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If you have recently purchased a vehicle through a dealership or a private seller, you will need to apply for a car registration. All vehicles in your possession must be registered in your name to be driven legally in your state. You cannot typically apply for a new vehicle registration online or by mail. You must visit a DMV office in person to register a car. To make sure that you are fully prepared for the process, download our informative digital guide. Our guide contains everything you need to know to register your vehicle with ease. You will also learn how to replace or renew your car registration, and how to change your name or address.

2. By Mail

Some states allow residents to register cars by mail. However, these applicants must meet certain eligibility requirements, such as temporarily residing out of state or having purchased the vehicle out of state. To obtain your new car registration by mail, you will need to send your completed application and all necessary documents (such as proof of ID, a bill of sale, an insurance card, etc.) to your local DMV office. You will also need to send in a check or money order for the full payment amount. Due to mailing and processing times, delays are common with the mail-in application method. It may take several weeks for you to receive your new car registration.

3. In Person at a DMV Office

In most instances, you will be required to get your car registration in person at a local DMV office. You must submit a filled-out application, proof of your identity, evidence of the car purchase and proof of auto insurance coverage for the vehicle. Additionally, you need to provide payment for all applicable fees, such as registration fees, titling fees and state taxes. Because many car owners are not sure which forms are required or which fees must be paid, application delays are common at the DMV. Additionally, any mistakes on DMV forms will add to your potential wait time for receiving your new registration.


A Hawaii vehicle registration is required for all resident-owned vehicles that will be driven on state roads. Despite the fact that an HI DMV registration is required for all vehicles, the process differs based on the resident’s varying circumstances. For instance, residents who have recently moved to the state will have to provide proof of when their vehicles arrived in Hawaii. Conversely, motorists who bought a car from a dealership will usually have the registration paperwork completed on their behalf. Furthermore, drivers who buy used cars through private sales will have to work with the seller to complete the required car registration paperwork.

In this article, you will learn everything there is to know about how to register a car in Hawaii, such as the different costs, documents and procedures that apply for new and used cars being registered in the state. To explore these details and more, keep reading the following sections.

Hawaii Car Registration Requirements

Registering a car in Hawaii can only be done once you have compiled the paperwork and information required during this process. In general, you are not able to apply for an HI car registration online, because the state needs to verify your documentation in person.

In addition, prior to registering your vehicle, you will be required to obtain an auto insurance policy and submit it to a car inspection. Depending on your particular circumstances and vehicle type, the DMV will need to calculate the car registration fees you will be required to pay.

Car Insurance Requirements for Registering a Car in Hawaii

When you register a car in Hawaii, you need to submit proof that the vehicle is insured. This insurance policy needs to cover your car for the entirety of its registration period. Otherwise, you will be required to surrender your state license plates and registration until your car is properly insured. In addition, it is important to note that your insurance card must always be inside your vehicle. In any case, the minimum insurance coverage requirements for the purposes of a vehicle registration include:

  • At least $10,000 for you and your passenger’s medical care. This is known as “Personal Injury Protection” insurance.
  • At least $20,000 for the medical care of each driver and/or passenger in the other car, for a potential maximum of $40,000.
  • At least $10,000 to cover the cost of damage that occurs as the result of an accident.

Vehicle Inspection/Smog Inspection/VIN Inspection Requirements in Hawaii

One of the most important car registration services in Hawaii are vehicle inspections, which serve to ensure that your car is suitable to be driven on state roads. In order to get your vehicle registration, you must have the car inspected. In most cases, this inspection is valid for a year and needs to be continually updated.

On the other hand, Hawaii does not require emissions testing for the purposes of registering a vehicle in the state. Instead, a standard car inspection will focus on whether or not the vehicle can be safely operated. Overall, this type of inspection can be conducted at service stations and car repair locations.

Registering a Vehicle in Hawaii

Despite the fact that you can get a vehicle registration renewal in Hawaii, you cannot register a vehicle online if it has never been registered in the state before. In general, the DMV will need to see all of the required documentation regarding your vehicle in person. Moreover, your car may need to get weighed before a registration fee can be properly assessed.

How to Register a New Car in Hawaii

A new car registration in Hawaii is typically handled by the dealerships from which you buy your car from. If it is not, you will need to print out the proper application form and get it signed by your dealer. You will then need to get a vehicle safety inspection at a service station or car repair location.

In order to pay for a car registration in HI, you will need to visit a DMV office in person. An employee at one of these locations will be able to calculate the exact registration fee you will be required to pay. Overall, this fee is determined based on the weight of your vehicle.

Registering a Used Car in Hawaii

If you purchased your vehicle from a private seller, you may wonder: “How do I know where to register my car in Hawaii?” Generally, you are able to register your vehicle at any DMV office or City Hall location.

During the purchase of the vehicle, its seller should provide you with a signed car title, which will be an important document for vehicle registration purposes. Then, you will need to sign the title. If there are multiple owners, they will all required to sign the document. Sellers will generally also provide you with the car registration form and the vehicle inspection certificate.

In order to fulfill car registration requirements, you will need to submit all three of the aforementioned documents to the DMV within 30 days. Overall, you do not need to schedule an appointment to do so. An additional Hawaii car registration fee of $50 will be added to the cost of a registration procedure if you do not submit all of the required paperwork.

Buyers need to pay a fee in order to transfer ownership of a vehicle, which may become part of the cost of a car registration. Furthermore, you will need to pay with one of the following acceptable payment methods:

  • Cash
  • Money order
  • Check

How to Register a Car in Hawaii as a New Resident

A Hawaii vehicle registration is required for vehicles 30 days after their owners have declared state residency. Below is what you need to register a car in HI if it was previously registered in another state.

  • Title and registration
  • Certificate of safety inspection completed at a Hawaii service station or car repair location
  • A document showing when the vehicle entered the state, such as a bill of lading
  • A completed application form

Through the abovementioned steps, you will be able to either get Hawaii license plates or an out-of-state registration permit. If you will be in HI for more than a year, it is recommended that you obtain license plates, which are more suitable for a prolonged stay.

Vehicle Registration for Military Members in Hawaii

A DMV registration in Hawaii is similar for military service members and civilians who are state residents. However, it is important to note that residents who are military service members do not have to pay taxes on the weight of their vehicles. On that note, this tax exemption may only be applied to one vehicle.

If you are a military service member who is stationed in Hawaii but is not a resident, you will not be required to pay to register your car. Instead, you will need to submit a “Non-Resident Certificate” to the DMV.

Hawaii License Plates

Once you have provided the required documents and vehicle registration details to the Hawaii DMV, you will receive license plates. You may be required to wait anywhere between 60 and 90 days in the event that you have requested special or personalized plates. Overall, the state of HI issues two plates for each vehicle.

Hawaii Car Registration Fees

Motorists often ask, “How much is car registration in Hawaii?” The answer, however, varies depending on the weight of each car, as well as the circumstances of the registration. While only a DMV representative will be able to determine the exact amount you will be required to pay, below you will find some of the circumstances that will affect your car registration costs:

  • $5 to transfer a used car registration
  • $50 late fee if your vehicle is not registered in a timely manner
  • $25 if you submit a bounced check to the DMV
  • $5 for an out-of-state permit
Last updated on Wednesday, November 28 2018.

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