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A Motor Vehicle Registration — or more simply, a car registration — connects a car to its owner for identification purposes, and is proof that the car owner has paid the required taxes and obtained the minimum auto insurance coverage required in their state. Each state requires you, by law, to register your car with your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or transportation agency.
The vehicle registration process involves providing some personal information and details on your car and paying a registration fee. If you fail to register your car or renew your registration, you could face penalty fees, a ticket and possibly impoundment.
The most common scenarios wherein you’d need to register a car are:
The Hawaii Department of Transportation’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) oversees vehicle registration in the state. Find out more about car registration in:
In Hawaii, you must register any cars or motor vehicles you own or operate with your county’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
The first time you register your car in Hawaii, you’ll receive a license plate for your vehicle and a registration card. Additionally, you will receive a registration sticker that needs to be attached to your vehicle’s license plate.
When you renew your registration, you’ll receive a new registration card. In Hawaii, drivers are required to keep the registration card with them when operating a vehicle. If you drive a commercial vehicle, you can carry the digital version of the card.
To register a car in Hawaii, you must:
Find out more about the requirements to register a vehicle and the personal information requirements in:
The main difference between a car title (or pink slip) and a car registration is that while the first proves your legal ownership of a vehicle, the second allows your vehicle to be driven on public roads. Both documents are mandatory in all 50 U.S. states.
Unlike the car title, which does not need to be renewed, the car registration has to be renewed every one or two years, depending on the state. In Hawaii, registrations have to be renewed every year.
The car title only needs to be changed when the vehicle is sold and the owner changes, or if you have finished paying the car loan and the vehicle is now officially yours. In these cases, you must complete a transfer of ownership by transferring the title.
Learn more about your car title in Hawaii here.
If you purchase a new or used vehicle at a car dealership in Hawaii, the dealership will handle the vehicle registration on your behalf but will charge the applicable registration fees.
If you purchased a used car from a private seller or are a new resident of the state, you will need to obtain a car registration yourself.
To register your car in Hawaii, complete the following three steps:
Learn what documents and information you need here.
In Hawaii, you must register your car in person. Find your nearest Hawaii County Motor Vehicle Office location in:
The cost to register a vehicle in Hawaii will depend on the type and weight of the vehicle, as well as your county of residence. You can pay the DMV fees in cash, with a check or with a credit card.
If you have questions about the car registration process or require assistance, contact your nearest Hawaii County Motor Vehicle Office location in:
To renew your car registration in Hawaii, complete the following three steps:
Learn about the documents needed to renew your registration here.
To renew your registration online:
To renew your registration in person, find your nearest Hawaii County Motor Vehicle Office location in:
To renew your registration by mail, you must have received a renewal notice in the mail from the Hawaii DMV. Fill out the renewal notice with the required information and mail it to the address listed on the notice.
In addition to standard fees, you will need to pay an online service charge if you choose to renew your registration online.
If you have further questions about the vehicle registration renewal process or require assistance, contact your nearest Hawaii County Motor Vehicle Office location in:
You can visit or call a local County Motor Vehicle Office to check the status of your application or request. Find your nearest local Hawaii County Motor Vehicle Office location and contact information in:
Any missing or stolen vehicle title or registration must be replaced and reported to the local authorities immediately. This includes license plates. You can replace lost or stolen title and registration documents in person or by mail.
To replace documentation in person, find your nearest local Hawaii County Motor Vehicle Office location and contact information in:
To replace documentation by mail, print and complete the Duplicate Hawaii Title Application for your county and send it to the address listed on the form.
If you move to a new address within the state, you will need to update the address on your vehicle registration within 30 days of relocation. You can change your address in person or through the following methods:
Department of Customer Services
Division of Motor Vehicle, Licensing and Permits
P.O. Box 30330
Honolulu, HI 96820
Complete the County of Maui Notice of Change of Address form here and fax to (808) 270-7858 or mail to:
County of Maui Service Center
Division of Motor Vehicle and Licensing
70 E. Kaahumanu Avenue, Suite A-17
Kahului, HI 96732
To change your address in the County of Hawaii, write a letter with the details listed here and mail it to:
Vehicle Registration & Licensing Division
Hilo Driver License
349 Kapiolani Street
Hilo, HI 96720
Complete the County of Kauai Notice of Change of Address form here and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail it to:
Department of Finance
Motor Vehicle Division
4444 Rice Street, Suite A480
Līhuʻe, Hi 96766
If you need to update your name on your registration, you must change your name with the Social Security Administration (SSA) first. Learn more about how to change your name with the SSA here.
After changing your name with the SSA, you must visit a local County Motor Vehicle Office in person to update your registration. You will need documents that confirm the legal name change, such as a marriage or divorce certificate or a court order. Find your nearest local Hawaii County Motor Vehicle Office location and contact information in:
Learn more about changing your name in Hawaii here.
If you have recently moved to Hawaii, you will need to register and title your car with the Hawaii DMV within 30 days of moving to the state. Follow the same car registration steps outlined above to complete the process.
If you have not yet obtained a Hawaii-issued driver’s license or ID card, you will need to provide your Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number with your legal name and address to submit your car registration application.
Learn more about what to expect as a new Hawaii resident here.
If you move out of Hawaii, you will need to register your vehicle in your new state. Your new state may have different requirements for vehicle services. Click here to access your new state’s official DMV website for more information.
The total cost to register or renew your vehicle depends on:
Check out registration fees in:
Any person driving a vehicle without a valid car registration in Hawaii can be fined between $5 and $1,000. Drivers may also face imprisonment for up to a year.
To learn more about Hawaii fines and penalties in 2020, click here.
For help with the car registration process, or for any further questions about your car registration, visit or call a local County Motor Vehicle Office for further assistance. Find your nearest local Hawaii County Motor Vehicle Office location and contact information in:
You can also call the Department of Transportation’s district office for your county at the following customer service phone numbers:
While we are not affiliated with the government in any way, our private company engaged writers to research the car registration process and compiled a guide and the following answers to frequently asked questions. Our goal is to help you get familiar with the process by providing useful information.
Our free Car Registration Guide is filled with helpful information about how to apply, eligibility and how to get in touch with local offices. You can view or download our free guide here.