Clearing into the USA West Coast with Animals on board

If arriving with animals aboard as we did, (1 x dog, 2 x cats), then the only place to clear in if you are coming from the west side of the USA is Hilo, Hawaii.

There are a number of reasons that I say this, but one of the main reasons is that Hilo does not have a quarantine centre so your animals are allowed to stay bonded on your vessel, if, and only if, you have qualified for the 5-day pre-approved quarantine program. Another reason to clear in via Hilo is, not only is it a great place, but the Customs and Boarder Protection and quarantine folks are superb.

Published 6 years ago, updated 5 years ago


 I am pleased to report on arrival into the USA the customs clearance process was without doubt the most amazing experience ever.  The chap from the US Customs and Border Protection service was simply the nicest and most charming man I think I have ever met.  The process was all done and dusted in under an hour and he was grateful for the multiple email alerts I had sent him previously together with the tomes of information i.e medical kits contents, crew list and even the link to which he followed to check our arrival date via our live tracker.  His name was Bill Foss and was honestly a really nice guy.

 My advice is to call/email Bill often to keep him posted on your arrival and if you follow these simple rules then you will not have any problems.

 Bill Foss’ contact details below.

 CBPO William C. Foss, Jr. (Bill)
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
Field Operations – Port of Hilo
29 Kuhio Street, Hilo, HI 96720

 E-mail: [email protected]

Phone: (808) 933-6975 / Fax: (808) 933-6976

 NOTE: Bill will also issue you with a cruising permit.

 Once cleared we raised our American courtesy flag and all breathed a combined sigh of relief!  Did we really travel from Sydney to America in under two months?  We sure did!


 Now for the complicated part, clearing in with your animals!  Attached is the PDF document, which outlines the steps required for completion to gain pre-approval to the 5-day quarantine program. It is a nightmare and this form requires complete adherence to the process or you will not gain pre-approval.  Personally, I spent about 50 hours on complying with the process and another $5,000 (remember we have three animals) with rabies tests, vet visits before arriving etc.

 The good news is that there is a short cut.  The short cut is to speak to Dr Kim Kozuma who is the Deputy State Veterinarian and was only too happy to take my multiple calls and emails.  This lady is so helpful it’s almost embarrassing. She will go through the steps in plain English and make sure you are loaded onto the database and that all is done pre your arrival.

 Her details are below:

 Kim Kozuma, DVM
Deputy State Veterinarian
Animal Disease Control Branch
Hawaii Department of Agriculture
75 Aupuni Street
Hilo, HI 96720

Phone: 808.933.3307, VM: 808.974.6503

E-mail: [email protected]

 Another part of the process on arrival is to have a local vet come and issue a health certificate for the animals – we used the only vet authorised to do this in Hilo, Dr Skip Pease.  Again Dr Pease was charming and only too happy to assist.

 Dr Skip Pease can be emailed on [email protected]

 While Skip was with us, he mentioned that the Animal Disease Control Branch with the Hawaii Department of Agriculture had in fact given him all the paperwork to complete for the animals arrival into the USA and within a few hours of his departure Dr Kozuma emailed me to tell me that all of our animals had all been approved for immediate release.

 More information on animal clearance here:

 AQS Hawaii

Animal Quarantine Information Page

 Is clearing animals into the USA a complex matter?

 Yes, but with a little planning and the contact details above, then anyone can do it with a little focus and attention to detail.  Failure to adhere to the rules will result in your pets spending a long stretch in quarantine in Oahu and more expense.

James Ellingford

MY Pendana

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