How to Ship a Car to Hawaii: The Best Guide

If you’re planning a move to Hawaii, you might wonder if it’s worth it to ship a car to Hawaii!

What about shipping your current car, motorcycle, or boat to Hawaii? Should you just replace it once you’re living in Hawaii?

The answer depends on several factors, let’s jump right in.

ship a car to hawaii image on ship of cars

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

If you live on the West Coast of the U.S. mainland: It costs a little over $1,000 to ship an average-sized car from Washington, Oregon, or California to Hawaii.

If you don’t live on the West Coast: You’ll need to factor in the additional costs of driving your vehicle to a West Coast port, or paying the shipping company to transport the car to the port for you. For example, Pasha charges $2,247 if you drop off your car at its Edison, New Jersey terminal and pick it up on Oahu, Maui, or the Big Island.

If you live outside the U.S.: You must follow the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s rules for importing cars to the U.S. International vehicle shipments can be prohibitively expensive. For example, Matson charges $4,567 to ship a car from Guam to Honolulu.

considering sunset

Things to consider before shipping your car to Hawaii

How big is your vehicle?

If your vehicle is over 21 feet 8 inches long, or 8 feet wide, or 7 feet high (e.g., a large truck, SUV, RV, or boat), expect to pay more than the standard shipping rate. Some shipping companies also require the vehicle to have 4-5 inches of ground clearance underneath it.

What is your vehicle currently worth?

Check Kelley Blue Book to determine its current market value. Is your vehicle worth the cost of shipping it?

Are you leasing the vehicle?

If a lienholder is named on your vehicle registration (i.e., you’re financing or leasing your vehicle), you might be required to get a letter from the lien holder granting permission to ship the vehicle to Hawaii — whether this is required depends on the shipping company you use and where you’re shipping the vehicle from.

If you are leasing your vehicle, you might have a difficult time getting permission from your lien holder, and you might have to buy the vehicle in order to ship it to Hawaii. (One exception: If you are a military member, you shouldn’t have any problem getting permission.)

NOTE: If you are financing your vehicle toward eventual ownership, you should have no problem getting permission, as long as you’re up-to-date on your payments.

How much would a replacement vehicle cost in Hawaii?

New cars are generally more expensive to buy in Hawaii than on the U.S. mainland. Used cars can be found inexpensively but must be selected carefully, as they can suffer damage from exposure to saltwater, intense sunlight, and humidity.

Whether or not to ship a

Who ships your vehicle?

There are a number of shipping carriers and brokers that transport vehicles overseas from the U.S. mainland to Hawaii, including: Montway Auto Transport, Pasha Hawaii, Horizon Lines, and Matson (see comparison table below).

You may run across other companies offering vehicle shipping services to Hawaii — they are brokers who act as middlemen, and in most instances, your vehicle will end up getting shipped by Pasha, Horizon, or Matson.

WARNING: If you do decide to book your shipment through a broker, first check their record with the Better Business Bureau, otherwise you risk having your money and vehicle stolen by a scam artist posing as a shipping broker.

If you need only interisland shipping (from one Hawaiian Island to another) there are 2 carriers that offer this: Pasha Hawaii and Young Brothers (see comparison table below).

No matter which carrier/broker you choose, the general procedure for shipping your vehicle is the same.

Steps for shipping a car to Hawaii

  1. Make a reservation (usually required) to drop off your vehicle at the port.
  2. Before you bring your vehicle to the port, ensure it’s clean and not leaking any fluids, otherwise, the carrier might refuse to ship it. It’s also a good idea to wax your vehicle’s exterior, to prevent any rust damage from exposure to salty air and water.
  3. Remove everything from the vehicle that wasn’t factory installed, including any after-market roof rack or stereo/speakers. The only things allowed to remain in the vehicle are child car seats and a spare tire/jack.
  4. Disconnect your car alarm (if you have one) to prevent your car battery from draining during shipment.
  5. When dropping off your vehicle at the port, bring:
    1. Proof of booking reservation (whatever your carrier requires)
    2. Valid drivers license
    3. Vehicle registration (must still be current)
    4. Title or bill of sale, or other proof of ownership (check with your carrier to see if they require this)
    5. Lien holder’s permission to ship vehicle, if you’re leasing or financing the vehicle (check with your carrier to see if they require this)
    6. Proof of insurance (required by Young Brothers only)
    7. Copies of your keys to all parts of the vehicle (ignition, trunk, glove compartment, gas cap, etc.) — it’s recommended that you keep your original set of keys
    8. Contact info for consignee (the person who will be picking up the vehicle)
  6. Make a reservation (usually required) to pick up your vehicle at the port.
  7. When picking up your vehicle at the port, bring:
    1. Proof of vehicle’s arrival (whatever your carrier requires)
    2. Valid drivers license
  8. Save your shipping receipt (also known as a “bill of lading”), which shows the date your pick up your vehicle. You’ll need this to register your vehicle in Hawaii.
  9. Purchase no-fault insurance (required in Hawaii) for your vehicle.
  10. Take your vehicle to a Periodic Motor Vehicle Inspection (PMVI) station (usually found at Hawaii gas stations and auto repair shops) for a state-required safety inspection. (NOTE: You will need proof of Hawaii vehicle insurance before you can do this.) Here’s a list of PMVI stations on Oahu.
  11. Within 30 days of picking up your vehicle from the port, register it with the county that you now live in.

