Paperwork When Buying a Car in Hawaii

Buying a car in Hawaii means taking care of some paperwork so that you can have the vehicle titled and registered in your name. No matter where in Hawaii you live, you'll need certain documents from the vehicle seller, such as the title and a bill of sale, to complete these applications.

If you buy your car from a dealership, they will likely handle the paperwork on your behalf. However, if you buy from a private seller, you'll be responsible for getting the vehicle titled and registered with your county's motor vehicle licensing departments or DMV.

Read below for more information about paperwork required for car buyers in Hawaii.

Paperwork for Hawaii Car Buyers

The process for obtaining paperwork and registering your new car differs based on whether you purchased the vehicle from a dealership or a private party.

In most Hawaiian counties, dealerships handle all the necessary paperwork required for titling and registration following a purchase.

However, if you purchase a car from a private seller, you'll need certain documents so you can transfer ownership into your name. These include:

  • The vehicle's title properly completed, including the:
    • Odometer disclosure statement.
    • Sale price.
    • Purchase date.
    • Signatures from the buyer and seller.
      • If the car doesn't have a title, the seller MUST get a new one prior to completing the sale. The process varies by county; visit our page on replacing a lost title Hawaii title for more.
  • A safety inspection certificate.

Fees vary by location, vehicle type, and several other factors. To determine your fees, contact your county registration agency:

  • City or County of Honolulu: You can use the Honolulu Motor Vehicle Fee Inquiry online.
  • Maui County: Contact your branch of the Motor Vehicle, Licensing, and Permits Division (DMV).
  • Hawaii County: Contact the local office of the Vehicle Registration and Licensing Division.
  • Kauai County: Call the Department of Motor Vehicles (MVR) office, a division of the Department of Finance, at (808) 241-4256.

HI Vehicle Registration Paperwork

After buying a car in Hawaii, visit your county's motor vehicle office to title and register it. The exact requirements vary by county—please visit our guide to Car Registration in Hawaii for your specific details.

Vehicle History Reports

A Vehicle History Report is an important tool for used car buyers. Using a car's vehicle identification number (VIN), a report gives you information such as:

  • The vehicle's approximate odometer reading.
  • Accident involving the vehicle.
  • The car's damage history.
  • Other potential damaging events, such as past flooding or theft of the vehicle.

A vehicle history report has accurate information that can help protect you against issues like odometer fraud, misleading sellers, and vehicles with extensive internal damage.

While the report isn't required paperwork for buying a car in Hawaii, it is a helpful document, whether you're buying a used car from a dealership or a private seller.

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