All vehicles must be registered through the Hawaii Department of Transportation. Since Hawaii is made up of islands, registration is a little different than other states. Vehicles must be registered in the county where you live. If you are new to Hawaii, you have 30 days to register your vehicle. You must first obtain a safety inspection certificate before you can fully register your car.

New resident registration

As a new resident of Hawaii, to complete your registration you must provide the following:

  • Complete an application for registration of motor vehicle
  • Recent out-of-state certificate of vehicle registration
  • Out-of-state title
  • Bill of landing or shipping receipt
  • Certificate of safety inspection
  • Vehicle’s weight as provided by the manufacturer
  • A motor vehicle use tax certification form
  • Registration fees

If you are bringing your vehicle to Hawaii, but not staying long enough to register it, you can apply for an out-of-state permit. This must be completed within 30 days of arrival.

Out-of-state permit

To apply for the out-of-state permit you will need to provide the following:

  • Current registration card
  • Vehicle inspection certificate
  • Out-of-state vehicle permit application
  • Bill of landing or shipping receipt
  • $5 for the permit fee

Each county in Hawaii has a slightly different registration process. In addition, the process will also differ depending on if you moved from one county to another, purchased a vehicle from a private seller, or bought a vehicle from a dealership. If you buy a vehicle from a dealership, the dealer will take care of all the paperwork in order for your vehicle to be properly registered.

Registering a vehicle bought from a private seller

However if you've purchased a vehicle from a private seller you will need to provide the following to register it:

  • Title signed over to you
  • Current Hawaii vehicle registration
  • Complete an application for registration of motor vehicle
  • Show a current safety inspection certificate
  • $5 for registration transfer fee

If the registration and transfer of ownership are not completed within 30 days, a $50 late fee will be applied. In addition, if you move to a different county in Hawaii, the vehicle must be registered in the new county.

Registering in a new county

If you move to a new county, you will need to provide the following:

  • Complete an application for registration of motor vehicle
  • Vehicle title
  • Car registration certificate
  • Lienholder information, if applicable
  • Pay registration fees

Military

Military members who are residents of a different state may purchase a vehicle while stationed in Hawaii. In addition, an out-of-state vehicle may also be registered. In these cases, you do not have to pay registration fees.

National Guard, reservists, and temporary active duty soldiers must pay registration fees, but may be exempt from paying vehicle weight taxes. To do this, follow the steps under New Resident Registration and submit the Registration Fee Exemption: Non-Resident Certificate Form along with the Vehicle Weight Fee Exemption form.

Registration fees vary from county to county. In addition, if you move, the vehicle needs to be registered in the new county as Hawaii has slightly different laws than other areas in the United States.

If you have any more questions about this process, be sure to visit the Hawaii DMV.org website.

This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as How to Register a Car in Hawaii and was authored by Valerie Johnston.


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