The cost of shipping your car to Hawaii


To ship or not to ship, that is the question. Depends. How much money you have, and how attached you are to your things. I became a lot less attached once I found out the costs involved. Lets talk about your car.

This info is easy to find, and actually very simple. There is a Port to Port cost for the ship, and a truck shipping cost if you have to get it from your house to the Port. First, to ship a standard size vehicle (car, Suv, Pickup) costs from $900 to $1000 from Port to Port, one way of course. You can either drive it to the West Coast Port yourself, or have a transportation company do it for you. Working for a car dealership, we had a website that you posted the job, and got bids from various truckers who needed to fill a load, or were heading that direction and wanted to pick up a paying job. To ship a car to the West Coast from Minnesota was around $800. You can visit your local dealer, and a lot of them will be glad to arrange this for you. Otherwise, if you do it yourself you will probably pay a couple of hundred bucks more. Obviously less if you live closer to the Port, and more if you live farther away. You can also have your car put into the container with your household goods, if you get one big enough.

In order to ship your car by boat, it has to be completely empty of personal belongings, and very little gas, or they will not take it. You will also need a copy of the title, and if you owe money on the car, you will have to have a letter authorizing that you have been approved to take the car off the mainland by the lender.

It take a couple of weeks to get it here, then once you pick it up from the Port, you have 30 days to register the vehicle with the state. You will need to have the car inspected at an independent repair facility before you are able to register it. Most cars, no problem, if you are shipping a junker, then maybe a problem.

Here are the fees right off the Hawaii DMV website:

Vehicle Registration Fees in Hawaii

Vehicle registration fees in Hawaii are based upon your county of residence, vehicle weight, plus taxes and other county/state fees.

You will need to contact your motor vehicle registration office to find out exactly how much you will owe.

Below are some example registration fees for Hawaii County:

  • State fee: $45.
  • County fee: $12.
  • Transfer fee: $5.
  • State weight tax:
    • 0 to 4,000 lbs.: 1.75 cents per lbs.
    • 4,001 to 7,000 lbs.: 2 cents per lbs.
    • 7,001 to 10,000 lbs.: 2.25 cents per lbs.
    • Over 10,001 lbs.: $300 flat rate.
  • County weight tax:
    • Passenger vehicles & trucks up to 6,500 lbs.: 1.25 cents per lb. (minimum of $12).
    • All vehicles over 6,500 lbs.: 2.5 cents per lbs.
  • Beautification fee: $1.
  • Sticker renewal/replacement: $0.50.
  • Plate replacement: $5.
  • Duplicate registration: $5

Let’s figure out what this means. If you are shipping a small SUV or midsize sedan, your vehicle will weigh about 3800 pounds. So here is what it will cost:

State fee-                $  45

County fee-                 12

Transfer fee                 5

State weight tax-       76

County weight tax     47.50

Total                       $185.50

Big vehicles more, small vehicles less.

So now you have about $2000 to ship your vehicle, give or take a few hundred bucks depending on where you live. The plus is that you will have the vehicle you are comfortable driving and won’t have to shop for a new one, the negative is that you will have to do a bit of work, and maybe have to rent another vehicle to drive while yours is being shipped, which will end up costing you more.

We will talk about buying a new or used vehicle in another blog.