Hawaii Vehicle Registration Requirements (Everything You Should Know)

Hawaii Vehicle Registration Requirements (Everything You Should Know)

According to Hawaii law, you have to register your motor vehicle in the county where you use it. 

But how do you register your car in Hawaii?

What are the Hawaii vehicle registration requirements?

We’re going to answer these questions here. 

In this article, you’ll know everything you need to know about vehicle registration in Hawaii, including renewal, penalties, and more. 

So let’s dive right in! 

How to Register My Car in Hawaii

In Hawaii, the requirements differ depending on your situation. So let’s go through each situation.

Registering a Vehicle for New Hawaii Residents

Let’s say you just moved to Hawaii. 

Or maybe you moved to a different county, say, from Honolulu to Kauai. 

And during the move, you bring your car along with you. 

If that’s the case, follow these steps to get your vehicle registered: 

  • Prepare these documents: 
    • Out-of-state permit. You can get this from the nearest DMV office. This permit should be acquired within 30 days of your arrival in Hawaii. 
    • Out-of-state title
    • Shipping receipt or bill of lading. This should indicate when your vehicle has been delivered to Hawaii. 
    • Printed and filled up Motor Vehicle Use Tax Certification form
    • An official document stating the weight of the vehicle
  • Apply for a vehicle safety inspection. To do this, take your vehicle to a state-approved service station and bring your vehicle’s registration and car insurance. 
  • Go to your nearest DMV office and submit all these documents. 
  • Pay the $5 permit fee. 

The registration of your vehicle lasts for 12 months before you need to renew it. 

Registering a New Vehicle in Hawaii

What if you’ve been a resident of Hawaii for a while and just bought a new car. 

If you bought a vehicle from a dealership, the car dealer usually handles the registration for you. This registration should be done within 30 days since you bought the vehicle. 

For cars that were bought from a private owner in Hawaii, you have to submit the following: 

  • Signed vehicle title where the previous owner’s and your signature are attached at the back of the title
  • Hawaii registration of the vehicle (provided by the previous owner)
  • Completed Hawaii safety inspection report
  • Filled up Application for Registration Form

How to Renew My Car Registration in Hawaii

Before the 12 months are up, you need to renew your car’s registration. The Hawaii DMV sends a renewal notice 45 days before the registration expires. 

The great thing about this notice is that it contains instructions on how to renew your vehicle. 

That said, you can renew your car’s registration online, by mail, or in person. 

Now, each county will have a slightly different process for renewal, so it’s best to visit their websites for this: 

But let’s take a look at the general steps.

Renewing a Car Registration Online in Hawaii

Not all vehicles are allowed online renewal. So it’s best to check the renewal notice for your options. 

If you are eligible to renew online, follow these steps: 

  • Complete a safety inspection with an approved service station or car repair shop.
  • Enter your vehicle’s plate number on the renewal web page of your county. You may be asked for the last four digits of your vehicle identification number (VIN). 
  • Pay the registration fees. 

Once done, wait 10 business days to receive your new registration and sticker. This is why it’s a good idea to renew before the expiration date. 

Renewing a Car Registration By Mail in Hawaii

You can only renew by mail if you’ve already received a renewal notice. The renewal process takes 10 business days, so make sure to send your request before that. 

Here’s how you can renew your car registration by mail: 

  • Make sure that all the information on the renewal notice is correct. If there are errors in your address, include a change of address form in the letter. 
  • Fill up the form included in the renewal notice. 
  • If applicable, include these documents: 
    • A safety inspection form
    • A clearance letter from your county DMV for unpaid parking tickets
  • Include your payment by adding a check or money order payable to your county. 
  • Send the filled-up documents and renewal notice to the right address:


Division of Motor Vehicles and Licensing

P.O. Box 30320

Honolulu, Hawaii 96820-0320


70 E. Kaahumanu Ave.

Maui Mall, Suite A-17

Kahului, HI 96732


Vehicle Registration and Licensing Division

101 Pauahi St., Suite 5

Hilo, HI 96720


County of Kauai

Department of Finance

Treasury Division (MVR)

4444 Rice St., Ste 466

Lihue, HI 96766-1340

Renewing a Car Registration In Person

Renewing your car registration has become a lot easier, yes, even if you’re doing it in person. We have to thank the Hawaii DMV Now Kiosks for this. 