Comparing Shipping Carriers

Montway Auto TransportPasha HawaiiHorizon LinesMatsonYoung Brothers
Departure PortsLos Angeles, CA, San Diego, CA,
Oakland, CA, Tacoma, WA, Honolulu,
HI, Lihue, HI, Hilo, HI, Molokai, HI, Kahului, HI
Every 2 weeks from:
– Hayward, CA
– Covina, CA
– San Diego, CA
– Oahu, HI
Twice weekly from:
– Anchorage, AK
– Kodiak, AKWeekly from:
– Dutch Harbor, AK
– Tacoma, WA
– Oakland, CA
– Long Beach, CABy special arrangement from:
– San Diego, CA (motorcycles only)
– Guam
– Saipan
– virtually anywhere in the world
Weekly from:
– Seattle, WA
– Guam
– SaipanTwice weekly from:
– Oakland, CA
– Long Beach, CA
3 days/week between Oahu &:
– MauiTwice weekly between Oahu &:
– Hilo (Big Island)
– Kawaihae (Big Island)
– Kauai
– MolokaiWeekly between Oahu and:
– Lana’i
Other Drop-Off TerminalsMultiple drop off locations on
mainland and Hawaii islands
15 on mainland100 on mainlandNANA
Direct-Arrival PortsLos Angeles, CA, San Diego, CA, Oakland, CA,
Tacoma, WA, Honolulu, HI, Lihue, HI, Hilo, HI,
Molokai, HI, Kahului, HI
Oahu
Maui
Hilo (
Big Island)OahuOahuFrom any neighbor island:
– OahuFrom Oahu:
– All neighbor island ports
Arrival Ports Requiring Connecting Barge Service From OahuN/AKauai
Molokai
Lana’i
All neighbor island portsMaui
Hilo (Big Island)
KauaiNo service to:
– Kawaihae (Big Island)
– Molokai
– Lana’i
All neighbor island ports
Number of Days You’ll Be Without VehicleVaries depending of service requested and
location of pick up and delivery
Mainland-Hawaii service:
– 16 from Oakland, CA
– 15 from Covina, CA
– 13 from San Diego, CA
– 2 more days to Kauai, Molokai, or Lana’iInter-island service from Oahu:
– 5 to Maui
– 6 to Hilo (Big Island)
From Anchorage, AK:
– 24 to Oahu
– 25 to Molokai or Lana’i
– 26 to Big Island or KauaiFrom Kodiak, AK:
– 25 to Oahu
– 26 to Molokai or Lana’i
– 27 to Big Island or KauaiFrom Dutch Harbor, AK:
– 26 to Oahu
– 27 to Molokai or Lana’i
– 28 to Big Island or KauaiFrom Tacoma, WA:
– 14 to Oahu
– 15 to Molokai or Lana’i
– 16 to Big Island or Kauai
– 19 to MauiFrom Oakland, CA:
– 9 to Oahu
– 10 to Molokai or Lana’i
– 11 to Big Island or Kauai
– 14 to MauiFrom Long Beach, CA:
– 9 to Oahu
– 13 to Kawaihae (Big Island)
– 14 to Hilo (Big Island), Maui, Kauai, Molokai, or Lana’i
14-21 from West Coast2 between Oahu & neighbor island
3-4 between two neighbor islands
1 more day to/from Big Island
Shipping MethodClosed container, ROROFully enclosed ship with roll-on/roll-off service (except for connecting barge service from Oahu to Kauai, Molokai, Lana’i)Closed containerVessel garages or specialized vehicle frames (vehicle not usually in closed container)Open barge
Premium Services OfferedPort-to-port or door-to-port shipping servicesVehicle pick-up from 15 mainland terminals or from any mainland residenceVehicle pickup & deliveryVehicle pickup & delivery, “Guaranteed Availability,” vessel of choiceAlternative shipping methods (e.g., roll-on/roll-off, on-platform)
When Oversized-Vehicle Fees ApplyOversized vehicles require custom quotesIf over 21’8″L, 8’W, 7’HIf over 21’L, 7’W, 7’HFrom Oakland, CA & Long Beach, CA:
If over 21’8″L, 8’W, 7’HFrom Seattle, WA:
If over 21’8″L, 7’W, 6’3″HFrom Guam & Saipan:
If over 17’6″L, 7’W, 8’H
If over 20’L, 8’W, 7’H
Or if less than 5″ ground clearance
underneath
Post-Arrival Storage FeesDifferent depending on location$25/day after grace period, which varies depending on port location5 free days after ship’s arrival2-4 business days free; $6-$19/day thereafter, depending on length of storage2 business days free; $18/day thereafter
Included LiabilityYesUp to $10,000Up to $5,000Up to $1,000 per cubic foot of vehicle (around $8,000 for average-sized car)Up to $5,000
Non-Operational Vehicles OK?Yes, at specific locationsYes, for $150 feeNoNoNo
Other RestrictionsHaving ¼ tank of gasoline or less 1. When a vehicle is shipped TO Hawaii from the mainland, no extra paperwork is required.
2. However, when a vehicle is shipped FROM Hawaii to the mainland, owners must provide the following paperwork:

