Be Prepared for Agricultural Inspection In Hawaii’s Airports

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We’ve already reviewed the agricultural form that’s required as you arrive in Hawaii, but what happens when you leave the islands? The process for checking luggage at the airports in Hawaii is a bit different than on the mainland. All mainland bound passengers must have their luggage inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The purpose of the agricultural inspection is to prevent the spread of fruit flies and other hazardous plant insects and diseases. Here’s what you need to know to be prepared for the agricultural inspection at the airport for flights to the mainland. (Note that this process in not required for inter-island flights.)

1. For the luggage you’ll be checking, you must have your luggage pass agricultural inspection before you check in with your airline.

  • Locate the U.S. Agricultural Inspection Station by looking for signs that are located near the airline check-in desks.
  • Place the luggage that you will be checking-in on the conveyor belt for inspection. Note that your carry-on items are not to be inspected here. They will be inspected later in the process.
  • Declare any agricultural items to the inspection officers.
  • After inspection, the officers will place a sticker on your luggage to indicate that your luggage has been checked and cleared.
  • You may now check in at the airline counter.

2Your carry-on baggage will be checked after the TSA security check and before you go to your gate.

  • After you have cleared TSA security, you’ll find a U.S. Agricultural Inspection Station just before you arrive at the gate area.
  • You must place all your carry-on items onto the conveyor belt for agricultural inspection.
  • After your hand luggage clears inspection, you are free to take it onto the gate.

The processes are fairly simple, but just a bit out of the normal routine on the mainland.

The following video provides and overview of the process:

For more resources:

  • See the USDA website which lists what is and isn’t allowed. 
  • For further information, call the U.S. Department of Agriculture at 808- 861-8490
12 comments
  1. I don’t see what people are so worried about, would you really want a foreign species of fruit flies in your house? The local ones are bad enough, I’m all for the new inspections.

  2. One thing to remember–
    Even if inspectors ask you to step away while they inspect your carry-on luggage, do not do this or you may not see your precious items again. Trying to retrieve them is a process you will not want to go through and no guarantee results will be successful. The process will be an eye opener, I assure you. Do not take your eyes off your belongings while inspections are underway no matter what.

    1. That is untrue and unreasonable! All first time comments go into moderation initially to prevent a multitude of spam. When a first time commenter submits their comment a message appears that indicates that the comment is in moderation.

      I manage this site alone. I don’t have a staff of people to monitor the site around the clock for me. Your original comment was submitted at 1:47am my time. I was sleeping during this time.

  3. On Thursday, November 15th about 2PM I was accosted by an agricultural agent as I attempted to check-in at the Alaska Airlines counter.
    As my wife and I were approaching the Alaska ticket counter we heard someone yell, “You have to go through here first!” We saw no sign concerning an Agricultural Inspection. I was aware of the Agricultural Inspection law when leaving Hawaii since my family lived in Kailua for about 25 years and I have traveled to and from Oahu 20-25 times. My wife placed her bag on the ramp and walked to the other side of the x-ray machine to await her bag. As I approached the bag ramp, my bag slipped from my hand about two feet from the ramp. It landed squarely on the ramp. One of the inspectors immediately jumped to his feet and with his face one inch from mine yelled, “DO NOT THROW BAGS”! I was so startled I thought he was going to hit me. In fact, I said, “Are you going to hit me”? He then told me to pick up my bag and replace it on the ramp. I did so. He said it was the wrong way on the ramp. I turned it around and replaced once again on the ramp. Then I placed my second bag on the ramp.
    I was so startled by his behavior I didn’t think to take his picture with my phone and to get his badge number. I was intent on my wife and I catching our 3:40PM Alaska flight.
    In all my trips through Agricultural Inspections stations in Oahu and Maui I have never experienced such outlandish behavior. It certainly was not Aloha by any stretch.
    By way of this comment I would like to file a formal complaint against this agent. If for no other reason than to prevent his accosting another traveler.
    Please advise where I can mail my formal complaint.
    Thank you in advance for your help in preventing this type of behavior in the future.

    1. We are not affiliated with the agricultural department. As fellow Hawaii travelers we are only helping other travelers be prepared.

  4. Do they ask for ID or anything? Or are they just looking through your bags to find if youre taking fruits/flowers/vegies with you? Also, can someone bring their herbal supplements in and our of Hawaii without any problem at these check points? I take an herbal supplement which comes capsulized with about 100 capsules in a bag. Should i have an issue bring this item into and out of hawaii?

    1. We have never been asked for identification at the agricultural inspection stations. Also, we’ve never had any issues with supplements.

  5. Flew out of Lihue on 7/31 and had a weird experience at Ag Inspection there. Took our checked bags to the station and after they went through the machine, the guy asked if we had any cash. He says they work for tips. My husband gave him a $5 bill, but it seemed odd. This has never happened before in HI. Is this a new practice or a scam?

    1. Very odd, never heard of that happening. Ag inspectors are paid by the government and should not be asking for tips.

  6. Do they only check your bags on the way out of Hawaii? Or do they do and agricultural inspection on the way in as well? I know you fill out a pamphlet and have to declare Anything that is on the banned list but do they actually search you on the way and as well?

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