Car Registration in Hawaii

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Summary: How to Register Your Vehicle in Hawaii

Your vehicle must be registered to the Hawaii county where you reside. The process differs by your county. You will need to get a safety inspection, submit your vehicle title and a registration application, and pay the appropriate fee; examples below are for Hawaii County.

If you move to Hawaii, move within the state from one county to another, or buy a vehicle in Hawaii, you must register it with the Hawaii Department of Transportation. Hawaii is unique in that the state is comprised of islands and broken up by counties. Vehicles must be registered in the county in which you live.

If you already have a vehicle registered with the state, visit our Registration Renewal page for all of the information you may need to keep your Hawaii registration current.

NOTE: As of 2017, a new law will be implemented requiring all HI moped owners to annually register their mopeds and have safety inspections. All counties must implement the law by December 31, 2017. For more info contact HDOT or your local licensing agency:

NOTE: For registration of special vehicle types, such as custom-built cars, ATVs, and recreational vehicles (RVs), visit our Other Vehicle Registrations page.

New to Hawaii?

If you are moving to Hawaii, or are staying for an extended period of time, you will need to either register your vehicle with your county or apply for an out-of-state permit.

HI Car Registration for New Residents

If you are moving to Hawaii, you must register your vehicle within 30 days. In order to do so, you must first obtain a safety inspection certificate from any authorized safety check station (see “Hawaii Vehicle Inspections" below).

Go to your county's closest motor vehicle registration office and submit:

  • A completed Application for Registration of Motor Vehicle.
    • All owners listed on the title must sign the application.
  • The most recent out-of-state certificate of vehicle registration.
  • The out-of-state title.
  • A shipping receipt or bill of lading documenting the date of the vehicle's arrival.
  • A Hawaii certificate of safety inspection.
  • Proof of your vehicle's weight by the manufacturer.
    • If you do not have manufacturer's documentation, have your vehicle weighed on a certified scale.
  • A Motor Vehicle Use Tax Certification form (G-27).
    • This form determines if you are required to pay use tax on your vehicle. Additional forms may be required.
    • For more information on this form, contact the Taxpayer Service Branch at:
      • (800) 222-3229.
      • Hearing impaired: (800) 887-8974.
  • Payment for all registration fees determined by the registration office (see “Hawaii Vehicle Registration Fees" below).

Hawaii Out-of-State Permit

If you've brought your vehicle to Hawaii but you won't be staying long enough to register it, you may apply for an out-of-state permit. You'll first need to obtain a vehicle safety inspection at your nearest approved safety check station.

Within 30 days of arrival, complete the following at your local motor vehicle office:

  • Provide a current registration card in your name.
  • Present your vehicle inspection certificate.
  • Complete the Out-Of-State Vehicle Permit application form CS-L (MVR) 27.
  • Submit the shipping receipt or bill of lading documenting the date of arrival.
  • Pay the $5 permit fee.

Once you get the out-of-state permit, your out-of-state license plates will be valid for 12 months or until they expire, whichever happens first.

Registering a Vehicle in Hawaii

While each county in Hawaii has its own registration process, the differences will generally be minimal. Below, you'll find an example of the registration process for Hawaii County. Please contact your specific county DMV office for details on your requirements.

If you've purchased a vehicle or moved to a different county, you must register your vehicle with the motor vehicle registration office of the county in which you reside.

The process differs slightly based on whether you've:

  • Purchased a new/used vehicle from a HI dealership.
  • Purchased a vehicle from a private individual.
  • Moved from one Hawaii county to another.

Vehicles Purchased from a Dealership

When you purchase a vehicle at a Hawaii dealership, the car dealer will take care of all the paperwork to get your vehicle titled and licensed. They will also collect your vehicle registration fees.

Vehicles from a Private Party

You must register your vehicle within 30 days of buying the vehicle. Go to the motor vehicle registration office and submit:

  • The vehicle title, signed over to you by the previous owner.
    • All previous and new owners must sign the title, including any lienholders.
  • The current Hawaii vehicle registration from the previous owner.
    • Registrations that are expired, or will expire within 45 days of the transaction, will be charged for the appropriate registration renewal fees.
  • A completed Application for Registration of Motor Vehicle.
    • All new owners listed on the title must sign the application.
  • A current safety inspection certificate.
  • Payment for the $5 vehicle registration transfer fee.

A $50 late fee will be charged if the transfer of ownership and registration are not completed within 30 days. Delinquent taxes will also be charged for any years in which the vehicle was not registered. Discuss this with the seller of the vehicle to determine who is responsible for payment of these delinquent taxes, if applicable.

Changing Counties in Hawaii

Hawaii vehicles must be registered in the county where they are driven, rather than one general, statewide registration. If you move from one county to another in Hawaii, you must register your car or truck in your new county of residence.

Go to the DMV office in your new county and submit:

  • A completed Application for Registration of Motor Vehicle.
    • All owners listed on the title must sign the application.
  • The vehicle title.
  • The car registration certificate from the previous county.
  • Lienholder information, if applicable.
  • Payment for your registration fees, determined by the registration office (see “Vehicle Registration Fees" below).