The Hawaii DMV Now Kiosks prints out your new registration stickers the moment you apply for renewal. You can find them at Safeway and Foodland stores. 

To renew at kiosks, follow these steps: 

  • Bring your renewal notice to the kiosk. Scan the barcode found on the notice. If you don’t have your renewal notice with you, you can just input your license plate number, vehicle type, and county. 
  • Pay the renewal fee using a debit or credit card. Very few kiosks receive cash payments. 
  • Get the new license plate emblem and registration card from the kiosk. 

And that’s it! That’s how easy it is to renew in person. 

Penalties for Late Car Registration in Hawaii

If you do not register your car within 30 days of transfer or purchase, then you’ll face a penalty. This includes a state fee and a county fee. 

For passenger vehicles, the penalty fee is usually $16, while it’s $40 for commercial vehicles.

Vehicle Equipment in Hawaii

All motor vehicles operating in Hawaii are required to have a set of equipment that meets the state’s standards. 

These pieces of equipment are inspected at least once a year, also known as the safety inspection. This is a prerequisite for vehicle registration. 

There is also illegal vehicle equipment. 

So let’s take the time to look at the required and illegal vehicle equipment in Hawaii. 

Required Vehicle Equipment

These are the required vehicle equipment in Hawaii: 

  • Brakes – should be able to stop the vehicle. The brake test will include checking if the car stops and does not change direction at 4-8 mph. 
  • Brake lamps – should turn on when brakes are used. 
  • Directional signals – should turn on depending on the direction you wish to go. 
  • Door latches – should be able to lock the door properly. 
  • Exhaust system – should be able to carry gases outside of the car to avoid fumes from entering and staying inside the vehicle. 
  • Headlamps – should turn on properly.
  • Hood latches – should be equipped with a primary and secondary latch. The hood should not open when these latches are locked. 
  • Horn – should be in good working condition and has to make audible sounds. 
  • Rear-view mirrors – can be adjusted to fit the driver’s preferences. Mirrors should be clear and firmly attached. 
  • Safety belts – help keep you in place and reduce impact during hard brakes and collisions. They should be in proper condition and be able to lock in place. 
  • Steering wheel – should be easily turned. When turned in one direction, it should be able to go back to the center position. The vehicle should also respond when there are slight changes in the direction of the steering wheel. 
  • Tail lamps and side marker lamps – are used to show your presence on the road. Both should be working in proper condition.
  • Tires – make the car move from one point to another. These should be inspected once a month for pressure and condition. 
  • Windshield – protects you from getting hit by objects on the road. Wipers should clean your windshield without producing sounds against the glass. 

Illegal Vehicle Equipment

Now let’s look at the illegal vehicle equipment in Hawaii: 

  • A bell, siren, or whistle for non-authorized vehicles.
  • A red or blue light in front or at the back of non-authorized vehicles
  • A muffler that makes more noise than the original muffler of the vehicle


So that was everything you need to know about the Hawaii vehicle registration requirements. 

To recap…

You need to register your vehicle within 30 days of transferring to Hawaii or purchasing a vehicle. 

To register, you need to bring all the necessary documents, including a safety inspection report. 

And once a year has passed from your registration, you need to renew it. You can do that online, by mail, or in a DMV office. Whatever you pick, know that it is super easy to complete the renewal. 

Finally, you need to make sure that your vehicle has all the required equipment and does NOT have the illegal vehicle equipment in the state. 

We hope that this article has been a great help!

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