a. If the vehicle is financed or a lease, the drop-off party must have a letter from the lien holder releasing the vehicle for transportation to the mainland on official letterhead and this must be notarized. Note: All notarized letters will only be valid for up to 30 days from the issue stamp date.

b. For cars and trucks that are owned outright, a copy of the title and current registration must be with the vehicle for it to ship.

c. The owner listed on the title of the vehicle must be the shipper, and they will be required to show a photo ID and proof of ownership.

d. If there are two owners listed on the title of the vehicle, both of the vehicle owners must be present with a photo ID or notarized consent from the owner who is not present.
Motorcycle drop-off at San Diego port only6″ ground clearance required underneath vehicle
Motorcycles depart from San Diego port only
Gas tank can’t be more than 1/4 full
No motorcycles
No cracked/damaged windows or windshields
Gas tank can’t be more than 1/4 full
Proof of insurance required to ship vehicle
Gas tank can’t be more than 1/4 full
Carrier Also Ships Household Items?NoNoYesYesYes
Online Quotes, Booking & Tracking Available?YesYesTracking onlyYesNo
SHIPPING COST FOR STANDARD-SIZED CAR / MOTORCYCLE:
Alaska To HawaiiYesNA~$2,300 / ~$2,600NANA
Guam To OahuYesNA~$4,500 / —$4,567 / NANA
Saipan To OahuNoNA~$5,700 / —$5,791 / NANA
West Coast To OahuYes$1,072 / $544~$1,175 / ~$890$1,097 / NANA
West Coast To MauiYes$1,072 / $544~$1,175 / ~$890$1,097 / NANA
West Coast To Hilo (Big Island)Yes$1,072 / $544~$1,175 / ~$890$1,097 / NANA
West Coast To Kawaihae (Big Island)YesNA~$1,175 / ~$890NANA
West Coast To KauaiYes$1,174 / $791~$1,175 / ~$890$1,097 / NANA
West Coast To MolokaiYes$1,274 / $891~$1,175 / ~$890NANA
West Coast To Lana’iYes$1,274 / $891~$1,175 / ~$890NANA
Oahu To MauiYes$166-$292, depending on weight / $114NANA$165-$291, depending on weight / $131
Oahu To Hilo (Big Island)Yes$185-$327, depending on weight / $114NANA$185-$326, depending on weight / $131
Oahu To Kawaihae (Big Island)YesNANANA$185-326, depending on weight / $131
Oahu To KauaiYesNANANA$165-$291, depending on weight / $131
Oahu To MolokaiYesNANANA$165-$291, depending on weight / $121
Oahu To Lana’iYesNANANA$165-$291, depending on weight / $121

NA = not applicable; = unknown; ~ = approximately; = feet; = inches; L = length; W = width; H = height; mainland = continental U.S.; West Coast = the U.S. states of Washington, Oregon, and California; Oahu port = Honolulu; neighbor island ports = Kahului (Maui), Hilo (Big Island), Kawaihae (Big Island), Nawiliwili (Kauai), Kaunakakai (Molokai), Kaumalapau (Lana’i).

2022 UPDATE: Montway Auto Transport has been added to the table above as an auto carrier that provides services from almost all states to Hawaii as well as to and from Hawaiian islands!

Final Thoughts

Shipping a car to Hawaii isn’t the easiest thing to do, BUT for many it might just work out easier than buying a car when you arrive.

Depending on where you’re going to live it might be worth considering whether a car is necessary and if you can get away without having a car you can always rent one when you need one.

Thanks for reading and if you have any questions let us know!