Registering Cars In Hawaii

Posted Jan 6, 2012 at 6:03pm

How you register a vehicle in Hawaii depends on whether you ship it from out of state, buy it new from a Hawaii dealership, or buy it used from someone in Hawaii.

If you ship your vehicle to Hawaii…

If you buy a new vehicle in Hawaii…

If you buy a used vehicle in Hawaii…

If you ship your vehicle to Hawaii…

…you must get it registered within 30 days of picking it up from the port in Hawaii.

Here’s how:

  1. Save your shipping receipt (also known as a “bill of lading”) when you pick up your vehicle from the port in Hawaii.
  2. Purchase no-fault insurance (required in Hawaii) for your vehicle.
  3. Take your vehicle and proof of insurance to a Periodic Motor Vehicle Inspection (PMVI) station (usually found at Hawaii gas stations and auto repair shops) for a state-required safety inspection. Here’s a list of PMVI stations on Oahu. Save the certificate they give you.
  4. Locate the motor vehicle registration office for the county that you now live in:
    1. City & County of Honolulu (Oahu) – Dept. of Customer Services or Satellite City Halls.
    2. Maui County (Maui, Molokai, Lana’i) – Motor Vehicle & Licensing office locations
    3. Hawaii County (Big Island) – Vehicle Registration & Licensing office locations
    4. Kauai County (Kauai) -  Motor vehicle registration is handled through the Dept. of Finance, Treasury Division
  5. Choose 1 of these 2 options:
    1. Get a Hawaii Certificate of Registration and Hawaii license plates (the expiration date on your out-of-state Certificate of Registration will be transferred to your Hawaii Certificate of Registration), OR
    2. Get an Out-of-State Permit to operate your vehicle using your out-of-state license plates until your out-of-state Certificate of Registration expires or 12 months elapse, whichever occurs first. (NOTE: The vehicle must have 2 out-of-state license plates and be registered in your name in order to get an Out-of-State Permit.)

      Hawaii license plate that reads "NRD 793"

      (Photo credit: Bryan Rosengrant)

  6. To get a Hawaii Certificate of Registration and Hawaii license plates, bring the following to your county’s motor vehicle registration office:
    1. Registration application for your county: Maui County, Hawaii County. (Applications for the City & County of Honolulu and Kauai County are available only at their offices.)
    2. Maui County only, and only if there is a lien holder listed on your out-of-state registration: Conditional Letter of Acceptance (to be completed by registered owner)
    3. Only if the vehicle year model is from the current, previous, or subsequent year (e.g., 2012, 2011, or 2013) and was bought out-of-state: Motor Vehicle Use Tax Certification, Form G-27
    4. Non-resident, active-duty military personnel only: Military ID and Non-Resident Certificate Form for your county: Maui County. (Forms for the City & County of Honolulu, Hawaii County, and Kauai County are available from military units.)
    5. Shipping receipt (bill of lading) showing the date you picked up your vehicle from the port
    6. Out-of-state vehicle registration from your previous residence
    7. Only if there is no lien holder listed on your out-of-state registration: Certificate of Title
    8. Proof of no-fault vehicle insurance
    9. Safety inspection certificate
    10. Valid drivers license (an out-of-state license is OK, as long as it hasn’t expired)
    11. Check or cash to pay license plates fees (get an estimate of the cost)
  7. To get an Out-of-State Permit, bring the following to your county’s motor vehicle registration office:
    1. Out-of-State Permit Application for your county: Hawaii County. (Applications for the City & County of Honolulu, Maui County, and Kauai County are available only at their offices.)
    2. Shipping receipt (bill of lading) showing the date you picked up your vehicle from the port
    3. Out-of-state vehicle registration from your previous residence
    4. Proof of no-fault vehicle insurance
    5. Safety inspection certificate
    6. Valid drivers license (an out-of-state license is OK, as long as it hasn’t expired)
    7. Check or cash to pay the permit fee (usually around $5-$10)

