Moving to Hawaii: To Ship or Not To Ship…

by Amy Anne

We moved across the ocean to an island, Oahu in particular. This was not a decision we took lightly and there were so many decisions we had to make and planning and ugh. Moving is stressful no matter how much stuff you own or how far you’re moving. Throw your confused and worried fur babies in the mix and the collective anxiety shoots through the roof! We have 1 large dog and 3 large cats. Moving was difficult on everyone. My main advice is to be 100% certain that you want to move because it’s a time commitment and it’s expensive, but I wanted to write this post so I can possibly help someone if they need to move with pets and the question of the universe to ship or not to ship – the best planning tool is to have all the information up front. 

Here’s what you need to know for moving with pets:

  • Hawaii is a rabies free state and they aim to keep it that way.
  • Hawaii has strict Department of Agriculture laws so go here and make SURE your pet is able to be imported (Age, vaccinations, health, breeds, etc). 
  • Not all animals are able to fly – make sure your pet can get to the island (this may entail calling multiple airlines to see who has room on the flights, seasons available, and breed restrictions). 
  • Veterinarians are not going to guide you through this process – the liability is too great. Some vets will help greatly and some will make you dance and answer riddles to get the required tests and documentation. We’ve had great and bad experiences in the past. You have to make sure you are on top of all dates and keep your records organized on your own. 
  • For your sanity, the State of Hawaii Department of Agriculture has created a checklist with the different options for importing pets to the islands. The quarantine facility is outdoor cages here on Oahu so please opt for the 5 day or less program or the direct airport release program. I would suggest printing this checklist out and keeping track with as many notes as possible with dates, vet websites and info, and any other pertinent information. MAKE COPIES. 

Airplane Tickets

We did our research and called around to the big airlines. Hawaiian was the best bet by far and the easiest to work with. They have climate controlled luggage compartment so your pets are mostly always allowed to travel (no weather/time of year blackouts), which is very important. You can book directly with them by calling – they will do it all for you book and tell you the price right on the phone. Call 1-877-HA-CARGO (422-2746) taken from their website.

In order to ship an animal you must strictly adhere to the shipping guidelines.

In order to book their ticket you will need all of the animal’s physical information, breed, weight, size of carrier because they are cargo at this point. You will need a carrier that is the correct size for your pet with food and water containers (I recommend freezing water in the container for your pet to sip on as they travel). You must check the pet in about 3 hours before the scheduled departure time. You will need the Health Certificate from the animal’s vet within a certain time frame, usually 10 days prior to flight and within 14 days of arrival to Hawaii. the vet must administer a topical flea and tick treatment within those days and sign off on the health certificate. The animal must have all of their documentation in an envelope or folder attached to their carrier. 

To Ship or Not to Ship?

We had a three bedroom 1800 square foot house with an even bigger backyard and had to make the decision to leave it all and start over from zero or to pack it all up and ship it. And with each option came a lot of steps to complete! 

PROs of Shipping

  • You get to keep all your stuff = no starting over
  • You don’t have to go through the trouble of trying to sell your stuff
  • Movers come pick up all your stuff

CONs of Shipping

  • The cost is higher usually than replacing items
  • Packing up all of your items
  • Coordinating pickups and finding a place to live in time to deliver

Option 1: Ship it Real Good

Household Stuff:

Even with shipping, we would have to get rid of a lot of our stuff. Especially the cheap stuff from our poor college days, so that would have been good to rip off the band-aid! 

So we went around the house and took stock of what we would ship, which we then were able to estimate a rough cubic footage. This was needed to get quotes from the shipping companies. 

We got a few quotes and the cheapest we found was $2000 flat rate up to 100 cubic feet and 700 pounds with $7-10 per additional cubic foot. There was a flat $200 pickup/fuel charge. Most offer free storage for 30 days after arrival (to find a place to live and put your stuff). Additional protection insurance is always offered for an additional charge.

The quotes will be different for your cubic footage, weight, and the different shape of items needed to ship. 

Shipping the Car:

We went through Pasha for shipping our car which was about $1500 to ship and only took a couple weeks to get back! I have went through Matson before and even though the price was about the same, I really liked the speed (Matson took about a month!) and the customer service with Pasha. 

Getting the Car Registered:

In order to register or transfer a registration, your care must take your vehicle to a safety inspection station – you will fail, but it is expected. You will pay initially for the failing grade (make sure you fail due to non-registration only), then you will return after getting the registration from the DMV. 

DMV make an appointment or walk in, but make sure your DMV is the correct station as some only do driver’s licenses and some only do registration – take picture of your barcode in your doorjamb in case they need the safety statement from the manufacturer. 

You must have State of Hawaii issued car insurance as well. 

Safety inspection – get tag holder or else they’ll put it on your paint to the right of the license plate. You will not have to pay for the second visit. Make sure your safety inspection spot is certified. 

Option 2: Let it Go

PROs of Starting Over

  • New place probably means a new style or theme of decor
  • In HI you’re most likely downsizing so you can get smaller items
  • Easier to coordinate the move 

CONs of Starting Over

  • Cost of furniture in Hawaii is higher
  • You might miss certain things you once had collected
  • You might find things are hard to replace

Go do the KonMari method and get rid of it all (if it doesn’t spark joy and stuff). We opted to get rid of everything. It was really difficult to decide and we still shipped a few boxes and one sentimental piece of furniture, but we went through USPS and got the best price of all the carriers available. In total, we shipped a few boxes of books, documents, clothes, and a bookshelf that my grandmother left me (books were special to her and to me as well). We spent less than $200 on around 6 boxes with USPS. 

I was selling my house and my realtor wanted to buy the bulk of my furniture as she was starting her own home staging business – this was really lucky, but I had no idea that was an option! If you’re looking to declutter or redecorate or get rid of everything to start over by moving to Hawaii, then seek out realtors or staging businesses as they are always looking for new inventory. 

The next option is Craigslist / Facebook marketplace and then having a garage sale. Last step is to donate it all – whatever doesn’t sell, just donate it to your favorite thrift store or charity. If you have the funds and don’t need the hassle, I would suggest just skipping straight to the donate portion. I needed all the funds I could scrap up so I had to give it my best shot before donating. 

Checking boxes as luggage:

We flew to Oahu and had a vacation before I started work. We each checked a suitcase and a medium home depot box each. This was my first lesson in using enough tape. Those boxes came back in pieces with clothes hanging out the burst sides and everything! Tape it all up or just get some more suitcases to use. 

Tips for USPS shipping:

Use the media rate boxes – there’s special rates for shipping books, movies, magazines etc. 

Choose the longest shipping duration – it seems to be the cheapest price, but they will let you know. 

** Make a Google Drive Folder of all your important travel and shipping documents so you have access to them on the go. 

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