1. Get Started With License Plate Assistance Online

In most states, you cannot apply for or replace a license plate online. Instead, most states require you to request a new or duplicate license plate in person at a DMV office. However, certain states or counties may allow you to complete these transactions online. In any case, you must apply for a new license plate within a few days of your vehicle’s date of purchase. To do so, you must provide a certificate of title, odometer disclosure, smog certification (if applicable) and bill of sale (if needed). Then, you must pay any applicable DMV service fees. To prepare for this procedure and save time, download our informative online guide. Our guide contains everything you need to know about standard and custom license plates. In it, you will also learn about requesting, renewing and replacing a car registration.

2. By Mail

In most states, you cannot apply for a license plate by mail. However, many states allow you to replace or surrender a license plate by sending the required materials through the mail. When replacing a plate, you will be required to send a completed application form containing personal details and vehicle specifications to the appropriate DMV mailing address. If you wish to surrender an existing license plate after selling your vehicle, you may do so by mailing the plate to the correct DMV branch in your state. Due to mailing and processing times, be mindful that the mail-in method may subject you to certain delays.

3. In Person at a DMV Office

You will most likely need to visit a DMV office in person to apply for a license plate in your state. During your visit, you will be asked to provide proof of identity, documents that verify your car ownership and a completed application form. In addition, you will be required to pay the applicable DMV fees, which vary depending on whether you apply for a standard or personalized license plate. When visiting a DMV, you may also replace or transfer an existing license plate, as long as those procedures are offered in your state. To avoid mistakes or taking additional trips to the DMV, make sure that you are fully prepared for license plate transactions prior to filing your application.


Each individual county has its own policy regarding car registration plates in Hawaii, as there is no statewide Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Instead, each county government issues new registration plates and manages the vehicle registration and titling procedures. On the other hand, many of the regulations and processes to obtain a DMV license plate are similar or the same throughout HI.

As a general rule, all Hawaii car owners must renew license plate and registration credentials on a yearly basis. Moreover, motorists must replace a license plate as soon as it sustains enough damages or goes missing for any reason. To learn more about how to get a license plate in HI, review the information below.

Types of License Plates in Hawaii

In Hawaii, a DMV license plate can be acquired in a variety of ways from different counties. Widely available car registration tags in HI include standard plates, disability plates, organization plates and special plates. Additionally, all car tags in the state must display the proper registration emblem.

Drivers must purchase car registration plates and emblems when they register their vehicles in their county of residence. In addition, car owners may purchase temporary out-of-state permits if they are new to the state and wish to operate a motor vehicle before obtaining a permanent license plate.

How to Apply for a License Plate in Hawaii

The HI DMV license plate application process varies slightly depending on the county. However, vehicle owners must generally apply for new car tags in person at a motor vehicle office if they purchased their cars from a private party or third-party seller. On the other hand, most car dealerships handle the DMV car tag application process for drivers who purchase their vehicles from a licensed dealer. Nonetheless, in order to obtain a license plate, motorists must complete the following steps:

  • In the case of purchasing a vehicle from a dealership, you must verify that the dealer will register and license the vehicle on your behalf. Otherwise, you must apply for a license plate on your own.
  • In the case of purchasing a car from a private seller, you may get a license plate by visiting a motor vehicle office in the county where you reside. Moreover, these offices may go by different names depending on the county where you live.
  • When requesting a new car tag, you must fill out the proper application form and submit it along with proof of completing a vehicle inspection.
  • Regardless of the application procedure you undergo, you must pay for the applicable license plate and registration fees.

Note: If you are applying for Hawaii car registration plates as a new state resident, you must submit the vehicle’s out-of-state certificate of title and registration card, as well as an out-of-state permit application, if applicable.

How to Renew License Plate Tags in Hawaii

Car owners must renew a license plate during the vehicle registration renewal process to maintain driving privileges. However, in Hawaii, the process of renewing license plate stickers and tags varies depending on the county you reside in.

In most cases, drivers may complete the license plate renewal process online, by mail or in person. Generally, drivers are able to renew car tags online if their address is current with their county’s motor vehicle office. If that is the case, vehicle owners do not need to submit any supplemental forms when renewing their tags, such as proof of completing a safety inspection. However, if car owners are not allowed to renew tags online, they must renew in person or by mail. As a reminder of the upcoming HI car tag renewal, the county’s motor vehicle office will send vehicle owners a notice with specific renewal instructions prior to the vehicle registration’s date of expiration.

Note: For motorists wondering how to renew license plate emblems, it is important to note that their renewal procedures also vary slightly by county. Thus, applicants must refer to their registration renewal notices for county-specific instructions.

How to Replace License Plates in Hawaii

Vehicle owners must replace license plate emblems or tags if they sustain damages and/or become illegible. Moreover, these credentials must be replaced if they are stolen or misplaced. On the other hand, the process of replacing a license plate in Hawaii varies by county. In general, drivers must request an HI car tag replacement in person or by mail by completing the proper application form and submitting an acceptable form of payment for the replacement fee. In addition, car owners must submit their vehicle registration certificate and surrender any remaining plates or decals, if available.

Note: If your registration is within 45 days of its expiration date and you are wondering how to replace license plate stickers or tags, it is important to note that motorists must renew their vehicle’s registration materials before they may request a replacement plate and/or sticker. Additionally, motorists must first file a police report if their plates or emblems were stolen from them.

How to Transfer License Plates in Hawaii

Instead of purchasing new registration plates in Hawaii, you may transfer your previous car tag to a new vehicle, if you wish to do so. To transfer your DMV car tags to a new vehicle, you must visit your county’s motor vehicle office, and complete the transfer and vehicle registration process in person.

Hawaii License Plate Fees

Fees for purchasing car registration plates vary by county and type of license plate. Moreover, the weight and usage of a vehicle impact the car tag fees that it qualifies for. Furthermore, there are additional fees for renewing or replacing a license plate in different counties in Hawaii.

In general, most drivers looking to get license plates for passenger vehicles in Hawaii can expect to pay around $5. This is in addition to specific registration fees that apply to cars based on the county of registration and the vehicle details.

License Plate Lookups in Hawaii

Before purchasing a vehicle or applying for new HI registration plates, you may perform an online license plate lookup to learn more about the vehicle’s history, including its previous owner(s), manufacturer and any prior recalls, if applicable. Furthermore, a DMV license plate lookup can provide you with information about the vehicle’s engine type, safety ratings and more.

Last updated on Friday, January 18 2019.

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