Sea Shore with Parked Cars

7 Important Factors of Auto Transport to Hawaii


If you ever find yourself moving to a new location you’ll soon discover that it comes with a long list of things to do. You’ve got utilities to organize, ensure that the Postal Services know your new address, secure a new driver’s license, make new friends and find your way around your new locale. 

If you’re moving to Hawaii it’s no different. But there’s one thing that can ease the transition and that’s having a car to get around in. 

You probably already own a car but have you thought about taking it with you? Let’s start this post with one of the most important questions.

Should I take my car with me to Hawaii? 

Typically, there will be some things you want to sell when you move to Hawaii, but should your car be one of those things? 

To help you answer this question, there are a few things you should consider:

  • How old is your car? If you’re planning to drive your car for several more years, then auto shipping to Hawaii is the answer. However, if you’re thinking about replacing it in a couple of years, selling it before you move might make your moving budget stretch a little further. 
  • What kind of car is best for the islands? The car you’ve enjoyed owning and driving around in Texas might not suit an island life. For everyday drives, you’re not going to need the 4WD capability. However, if you’re planning some off-road adventures, you’re probably going to need a vehicle that can handle rough terrain.
  • What vehicles are available on the island you’re moving to? Spend some time researching car prices on your chosen island. There are likely to be new and used car dealerships and you should be able to access prices online. 

What is the most cost-effective way to ship your car?

As you might expect, you have a couple of options when it comes to transporting a car to Hawaii. 

Drive it to the port and pick it up in Hawaii

If your budget is tight, this is by far the cheapest option, as long as you live near one of the ports that ships to Hawaii. Long Beach and San Diego are two examples. 

You can drive your car to the port where a shipping company will put it on a ship, most likely a RORO (roll-on, roll-off) ship. 

If you don’t live near a port on the West Coast, there is a better option. 

Hire someone to transport your car to a port

While the do-it-yourself might seem like the cheaper option, there are additional costs you have to factor in. factor in extra costs such as your time, accommodation, gas, and a return flight, and it’s probably going to be cheaper to hire someone to get your car to the port for you. This is particularly relevant if you live on the East Coast. 

Choose a company like SGT Auto Transport, for your Hawaii car transport needs. We can arrange for a carrier to pick up your car from a convenient location on the mainland, drive it to a port city, and make sure it’s loaded onto a ship. When your car arrives in Hawaii, you have to be there to collect it.  

What documentation is required?

When it comes to shipping your car to Hawaii, there are some important documents you’ll need:

  • Vehicle title or lien holder authorization. If the title lists multiple owners, all parties must be present to authorize the shipping of the car. If one part is unavailable, the other party will need a notarized letter giving permission for the move. If you’re still paying off the car, you’ll also need a letter of authorization from the lien holder to move the car to Hawaii. 
  • Current vehicle registration.
  • Picture ID that matches the name on the title and registration.

How do I get my car ready?

To ensure your car transport to Hawaii is a smooth experience, there are some things you can do to get your car ready for the journey. For example:

  • Make sure the car’s gas tank is no more than 1/4 full when it’s time to ship your car
  • Disconnect the alarm system on your vehicle, if it has one. Alternatively, you could disconnect the battery before shipment. 
  • There should be no personal items left in your vehicle.
  • Remove any accessories such as a bike or ski racks, steering wheel locks, tailgate nets, stereos, and portable radios.
  • It’s also a good idea to make sure you’ve got two sets of keys. One set will go with the car and the second set will stay with you. 

What if your car is a classic, custom, or specialty car?

If you want to take your pride and joy with you when you move to Hawaii, it’s going to need some special handling. There are Hawaii auto shipping companies that specialize in shipping high-value cars. SGT Auto Transport is one example. 

Registering your car

Once your vehicle arrives in Hawaii you have 30 days in which to register it in your new home county. You have two options:

  • Get Hawaii plates and an in-state registration
  • Get an out-of-state permit to operate your vehicle and use your current plates and registration. This permit is only valid for one year, after which you need to renew it or get Hawaii plates. 

For both options, you have to show your car shipping receipt and buy Hawaii car insurance. In addition, your car will have to pass an inspection. 

Getting a Hawaii driver’s license

Getting a Hawaii driver’s license is easy, as long as your out-of-state license is current. You simply take it to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). You will also need to take your social security card and pay the required fee. 

Part of the process requires you to take an eye exam and a written test. Make sure you take your glasses with you if you need them. It’s also a good idea to look up local vehicle operating laws. 

If you have pre-existing medical conditions, you’ll need to submit a medical exam form when you apply for your license.

One final note: make sure you know the rules of the road before you drive. Something you’ll discover is that people tend to drive much slower on the islands. In addition, allow plenty of time when traveling, until you get more familiar with the routes you travel often. 

Speed limits are clearly posted, but you’ll need to keep a look out for winding roads, single-lane roads, and roads without any numbered exits. Embrace the aloha spirit when out on the highway and always give a wave when someone gives you the right of way.  


How much does it cost to ship a car to Hawaii?

How much auto transport to Hawaii costs depends on several things. Factors that can affect the overall cost include where you are on the mainland, what type of car you want to ship to Hawaii, and the time of year. 

If you want to know how much it will cost to transport your car to Hawaii, use our online quote calculator. Alternatively, speak directly with our shipping advisors by calling (864) 546-5038 or use our Live Chat

Can I ship my car to Hawaii with stuff in it?

You are not permitted to leave personal items in your car when you transport it on a ship. However, if your car is shipped in a cargo container, there may be an option to ship some items as well. 

Is it better to ship my car to Hawaii or buy one when I get there?

Unless you were already planning to buy a new car, there’s no reason why you should buy one in Hawaii. Take your car with you and it’ll be a lot less hassle. 

Is it worth shipping a car to Hawaii?

If you’re only staying in Hawaii for a short while, you’ll be able to lease a car while you’re there. However, if you’re relocating for much longer, it’s definitely worth shipping your car to Hawaii. 

What can I do about shipping my car to Hawaii if I’m in the military?

If you’re a member of the military, the same options for civilians apply. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that the government may cover the cost of shipping one vehicle. There may be limitations, so check to make sure your vehicle is covered. 

Are cars expensive to buy in Hawaii?

Cars are not necessarily more expensive in Hawaii. However, what can be more expensive are the taxes. They vary from state to state, so check to see what impact it will have on your decision. 

Do cars rust more in Hawaii?

Rust can be more of a problem in Hawaii. It rains more than most people think. In addition, the humidity and air contain higher levels of moisture due to the islands' close proximity to the ocean. If you have any further questions you want to ask or would like to discuss our Hawaii auto shipping prices, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can speak directly with our shipping advisors by calling (864) 546-5038 or using our Live Chat option.  

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