HI Military Members & Vehicle Registration

Registration rules are different for members of the military serving in Hawaii, based on whether you are a Hawaii resident stationed in or out of state, or a non-resident stationed in Hawaii.

Out-of-State Military Stationed in Hawaii

Contact the Hawaii DMV for details on your specific circumstances for registering your out-of-state vehicle in Hawaii.

If you purchase a vehicle in Hawaii, or choose to register your out-of-state vehicle in Hawaii, you do not have to pay registration fees.

Reservists, National Guard, and temporary active duty soldiers are not exempt from registration fees, but you MAY claim an exemption from vehicle weight taxes for 1 vehicle registered in your name.

To claim your respective registration fee exemption:

  • Follow the applicable steps listed above, either in “New to Hawaii?" for registering an out-of-state vehicle, or “Vehicle Registration" for purchasing a new vehicle in the state.
  • Submit the applicable form:
    • Registration fee exemption: Non-Resident Certificate form (MVR/DF10), available from the HI registration office when you register your car, OR a Non-Resident Certificate form CS-L (MVR) 50, available from your military unit or personnel office.
    • Vehicle weight fee exemption: Hawaii Resident Certificate form CS-L (MVR) 50A, available from your military unit or personnel office.

You will need to complete your applicable form each time you apply for a registration renewal, move counties, or transfer vehicle ownership.

If you change your residency to Hawaii, leave active duty service, or leave your vehicle in the state after being stationed somewhere else, you are no longer exempt from any fees and must re-register your vehicle within 30 days.

Hawaii Residents Stationed in Hawaii

Military residents of Hawaii may register a vehicle using the same methods outlined above for civilian Hawaii residents. You may also qualify for an exemption from vehicle weight fees.

Obtain a Hawaii Resident Certificate form CS-L (MVR) 50A from your military unit or personnel office, and submit it, along with the documents listed above in the “Vehicle Registration" section, to your local motor vehicle registration office.

HI Military Residents Stationed Out of State

If you're currently stationed outside of Hawaii, and you are resident of the city and county of Honolulu, you may register your vehicle by mail.

You'll need to:

  • Contact the Honolulu Department of Customer Service at (808) 768-4325.
  • Request to register your vehicle with the Military Resident form CS-L (MVR) 65.
  • Send the form to your local Hawaii DMV office to have the necessary registration documents sent to your current location.

If you are a resident of Maui, Kauai, or Hawaii Counties, please contact your respective county Motor Vehicle Registration office to find out whether this option is also offered to you:

  • Hawaii County:
    • East Hawaii: (808) 961-8351.
    • West Hawaii: (808) 323-4818.
  • Kauai County: (808) 241-4256.
  • Maui County: (808) 270-7363.

Vehicle Registration Fees in Hawaii

Vehicle registration fees in Hawaii are based upon your county of residence, vehicle weight, plus taxes and other county/state fees.

You will need to contact your motor vehicle registration office to find out exactly how much you will owe.

Below are some example registration fees for Hawaii County:

  • State fee: $45.
  • County fee: $12.
  • Transfer fee: $5.
  • State weight tax:
    • 0 to 4,000 lbs.: 1.75 cents per lbs.
    • 4,001 to 7,000 lbs.: 2 cents per lbs.
    • 7,001 to 10,000 lbs.: 2.25 cents per lbs.
    • Over 10,001 lbs.: $300 flat rate.
  • County weight tax:
    • Passenger vehicles & trucks up to 6,500 lbs.: 1.25 cents per lb. (minimum of $12).
    • All vehicles over 6,500 lbs.: 2.5 cents per lbs.
  • Beautification fee: $1.
  • Sticker renewal/replacement: $0.50.
  • Plate replacement: $5.
  • Duplicate registration: $5

Obtain a Duplicate Hawaii Vehicle Registration

If you lose your registration, or if it is stolen or damaged, you must apply for a duplicate registration certificate as soon as possible.

Go to your local DMV office and:

You can also visit our Replacing a Lost HI Registration page for further details.

Hawaii Vehicle Inspections

The state of Hawaii requires that all vehicles get a safety inspection before being registered, and must be inspected annually thereafter.

Take your vehicle to an approved vehicle service station and repair shop. You must provide:

The inspection technicians will determine if your vehicle is safe enough to be registered in Hawaii. If you pass the inspection, you will be given an inspection certificate, and the results will be sent to the DMV. Please note that it can take up to 48 hours for the system to reflect updated inspection expirations.

Emissions inspections are not required; however, it is everyone's responsibility to do their part in keeping the land and air free of emissions and pollution. Visit our section on Hawaii Smog & Emissions Checks for information on how to reduce your vehicle's emissions.

Hawaii License Plates

You will receive standard Hawaii license plates once you have registered your vehicle. You will also have the option of ordering specialty license plates (such as U.S. veteran plates, college/university plates, etc.), or create personalized/vanity plates. These may cost an extra fee, and may take longer to arrive.

Visit our page on License Plates & Placards in Hawaii for more information. BBB Business Review

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