tests, his chip implant number, other immunizations, and a letter of intention from me($145).

I have an appointment with my Vet a week before I leave for Wexley’s final exam, a heart worm test, and another blood test which I gather gets sent to Kansas. I believe I then get some kind of official Health Certificate which I’ll show to the airline and then to the inspector from the Dept of Agriculture who I must arrange to greet me and Wexley in Maui (a final (I hope!) $300).

My confusion is twofold. One: you suggested in your guide that there’s a 30 day quarantine period in Honolulu, which is contrary to what my Vet told me, and Two: my confusion is further clouded by the form from the Hawaii office I need to fill out which talks about unexplained options such as 5-day inspections, immediate island releases, and 120 day quarantines.

I’m very dependent upon my little dog and don’t want to be blind-sided by any rules, tests or fees which haven’t yet been made clear to me prior to my arrival.

Therefore, I should be most grateful if you could be kind enough to point me in the right direction as to what is required to correctly get him there and what I might expect?




Hi David,

Thanks for taking the time to write that up. People wanting to bring their pets to Hawaii can be overwhelmed with the bureacracy of it all. You showed how hard it can be for someone that must bring their dog over. It isn’t an option, you have to go through all this before you can move. I feel for you – really!

I would say that you cannot rely on a static information source to provide you with the latest (updated) information about moving your pets to the Hawaiian islands. In the book, Moving to Hawaii 2012 – I listed the Hawaii Department of Agriculture as the organization to contact if bringing your pet over. I’m sure you’ve done that.

I don’t have any more information for you other than what these official organizations have. I wish I could give you a checklist of things to do – but I think you’re going to have to create that as you go along. If you hear information that contradicts something else you’ve heard – get it clarified, or it could be the source of trouble later on. I’d suggest writing everything down in a notebook so you don’t rely on your memory. I usually rely on my memory, and that doesn’t work so well any more.

You wondered about the 30 day quarantine period. I think there are a number of different quarantine periods that one may have to comply with – depending on individual circumstances. Since yours is a service dog – you probably have different hoops to jump through than someone bringing their pet rabbit, or a horse. I have heard of very short duration time periods – and longer ones around 120 days.

Sorry I cannot be of more help. Personally I never had to move an animal to Hawaii – so I am a bit clueless about the procedure, and relied on what was given at the state agencies when writing the book. Keep in mind that things change constantly when it comes to bringing pets and other animals to Hawaii from the mainland. It has been in flux over the decades I’ve been going to the islands. I think what someone is telling you on the phone is probably the latest and best information, but of course it wouldn’t hurt to take names down of people you talk to as you go through the process.

If you find you have the energy and time for it – I’d love to have a guest post about the process to put here at and also to include in the next update of Moving to Hawaii 2012.

Thanks for your note David, it was good to be able to show how difficult it is to know what the accepted process is to bring animals from overseas to Hawaii. It has always been a struggle, and I don’t suppose it will get better anytime soon!




About the Author:

I’ve lived Hawaii since the mid ‘80s when I moved here at the age of 21. I arrived site-unseen in Honolulu with zero contacts and about $5k in savings. I worked from nearly zero and today Hawaii has given me the greatest gifts in the world in all aspects: spiritually, financially, romantically (married since early ‘90s w/ 2 children), and most important, peace. My goal with this site is to share the magic of this Land of Aloha and help others who are on a similar quest.


  1. Wendy Matta 12/01/2015 at 3:08 pm - Reply

    I’m trying to get my dogs certified to be service dogs and can’t find the information online. No one seems to know how to do this. I hope you can help. If you can email me I would really appreciate it Mahalo

  2. Kelly Heiman 10/17/2012 at 8:19 pm - Reply

    First, let me say stop worrying and don’t stress. My name is Kelly Heiman and I am the Direct Aiport Release Coordinator and owner of West Maui Animal Clinic and Lana’i Animal Clinic.
    I have been assisting pet-owners for over 9 years on the island of Maui, this is my passion, as I have been through the process when it was still mandatory quarantine for Hawaii, talk about “stress”. I am happy to answer all your questions, assist you with your paperwork or hold your hand through the process. I even have a designated phone number, just for questions like this, (808) 446-1521, I am available 7-days a week, from 8:00am to 10pm, please know there is no charge, EVER, to call and receive information.
    My goal is to help pet-owners relax, stop stressing and insure they bring their 4-legged children with them to Maui, NO PET LEFT BEHIND :)….
    I am here to help, if need be. Give me a call – Warmest Aloha, Kelly

    • Vern 10/17/2012 at 8:21 pm - Reply

      Wow, what a great comment. Thanks Kelly!

  3. Amy 08/27/2012 at 6:23 am - Reply

    Hey David,
    My husband and I are planning a move to Hawaii also. We have a dog we will be brining and I have done extensive research on what is required. You need to go to this website, It has all the most updated and relevant rabies information. Six paragraphs down there are two links, one for the “Quarantine Information Brochure” and the second for the “5 day or less checklist”. Print these both out and read them thoroughly. I also suggest taking the checklist to your vet. Continue to check the site on a regular basis as it states the regulations can change at anytime without notice. The 120 day quarentine is required if you don’t meet the 5 day or less requirements. The 5 day or less requirements include what is needed for immediate release. I’m obviously planning on doing the immediate release which I would assume you want as well. It sounds like you’re on the right track with your preparations but my main concern is you mentioned doing the KSU (Kansas) test one week before leaving. This is the test that must be done atleast 120 days before leaving. Double check with your vet that the test you did in June was sent to Kansas otherwise you’re in for another wait. It might not hurt to look for a vet with recent experience with sending pets to Hawaii if yours isn’t sure what to do. Again, the best and most accurate info you can get is on the website. I hope this helps.
    Good luck,

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