11 Things You Need to Know If You are Shipping a Car to Hawaii

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5 min to read

Shipping a car to Hawaii is easy, provided you know what you need to do to get your vehicle from the mainland to the islands and what you need to do to drive it legally and safely once it arrives. This is true whether you’re relocating to Hawaii permanently or just for a short period because Hawaii car shipping works the same way in either case.  

At Montway, we’ve been helping people ship cars to the islands and back to the mainland for many years, and so we understand that when our customers are shipping cars to Hawaii, they want to know they’re doing it right. We put together this post just for people who are thinking about shipping a car to Hawaii or getting ready to book a shipment. It outlines everything you need to know about Hawaii car transport so you can get your vehicle where it needs to go, safely and on time.  

Your choice of auto transport company matters… a lot

Shipping a car to Hawaii will only be a simple and stress-free experience if you work with an established company with a reputation for both transparency and for doing a great job. When you ship with Montway, we can make the process of shipping a car to Hawaii easy, smooth, and successful by taking the main responsibilities of auto transport off your plate.  

End-to-end service from an auto transport management company is the best choice 

Shipping a car to Hawaii means your vehicle will spend time on both a truck and on a boat, and timing both shipments can get complicated. You don’t have to worry about coordinating ground transport and sea transport or dealing with multiple companies when you’re working with an end-to-end auto transport management company like Montway. We handle everything, and you can even get information about where your car is and when it’s expected to arrive over the phone or via our LiveChat system. 

Shipping a car to Hawaii is a four-step process  

Montway offers door-to-port service at a great price for its customers shipping cars to Hawaii, and there are only four easy steps from booking to pick up at the port! 

Step 1 — Booking 

You can use our instant quote calculator to get a free, no-obligation quote and then book your transport right there in the calculator. You can also book via our LiveChat or over the phone if you feel more comfortable talking to a person. No matter what, you won’t pay any money until you have a pickup date.  

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Our car shipping advisors are available by calling (888) 666-8929 to answer all your questions.

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Step 2 — Prepping 

Before shipping a car to Hawaii, you’ll need to wash it thoroughly (inside and out), remove all personal items from the interior and truck, disable your car’s alarm if you don’t have a remote, double check that your car’s tires are fully inflated, and drive it until the gas tank is just a quarter full. A lot of people will also get a quick tune-up before their ship date to ensure that the brakes and the battery are fully functional, though this isn’t required. 

Step 3 — Handing it off 

On the day you hand off your car to your trucker (or drop it off at port if you prefer to drive there yourself), you’ll sign off on a short inspection and hand over your keys. That’s it! There’s no extra paperwork you need to do to ship a car to Hawaii.  

Step 4 — Picking it up 

Your car will be inspected again at the port in Hawaii, and after that, you can drive it away. All you need to bring with you is your booking confirmation number and your vessel booking number, which we will give you once your shipment is scheduled.  

The cost to ship a car to Hawaii varies

When you’re shipping a car to Hawaii, the price you’re quoted will depend on several factors. Our online quote calculator uses the make and model of your car, the distance your vehicle will travel to or from the port, the transport type (e.g., open carrier shipping or enclosed carrier shipping), and how quickly you need to ship to generate your quote. The cost to ship a car to Hawaii may be higher if your car has been heavily modified or is especially valuable.  

In general, shipping a car from Long Beach, CA to Lihue costs about $1,200 but shipping that same car from Boston, MA to Kauai will cost around $2,300 and from Miami, FL to Kauai will cost about $2,000. The only way to find out exactly how much it will cost to get your car from your home to the islands is to get a quote.  

Schedule your shipment a month before the date you plan to move

Timing is everything when you’re relocating, so to be sure your car will get where it needs to go when you need it to be there, book your shipment at least one month in advance of your preferred delivery date. That way your auto transport management company will be able to easily find an open spot for your car on both a truck and a cargo ship in the timeframe you specify.  

Shipping times are estimates 

Customers frequently ask us how long it will take to ship a car from the mainland to the islands, and the answer is that shipping times vary.  While the journey from the port in California to the port in Hawaii can take up to two weeks, your car also has to make the journey from your home to the port – which can take a week or more, depending on your location.  

In general, if you’re shipping a car to Hawaii from the east coast, it will probably arrive in about three weeks after it is picked up by your trucker. When you get your ship date, you’ll also get an estimated arrival window. Just keep in mind that your car may arrive earlier or later than expected. 

You can’t ship personal items in your car

We understand that it would be convenient to use your car as a shipping container when you’re relocating, but it just isn’t allowed. The reason you can’t leave any personal items in your car during its journey is that personal items represent a potential safety issue and a definite liability issue.  

Play it by the rules when you’re shipping a car to Hawaii. When your car is inspected at the port, any personal items left in your vehicle will be removed before it is loaded onto the ship. And if workers can’t remove them? Your car will be rejected at the port and you’ll have to scramble to book a new shipment.  

You’ll need to register your car within 30 days of its arrival

If you’re relocating to Hawaii, your vehicle will need to be registered in your new home county within a month. You can either get Hawaii plates and an in-state registration or get an out of state permit to operate your vehicle using your current plates and registration. This permit will be valid for a year. To do either, you’ll also need to show your car shipping receipt and buy Hawaii auto insurance and your car will need to pass an inspection.  

Getting a Hawaii driver’s license is easy

As long as your out of state license is current, you can simply exchange it for a Hawaii license by bringing it, your social security card, and the required fee to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). You will need to take an eye exam and a written test, so bring your glasses if you have them and consider looking up vehicle operating laws that are specific to the islands before you go. Note: If you have a pre-existing medical condition, you’ll also need to submit a medical exam form when you apply for your license. 

Know the rules of the road before you drive

A lot of people new to driving in Hawaii discover that people drive much more slowly on the islands. Give yourself plenty of time to get where you need to go until you get more familiar with the routes you’ll drive every day. While you will see plenty of posted speed limits, you’ll also encounter winding roads, single-lane roads, and roads without any numbered exits. The best thing you can do is drive with the aloha spirit in mind and always give a wave (or throw out a shaka) when someone gives you the right of way.  

Shipping a car back to the mainland is somewhat different 

While most of what you’ll need to do if you decide to ship your car from Hawaii back to the mainland will be the same, you’ll need to bring the following with you to port in addition to your keys: 

  • A government-issued picture ID 
  • A copy of your car’s title and current registration 
  • Your Montway order confirmation and vessel booking number 
  • A notarized letter on official letterhead from any title or lien holder authorizing the shipment 
  • Notarized proof of power of attorney from any second owner listed on the title  

Some people who move to Hawaii make the choice to leave their old car behind and buy a new one on the islands, but the fact is that shipping a car to Hawaii will almost always be less expensive (and simpler, too) than buying a new one.  

When you’re relocating to the islands and you choose Montway for Hawaii car transport, we handle everything related to your vehicle transport so you can focus on moving your belongings and getting your household settled. We may only be able to take one thing off your very full plate, but it’s one of the big ones and we’re happy to help.  

Are you planning on shipping a car to Hawaii? Contact us today for a free shipping quote and check out what our customers are saying about their experiences with Montway at Montway Auto Transport reviews. 

Ready to transport your car with Montway?

Our car shipping advisors are available by calling (888) 666-8929 to answer all your questions.

Get an instant quote
Get an instant quote


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