License Plates & Placards in Hawaii

SUMMARY: Hawaii License Plates

You can apply for license plates in Hawaii in person at your county DMV office. When it's time to renew your tags, most counties offer renewals online, by mail, and in person. You may be able to transfer tags between vehicles, and you must replace plates or stickers if they're damaged or missing.

Read below for helpful information about license plates and tags in Hawaii.

NOTE: Eligible for disabled parking? Our Disability Plates and Placards page has complete details.

Types of Hawaii License Plates

If you live in Hawaii, your vehicle must have a license plate with a sticker that shows how long it is valid. License plates are issued by your HI county's DMV office:

  • Honolulu City & County Department of Customer Services, Division of Motor Vehicles and Licensing (CSD): (808) 532-4325.
  • Hawaii County Motor Vehicle Registration : (808) 961-8351.
  • Maui County Motor Vehicle and Licensing Division : (808) 270-7363.
  • Kaua'i County Department of Motor Vehicles: (808) 241-4256.

License Plate Designs

Hawaii's standard license plate features a rainbow with a white background and black lettering.

The state also offers specialty license plates, including military honor plates and personalized tags.

If you qualify, you may be eligible for disabled parking in Hawaii. Our Disability Placards and Plates page has more information.

Temporary Tags

If you buy a vehicle in Hawaii, you may be able to get a temporary registration allowing you to drive the vehicle while you wait for your permanent HI tags.

For more information, ask your vehicle dealer or contact your county motor vehicle agency.

Apply for License Plates

To apply for your Hawaii tags, you must register your vehicle with your county's motor vehicle office.

Vehicle registration is required when you:

  • Move to Hawaii (with an out-of-state vehicle).
  • Buy a vehicle.

Each county has its own registration process, requirements, and fees. See our Vehicle Registration page for more information.

Renew Your HI Vehicle Tags

You'll need to renew your tags before the sticker on your license plate expires.

You should receive a renewal notice before the expiration date.

Most Hawaii counties offer renewal:

  • Online.
  • By mail.
  • In person.

See our Registration Renewal page for instructions.

Replace License Plates or Stickers

If your license plate or expiration sticker is lost, stolen, or damaged, you can order replacements from your county DMV in Hawaii.

The process to get replacements differs for each county.

Honolulu City & County Replacements

If you live in Honolulu and your license plates are lost or stolen, you MUST file a police report. You don't have to report damaged plates.

You can then order replacement plates and decals by submitting:

Submit your materials:

  • In person at any Satellite City Hall office.
  • By mail to:
  • Division of Motor Vehicles and Licensing
    P.O. Box 30320
    Honolulu, HI 96820

Hawaii County Replacements

To order replacement plates or expiration emblems in Hawaii County, you'll need:

  • The Application for Replacement License Plate and/or Decal.
  • Your current vehicle registration.
  • Any license plates that are still in your possession.
  • Payment for the replacement fee:
    • $5.50 for a license plate AND decal.
    • $0.50 for a decal only.
    NOTE: See the application form for other fees.

NOTE: Your vehicle's safety inspection must still be valid. The motor vehicle office may request your safety inspection certificate as proof.

Submit your documents in person at a Hawaii MVR office.

Maui County Replacements

To replace your license plate or sticker in Maui County, submit:

Submit your materials in person at a Maui county motor vehicle office.

Kaua'i County Replacements

If your license plate is lost or stolen and your vehicle is registered in Kaua'i County, you MUST report it to the police.

To order replacements, you'll need to submit:

  • Form MVR 1.
    • Get the form at the Lihue office or by calling (808) 241-4256.
  • Your current registration.
  • Your inspection certificate.
  • Any license plates you still have.
  • Payment for the applicable fees. Contact the Kaua'i MVR at the number above for exact fees.

Transfer & Surrender Hawaii Tags

You'll usually be able to transfer your tags when you sell or trade a vehicle and buy another one. In general, you'll transfer tags when you register your vehicle.

You may have to surrender your license plates in some situations, such as when you:

  • Move to another state.
  • Cancel your car insurance.
  • Get a new type of license plate (e.g., specialty or personalized).

Contact your local Hawaii DMV office for more information about transferring and surrendering license plates.

Fees for License Plates

The cost of license plates varies from county to county in Hawaii.

For the most accurate and current fees, contact your county's DMV office:

  • Honolulu: (808) 532-4325.
  • Hawaii: (808) 961-8351.
  • Maui: (808) 270-7363.
  • Kaua'i: (808) 241-4256.

Personalized and Specialty Plates

Personalized Plates

Adding a bit of style and character to a vehicle is as easy as creating a witty word or phrase for the license plates. You are allowed up to 6 letters, numbers, or a mix and match of both. Spaces count as characters, and the only punctuation mark available is the hyphen, which can be utilized only once.

Obviously, anything deemed objectionable, profane, or just slightly offensive will not make the cut. So keep that in mind when you are trying to craft letters and numbers to reflect an extension of your personality. Plus, considering every license plate in the state must be unique, you can figure plenty of obvious choices are long gone (i.e. surfer, dude, Hawaii, etc).

The City and County of Honolulu has an online site where you can not only order personalized plates, but also instantly check to see if your desired word or phrase is available. For the other counties, you will need to make a trip to a registration field office (see locations below). The fee for the plate is an additional $25 each year above your standard registration costs.

Organization License Plate Decals

In an effort to boost the coffers of nonprofit institutions meeting a fixed set of guidelines, Hawaii's legislature enacted a license plate decal program. This produces a twofold benefit.

First, it gives these important organizations, many of which are constantly cash-strapped, an extra fundraising tool. Second, it allows you to spruce up your license plate with a decal while supporting a cause that may be important to you. The organization decals run the gamut and include the likes of:

  • Bishop Museum
  • Honolulu Symphony
  • D.A.R.E.
  • Planned Parenthood
  • Hawaii Community Foundation
  • Iolani School
  • Kamehameha Schools
  • Missouri Memorial
  • Hawaii Pacific University
  • Humane Society
  • Hawaii Firefighter Fund
  • Hawaii Red Cross
  • Alliance for Arts and Education

Both the City and County of Honolulu and Hawaii County have applications available online. Maui and Kauai have the forms available at any motor vehicle registration office (see below for locations).

The initial fee to replace your current license plate with a decal plate will be $30.50. Of that, $20.00 goes to the organization you are supporting. After that, each year a total of $25 will be added to your registration fees. Of that, $20.00 will also go to the organization.

Military Plates

If you can provide the evidence of service for the plate you are applying for, you can receive a special military plate. Proof can range from discharge papers to written verification from the Veterans Administration. Some of the license plates available include:

  • Combat Wounded
  • Purple Heart
  • Former Prisoner of War
  • WWII Veteran
  • Korean War Veteran
  • Vietnam Veteran
  • Persian Gulf Veteran
  • Pearl Harbor Survivor
  • Combat Veteran

Amateur Radio Plates

Those holding a valid amateur radio license from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) can apply to have their call numbers placed on a license plate.

Plug-In Electric Vehicle (PEV) Plates

According to the Alternative Fuels Data Center, drivers of plug-in-electric vehicles (PEVs) can obtain special license plates that allow them to:

  • Drive in high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes, regardless of the number of passengers.
  • Park for free where non-government agency parking fees normally are required.
  • Contact your local registration office (see below) for details.

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