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  • Nicholas Hinrichsen

Hawaii Car Registration: Everything you Need to Know

Updated: Aug 13

Whether you’re a Hawaii local or you’ve just moved to Hawaii, this article provides instructions to register a new vehicle, renew your motor vehicle registration and answer additional questions you may have regarding the Hawaii Car Registration process.

This article will address the following questions:

  • How do I complete renewal registration online in Hawaii?

  • How do I re-register a car in Hawaii offline?

  • How do I register my out-of-state vehicle in Hawaii?

  • How do I register a vehicle for the first time in Hawaii?

  • What fees might be involved in car registration?

  • What sort of inspection is needed?

  • Are there any special rules or cases for registration?

This article will serve as your complete guide on successfully registering your vehicle according to HI State Laws through the Hawaii Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Since registration renewal varies in the state of Hawaii, the methods of renewal have been broken down by county/city.


We have included each city and county DMV site below to learn more about the registration processes on your island:

How to Renew your Registration Online in Hawaii


In Hawaii, you are required to renew your motor vehicle registration annually before your registration expires. As a friendly reminder, the Hawaii DMV sends a renewal notice in the mail at least 45 days before you are required to renew. The renewal notice will include your name, vehicle information, renewal options, registration fees due, outstanding traffic fees due, registration expiration date, and if emission testing is required. You must renew your motor vehicle registration by the exact date on your renewal notice.


Failure to register vehicles by the expiration date will result in a $16 late penalty ($8 county late fee + $8 state penalty) for passenger vehicles. A $40 late penalty will be added onto final registration fees if a commercial vehicle is registered late ($20 county Tax + $20 state late fee).


Renewing your HI registration online is a fast and easy process. You will need to visit your local county online registration platform:

You are eligible to renew registration online if:

  • You have received a renewal application form.

  • Your vehicle is currently registered in your city and county

  • Your renewal application form indicates your current mailing address.

  • There are no requirements listed in the SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS portion on your renewal application form, indicating you need to submit the additional form(s) with your renewal application and payment.

When registering online, you must:

  • If applicable. have a completed inspection on file

  • See “Smog and Safety Inspections” for more information

  • Enter your vehicle’s license plate number

  • Be prepared to share the last four digits of your vehicle identification number (VIN)

  • Have a credit or debit card on hand to pay registration fees

  • Forms of payments accepted are Visa, MasterCard, or Discover

  • For more information on registration fees, please see “fee/taxes” below

After your transaction, you should receive your new registration and sticker within 10 business days.


How to Renew your Registration Offline in Hawaii


Renew by Mail

If you want to change your address or have additional documents to send in, renewing your registration by mail is an option for you. To renew by mail, you must have received a renewal notice in the mail and all information should be correct. If the address listed is the only incorrect piece of information, you will need to include a change of address form in your envelope. To avoid late fees, you must postmark your registration no later than 10 days before the expiration date.


When mailing your renewal notice to the DMV, you should also include the following document in the envelope:

  • If applicable, The yellow portion of your safety inspection

  • If applicable, A change of address form

  • If you have unpaid parking tickets, you will need a clearance letter from your local county DMV

  • Include payment in the form of a check or money order made payable to your local county

  • Form of payment accepted is a certified check or money order

  • There is a $25 service fee for returned checks

You will need to send the documents to your local county office.


Honolulu Address

Division of Motor Vehicles and Licensing

P.O. Box 30320

Honolulu, Hawaii 96820-0320


Maui Address

70 E. Kaahumanu Ave.

Maui Mall, Suite A-17

Kahului, HI 96732


Hawaii Address

Vehicle Registration and Licensing Division

101 Pauahi St., Suite 5

Hilo, HI 96720

Kauai Address

County of Kauai

Department of Finance

Treasury Division (MVR)

4444 Rice St., Ste 466

Lihue, HI 96766-1340


Renew in-person

Renewing in-person is an excellent option if you have a large transaction, need additional help, or have outstanding fees or tickets on your account. You can renew your registration in-person at your nearest Satellite Service center in your county. To find a location nearest you, please visit your local county website.


When renewing in person, you should be prepared with the following:

  • Current registration or renewal notice

  • If applicable, Proof of insurance

  • If applicable, your safety inspection certificate

  • If you have unpaid parking tickets, you will need a clearance letter from your local county DMV

  • Payment for applicable fees

  • Payment forms may vary based on the office you visit. The most commonly accepted forms of payment are cash, check, and money order.

COVID-19

Due to coronavirus, many of these Satellite Service centers are closed, have reduced hours, or are only seeing customers by appointment only. Kauai offers an online appointment schedule through its in-line service.


To renew by kiosks:

To use a kiosk, you must be in the following window: 45 days before the expiration and no later than 10 months after. Once you have completed the transaction, your receipt will be printed, as well as your registration and emblem.


New Resident Registration

If you move to Hawaii and ship your vehicle to your new island of residence, it must be registered in your county or you must obtain an out-of-state permit within 30 days of arrival. You must complete these transactions in-person at a DMV location in your county or mail them into the address listed on your county DMV site. With the current pandemic, some locations may be closed, have limited hours, or be by appointment only. We recommend you call ahead to see if your local office is open and if you need any additional documentation.


