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Residents of Hawaii must register their vehicles with their county’s DMV. All vehicles are required to have a registration sticker which must be renewed before expiration.

Sample Hawaii License Plate

Applying for Hawaiian License Plates

Applications for license plates can be made in person at one of the Hawaiian Department of Motor Vehicles branch offices.

Throughout Hawaii, the registration process varies so you’ll have to contact the DMV in your county to obtain the exact documents you need.

In general, you should bring with you:

  • Vehicle title
  • Proof of insurance
  • Valid Identification
  • Payment for fees

When you purchase a vehicle at a dealership, the dealer will help you with the registration of your vehicle. They often provide you with temporary plates and submit your registration forms on your behalf. You can drive off the lost and wait for your license plates to arrive.

If you’re vehicle is from out-of-state, you’ll have 30 days upon your arrival to Hawaii to register your vehicle.

Types of License Plates in Hawaii

You might be familiar with Hawaii’s plate design which has a rainbow on a white background with black characters. This is the standard license plate issued when you register your vehicle.

It is possible to select a customized license plate which represents an organization, occupation, charitable cause, and more.

You may also be eligible for disability placards and plates if you have a temporary or permanent disability.

There is even the option to personalize the characters on your license plates. These are called vanity plates. You can search for possible plate numbers by performing a free online search.

Specialty License Plates in Hawaii

Here’s a list of some of the specialty license plates available in Hawaii.

  • Organizational Plates [$30.50 plate fee + $30.50 renewal]
    • E.g. University Alumni Plates, Humane Society Plates, U.S. Army Support Plates, and many more.
  •  Military Plates [requires application and eligibility]
    • E.g. Combat Veterans Plates, WWII Veterans Plates, Persian Gulf Veterans Plates, and many others.
  • Antique Plates [$10 fee]
    • Available only for vehicles 35 years or more.

There are different plates and decals available in each county throughout Hawaii. Contact your nearest DMV to get an updated list of available specialty license plates.

Remember, specialty plates have different fees and renewal rates than the standard Hawaiian license plates.

Renewing Your License Plates in Hawaii

You’re license plates are only valid until the date printed on your decals. Prior to the expiration date, you should renew your registration either:

  • In person
  • By mail
  • Online

You will likely receive a notification prior to your plates expiring. Expect to wait a week or more for your new decals to arrive in the mail. When you receive them, you can place the new stickers directly over top of the old ones.

Transfer License Plates in Hawaii

You will be able to keep your license plates and transfer them to a new vehicle. There are applicable fees for transferring plates to a new vehicle. Please see fees for licenses plates for more information about transfer fees.

Surrendering Hawaiian License Plates

If you intend to sell, trade, or donate your vehicle and you won’t be purchasing a new vehicle, you are expect to surrender your Hawaiian license plates.

Upgrading your license plate (i..e personalizing or getting a specialized style) or moving to a new state are also reasons to surrender your license plate.

If you’re unsure whether you should surrender your license plates, contact the DMV and tell them your situation.

Stolen License Plates in Hawaii

If you believe your license plates have been stolen, you are obligated to notify the police and create a report. This police report is required for the replacement of your stolen plates.

If your plates are damaged, you do not have to report this. Instead, you can bring in your damaged plates, fill out some forms, and get them replaced.

Please bring the following with you to the DMV:

  • Completed application form for Replacement of Lost or Stolen License Plate
  • Any remaining license plates
  • Valid ID
  • Police report (for stolen plates)
  • Vehicle registration documents
  • Payment for replacement fee

Getting your license plates replaced differs significantly within each county throughout the state of Hawaii. You should contact the DMV for up-to-date details.

Fees for License Plates in Hawaii

As mentioned, the fees vary throughout the state of Hawaii. To give you a general idea of the costs and fees associated with registering your vehicle, here are the fees from from Hawaii county:

  • Taxes
    • State weight:
      • 0 to 4 000 lobs: $0.0175 / lbs
      • 4 001 to 7 000: $0.02 / lbs
      • 7 001 to 10 000 lbs: $0.025 / lbs
      • Over 10 001 lbs: $300 fee
    • County weight:
      • Passenger vehicles (i.e. cars, trucks, vans) up to 6 500 lbs: $0.0125 / lbs
      • All other vehicles over 6 500 lbs: $0.025 / lbs
  • State Registration Fee: $45
  • County Fee: $12
  • Transfer Fee: $5
  • Plate Replacement Fee: $5
  • Decal Renewal: $0.50

You should contact your DMV to get an accurate quote for your vehicle’s registration.

Looking Up License Plates in Hawaii

If you want to find out more information about a vehicle, you can look up license plates online. This search tool allows to find detailed information about a vehicle’s history. You can also use it to search for available license plate numbers.