Hawaii dog

We’ll be stopping in Hawaii for a week when we PCS back to the States this fall, which promises to be a lot of fun for us but maybe not too much fun for our dog, Sky. Initially, we were told she would have to go into quarantine, probably the whole time we’re there. This, thankfully, is not true.

Hawaii is rabies-free, and has very strict import rules. However, this beautiful place also has several options for pet owners. They spell it out in great detail on the state website.

We know that Sky just won’t do well in quarantine (she is, like her mom, a bit of a stress monkey.) So, we just completed the tricky process of qualifying her for Hawaii’s Direct Airport Release option. Since most of the anxiety and frustration I endured throughout this process was from misinformation, I thought I’d better share the truth with our OkinawaHai folks. Here it is, step by step:

1.   Read through Hawaii’s animal import website carefully, so you know what you’re getting into.

2.   Be sure your pet’s rabies vaccination is up to date!!

3.   Determine when you need to have the blood sample shipped in order for the lab to receive it at least 121 days before you will arrive in Hawaii. To avoid actually counting days on a calendar (which is mind-numbing, trust me), simply use’s Date Duration tool, found here.

4.   Give yourself as much time as you possibly can. I spent about a week(!!) running back & forth across the island in pursuit of this goal, and we will just make our 121-day window.

5.   Make an appointment to have your pet’s blood drawn (as early in the morning as you can get), and make sure to have all your paperwork filled out and with you. I had Sky’s done at Animal Hospital 22 and they were sweethearts about it. The translator was a huge help!  (Kadena Vet will draw the blood, but the shipping & running around is still on you.)

6.   A couple of days BEFORE the vet appointment, do your shipment preparation. This will include:

a.   Picking up an International Waybill from FedEx (POC there is Ronnie. They have other employees, but Ronnie is the man with the good information. He’s also super-peaceful — which helped a lot because, of course, I wasn’t.)

b.    Picking up an info pack from Kadena Vet (some of the info in it is wrong, but the pack contains several forms you need.)

c.   Getting a USFJ Form 380EJ from the Customs office on Camp Foster (located in the PMO building.)

**Note** The guy at Customs did the 380EJ for me, no problem. However, there is a dispute between Customs and TMO as to which office is in charge of this. I would start with the Customs guy ~ he was much nicer about it. Also, keep in mind that your 380EJ is good for 10 days only.

d.   Getting your box ready. It needs to be small enough to fit into the FedEx “clinic bag,” yet still big enough fit the sample, an ice pack, and the Request For Testing Form.  I bought the smallest shipping box I could find at the Kadena BX, and it just fit.  Ronnie had to crush the box corners down on the counter to get it to fit. But, the sample & everything also just fit into the box.

**Note** You can also send the sample to the lab at Kansas State University, but the cost is $15 higher (as of this writing.) Hawaii accepts lab results from these two labs only, though!! If the sample is processed at a different lab, it still has to be sent to KSU or the Army lab. Full instructions for KSU can be found on their website.

e.   Making sure you have plenty of money to shell out for shipping. With the size of the box and the yen rate as bad as it is, we paid just shy of $140 for shipping alone. Um, ouch. It’s worth it to us, but sheesh!

7.   Don’t feed your pet for 12 hrs before the blood draw is done. The sample has to be clear, and if your pet eats it will be all cloudy.

8.   IF you can get to your vet, get the blood drawn, get your pet home, get the sample boxed up with a freshly frozen ice pack, and get to FedEx with plenty of money before 1100, you’re in business. Go for it, and I say rock on. If you can’t, don’t worry. You can refrigerate the sample overnight and peacefully arrive at FedEx when they open the next day. But here’s the kicker: samples cannot be shipped out on Fridays, since surely no one will be in the Army lab on a Saturday to receive them. So, I strongly suggest double-checking the truck schedule with Ronnie, and shipping the sample as early in the week as is feasible for you.

9.   Make sure you have everything in the box before sealing it up at FedEx: sample, ice pack, request form, and check for the testing fee.

10.  About 2-3 weeks after the sample is received, the lab will send the results to the submitting veterinarian’s office. So keep checking back with them until they say you’re good to go, and you can happily say, “Mahalo!”