Local County Websites:

To prove Hawaii Residency you need two different documents with your full name (first and last):

  • Valid Driver’s License

  • Current vehicle registration or title

  • Utility bill under 2 months old

  • Rental agreement (6 months or more)

  • Mortgage

  • Paystub

  • Financial Statement (less than 2 months old)

Documents needed to obtain a Driver License/ID:

  • Proof of Social Security Number (SSN)

  • Proof of legal residency in the USA (U.S. Passport, Permanent resident card)

  • Name change documents (if applicable)

  • Proof of Residency in Hawaii

  • Completed application for getting a driver’s license (here)

How to register your vehicle:

  • Complete an Application for Registration form

  • Submit your most recent out-of-state registration

  • Submit Certificate of Title

  • If you still have a lien on the vehicle, you will not need to submit this document

  • Submit a Bil of Lading or the shipping receipt

  • These documents will show when the vehicle arrived in HI

  • Submit a current Hawaii safety inspection report

  • Submit a Motor Vehicle Use Tax Certification G-27

  • This document is used to determine if you will need to pay taxes for the vehicle.

  • Please see the Tax Certification document for exemptions to this tax

  • Submit Proof of the Vehicle Weight

  • An approved form of payment for registration fees

To apply for an out-of-state permit:

  • Complete Out-of-State permit application

  • Submit your current out-of-state registration

  • Submit a Bil of Lading or the shipping receipt

  • These documents will show when the vehicle arrived in HI

  • Submit a current Hawaii safety inspection report

  • Payment for a $5 permit fee

These permits are valid for one year or until your out-of-state plates expire.

Insurance

In the state of Hawaii, it is required to have auto insurance in order to be legally operating a motor vehicle. The minimum liability insurance for the state of Hawaii:

  • $10,000 per passenger in your vehicle that is injured

  • $20,000 per person injured

  • $40,000 total for those injured

  • $10,000 for property damage

New Registration for a purchased vehicle


After purchasing a new vehicle in Hawaii, there are a few things to note about the purchasing differences from a dealership versus a private party.


Did you purchase a vehicle from a dealership?

If the vehicle is purchased from a HI Dealer, they will more than likely take care of registering it for you. On the off chance they do not, they should provide you with the documentation you will need to register and title your vehicle successfully. You will need to complete this transaction within 30 days of the sale.


Did you purchase a vehicle from a private party?

It is your responsibility as the buyer to handle everything your vehicle needs. You must complete these transactions in-person at a DMV location in your county. With the current pandemic, some locations may be closed, have limited hours, or be by appointment only. We recommend you call ahead to see if your local office is open and if you need any additional documentation.


To be successful in transferring your title and registration, you must bring:

  • A signed vehicle title

  • Both the seller and the buyer must sign the back of the title

  • If there is a lien, please collect a lien release from the seller

  • The previous owner's HI registration

  • If the registration expires in less than 45 days or is expired, you will need to pay for the registration fees plus the $5 transfer fee

  • A completed Application for Registration form

  • Submit your current Hawaii safety inspection report

  • Payment for fees

  • There will be a $5.00 registration transfer fee applied to the transaction.

  • A late fee of $50 is applied to any documents received after the 30 day period.


Fees and Taxes


Annual Registration Fees

In Hawaii, the annual fees for registration are based on the county and vehicle weight. There may be additional taxes and fees added to this amount. An online registration fee calculator is not offered on any of the county websites, so you will need to contact your local DMV to calculate your registration fees.


County Weight Tax

  • Passenger vehicles = 1.25 cents per pound for all weights (minimum $12.00)

  • Passenger trucks that are up to 6,500 pounds = 1.25 cents per pound (minimum $12.00)

  • Freight vehicles and all trucks weighing over 6,500 pounds are 2.5 cents per pound

Extra fees for using a kiosk

  • City and County of Honolulu: $3 per renewed vehicle + 2.5% credit card fee

  • Maui County: No extra fees

  • Hawaii County: $3 per renewed vehicle + 2.5% credit card fee

  • Kauai County: No extra fees

Sales Tax

Purchased vehicles are subject to a 4.712% state sales tax.


Miscellaneous Fees

  • Four-year license: $16

  • State ID (8 years): $32

  • Safety Inspections: Price can range from $19 to 25 depending on where you go

Smog and Safety Inspections


Safety Inspections

Vehicle Safety Inspections are required in Hawaii for vehicles that are new to the Island, recently purchased, and/or are older than two model years. The yearly inspection date will correspond to your registration expiration date. Inspections can be obtained by going to any authorized local service station or vehicle repair shop.


What to bring:

  • Vehicle Registration

  • Valid license plates

  • Insurance identification card

Passed Inspection:

A sticker will be affixed to your vehicle and you will be given a certificate of inspection to keep on file. After the inspection, the information is updated in the statewide database within 48 hours.


Failed Inspection:

If the vehicle fails the inspection, you will be provided with a list of repairs that need to be addressed. The vehicle will need to be re-inspected after the repairs are completed.


Smog and Emissions

Currently, Hawaii does not have any emissions testing requirements.


Special Circumstances


Active Duty

Hawaii residents located in Hawaii, who are on active duty and members of the National Guard and Reserve, are exempt from motor vehicle weight taxes for one registered vehicle in their name. They need to complete and submit a Hawaii Resident Certificate, Form CS-L (MVR)50A each time at registration renewal.


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