Traveling internationally with pets from Hawaii

Traveling Internationally with your dog or cat from Hawaii? Let us help you!

Traveling internationally with your pets can be very stressful, especially when you consider complicated requirements different countries impose on pet travel. Aina Haina Veterinary Clinic has experienced veterinarians who have assisted several dozens of pet owners take their loved ones internationally. The list of countries our nationally accredited veterinarians assisted with international pet travel includes:

  • Japan
  • Republic of Korea
  • Spain
  • Germany
  • Ireland
  • Saint Kitts
  • Philippines
  • Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
  • And the list keeps growing!

Because each country significantly varies in terms of their requirements and timeline (ranging from 40 day to 3 months process), please contact us as soon as you know so we can best assist you!

Call us at (808) 453-5000 now to book an appointment to get started. Below are general guidelines for international travel.

What is typically required for international travel?

A lot of paperwork! Some of which includes:

  • Import permit issued by importing country (if required)
  • Vaccine certificates (if required)
  • Laboratory testing results (if required)
  • Health certificates issued by our veterinarian, which will have to be endorsed by USDA veterinarian (ALWAYS required for international travel)

Please note, it is generally the owner’s responsibility to prepare, apply, and maintain the paperwork required for international travel (except health certificates, which will have to be issued at a veterinary clinic). Some pet owners use a pet relocation service to help prepare necessary documents. USDA has a great website that can help you understand what kind of paperwork is required by each country. We highly encourage every pet owner thinking of international travel to look at the requirements prior.

What are the special considerations for pets traveling from Hawaii?

Within the United States, Hawaii is the only state that is considered rabies-free. This means that your dog or cat may be exempt from some of the vaccination/testing requirements for the other rabies-free countries (such as Japan), which makes travel planning a lot easier!

However, the flip side of this is that we DO NOT routinely vaccinate dogs and cats with rabies vaccine within the state. In fact, this is one of the most common problems we encounter for pets traveling internationally from Hawaii. Many countries that are not rabies free (such as European countries) require a certain waiting period after the initial rabies vaccine to make sure the dog or cat is protected against this disease by the time they arrive. If pet owners assume their pets are vaccinated for rabies even though they weren’t, there could be some delay in submission of paperwork, and in some occasions they may have to postpone their trip or have to travel without their pets.

Safety Tips (Taken From

Book a direct flight whenever possible. This will decrease the chances that your pet is left on the tarmac during extreme weather conditions or mishandled by baggage personnel during a layover.
Make an appointment with your pet’s veterinarian for a checkup. Prior to your trip, make sure your pet’s vaccinations are up-to-date and obtain a health certificate from your veterinarian dated within 10 days of your departure. Tranquilizing your pet is generally not recommended as it could hamper his or her breathing, so use this time to check with your veterinarian for ways to relax your pet if you suspect he or she may become afraid, anxious or uncomfortable mid-flight. For travel outside of the continental United States, additional planning and health care requirements may be necessary. Contact the foreign office of the country you are traveling to for more information.
Purchase a USDA-approved shipping crate. The crate should be large enough for your pet to stand, sit and turn around in comfortably, and lined with some type of bedding—shredded paper or towels—to absorb accidents. Prior to your trip, tape a small pouch of dried food outside the crate so airline personnel will be able to feed your pet in case he or she gets hungry during a layover. The night before you leave, freeze a small dish or tray of water for your pet. This way, it can’t spill during loading and will melt by the time he or she is thirsty. Make sure the crate door is securely closed, but not locked, so that airline personnel can open it in case of an emergency.
Make sure your pet’s crate has proper identification. Mark the crate with the words “Live Animal,” as well as with your name, cell phone and destination phone number, and a photo of your pet. Should your pet escape from the carrier, this could be a lifesaver. You should also carry a photograph of your pet.
Tell every airline employee you encounter—on the ground and in the air—that you are traveling with a pet in the cargo hold. This way, they’ll be ready if any additional considerations or attention is needed. If the plane is delayed, or if you have any concerns about the welfare of your pet, insist that airline personnel check the animal whenever feasible. In certain situations, removing the animal from the cargo hold and deplaning may be warranted.

Call us at (808) 453-5000 now to book an appointment to discuss specific requirements for your destination country (Office visit charge applies)!