If you buy a new vehicle in Hawaii…

…the dealer will probably handle the registration process for you. If they don’t, then you must:

  1. Purchase no-fault vehicle insurance (required in Hawaii).
  2. Bring your vehicle and proof of insurance to a Hawaii gas station or mechanic for a state-required safety inspection. Save the certificate they give you.
  3. Locate the motor vehicle registration office for the county that you now live in:
    1. City & County of Honolulu (Oahu) – Dept. of Customer Services or Satellite City Halls.
    2. Maui County (Maui, Molokai, Lana’i) – Motor Vehicle & Licensing office locations
    3. Hawaii County (Big Island) – Vehicle Registration & Licensing office locations
    4. Kauai County (Kauai) -  Motor vehicle registration is handled through the Dept. of Finance, Treasury Division
  4. Bring with you to the office:
    1. Registration application for your county: Maui County, Hawaii County. (Applications for the City & County of Honolulu and Kauai County are available only at their offices.) This application must be signed by you, the registered owner(s), and the vehicle dealer.
    2. Non-resident, active-duty military personnel only: Military ID and Non-Resident Certificate Form for your county: Maui County. (Forms for the City & County of Honolulu, Hawaii County, and Kauai County are available from military units.)
    3. Proof of no-fault vehicle insurance
    4. Hawaii Safety Inspection Certificate
    5. Valid drivers license (an out-of-state license is OK, as long as it hasn’t expired)
    6. Check or cash to pay registration and license plates fees (get an estimate of the cost)

If you buy a used vehicle in Hawaii…

…you must transfer ownership of the vehicle to your name within 30 days from the date of purchase.

Here’s how:

  1. Make sure the seller fills out Section A on the vehicle’s Certificate of Title.
  2. Any lien holder listed on the Certificate of Title must complete Section B.
  3. Fill out Section D yourself.
  4. If you will have a new lienholder, they must complete Section E.
  5. Purchase no-fault vehicle insurance (required in Hawaii).
  6. Locate the motor vehicle registration office for the county that you now live in:
    1. City & County of Honolulu (Oahu) – Dept. of Customer Services or Satellite City Halls.
    2. Maui County (Maui, Molokai, Lana’i) – Motor Vehicle & Licensing office locations
    3. Hawaii County (Big Island) – Vehicle Registration & Licensing office locations
    4. Kauai County (Kauai) -  Motor vehicle registration is handled through the Dept. of Finance, Treasury Division
  7. Bring with you to the office:
    1. Certificate of Title
    2. Last-issued Certificate of Registration
    3. Last-issued Hawaii Safety Inspection Certificate
    4. Maui County only, and only if the vehicle is a pick-up truck or cargo van that won’t be used for business purposes: Non-Commercial Vehicle Certification
    5. Only if you are registering the vehicle in the name of a business: Letter of Authorization that authorizes you to buy vehicles on behalf of the business.
    6. Non-resident, active-duty military personnel only: Military ID and Non-Resident Certificate Form for your county: Maui County. (Forms for the City & County of Honolulu, Hawaii County, and Kauai County are available from military units.)
    7. Proof of no-fault vehicle insurance
    8. Valid drivers license (an out-of-state license is OK, as long as it hasn’t expired)
    9. Check or cash to pay transfer fee (usually around $5-$10). If the last-issued Certificate of Registration has expired or will expire within 45 days, you will also pay to renew the vehicle’s registration at this time (get an estimate of the cost).

A couple more things…

Registration Renewals: Once you’ve registered your vehicle in your name for the first time in Hawaii, you’ll be able to renew your registration each year by mail, online, or in-person. You’ll receive reminders in the mail notifying you of when your registration will expire and what you need to do to renew it.

Hawaii Motor Vehicle Inquiry: You can look up records for any motor vehicle registered in the state of Hawaii, as long as you know its vehicle identification number (VIN) and license plate number.