(For additional info on getting your pets off island, see Barbara’s post HERE.)


  1. i have a question I understand that Hawaii is rabies free but so is Okinawa, if you already did all at the FAVN tests required prior to arriving in Okinawa 3 years ago why would you have to do it all over again to go to Hawaii ?

  2. I’m going to post this on ever PCSing with pets post I can find on here. My husband an are will by flying commercially possibly. The guy at DTMO was telling us that there is no way that we can bring out 2 cats with us if we fly over to okinawa from camp pendleton on a commercial flight (American, Delta) because our connecting flight from Narita would be a Japanese commercial airline and they won’t accept out pets on the plan because of this dumb “fly America Act” How does that make sense? If we are spending our money on the cats tickets and it is not on the “federal governments dime” why would they not accept them because of this act that only apply to government travel? Does this make sense? It’s really hard to explain this when writing. PLEASE HELP

    • Tasha, it’s been three years since we’ve moved here, but I will say that you will not find the same answer about bringing pets here and most “official” people you talk to will suggest you cannot bring them here. I looked up the Fly America Act and it is old (1990). There are plenty of people moving on and off the island who have brought or taken away pets using commercial flights. You will most likely use ANA (part of United) to get from Mainland to Okinawa. The other carrier you may take is Japan Airlines. Most everyone is on the ANA flight though. I would look on their site to find what the rules are for traveling with pets (there are lots of pets traveling on that ANA flight coming to the island). You’ll want to do all the research for yourself though so all you’re ducks are in a row. Hope that helps a little.

      • Thank you it did help. I asked the guy at *DMO (My husband corrected me on my DTMO lol) if this act was recent and he said yes. 1990 is not recent LOL. I plan to call American and Delta airlines to see what info they can give me as well as whatever out connecting flight will be from mainland. Thank you for replying. 🙂

  3. Yeah – about the fedex thing…I was not impressed with fedex when we “overnighted” my DH’s uniform for my father’s funeral…it took over four days and we had to go digging through the shipping facility at the local airport…because of this, I’m a bit distrustful of anything that promises “overnight” from here…and we paid $375. Grrr…just so folks know, it’s a definite possibility – the “overnight” is not “for sure”

  4. Beth,

    I’m thinking about accepting orders to Okinawa, but am concerned about my 75lb Weimaraner and the availability of off base housing. Looks like Sky is a Weim and you might have some experience with my concern. If you get a chance can you shoot me an email? Thanks Dan

  5. Oops, forgot to mention that in order to do the release from the airport plan, you also need to send the originals of the last two rabies certs, a money order/cashier’s check for 165 dollars and the importation form to the Agriculture Department in Hawaii more than 14 days before arrival…you must then make sure you have the original health cert with you when you arrive. You need to arrive during business hours (not after 3pm) to clear quarantine the same day. The Hawaii website has a great checklist you can use to make sure you get everything done you need to do prior to arrival.

  6. I recently did this for our PCS to Hawaii for my cat. You can actually keep the sample refridgerated at home for 3 weeks if necessary (which it was for me as I found the smallest container to ship it in and ended up only paying around 75 dollars), and you also can do the customs form on Kadena as well in a building right next to the fire station if you don’t want to run to Foster. Their information is on the sheet the vet will give you as well.

    I was not able to pick up my cat’s sample the same day at Kadena’s vet as the draw was done as it has to be centrifuged overnight so I came back to get it a few days after it was drawn but that was no big deal. We used the Kansas lab with no problems and they send a copy directly to Hawaii (as well as one to the vet on KAB if that is who did your draw) if that is what state is listed on your forms and you can check the status of your sample (like if Hawaii received it and if it passed) by looking up your pet’s microchip number on Hawaii’s import site.

  7. Actually, we’ve had to totally change our travel plans. Due to a family emergency, I now have to PCS before my husband gets home from deployment. *sigh* But, we had good plans for Sky on Oahu, and I’m happy to share.

    I had reservations for her at the Ko’olau Bed & Biscuit (how cute is that), and their website is

    There’s also Pampered Pets, which is here:,_cats,_birds_and_more._Military_discounts_Hawaii.html

    As I said, I dealt with the Bed & Biscuit, and they were super nice.

    🙂 Beth