Title Transfer Hawaii

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If you’re transferring ownership of a vehicle in Hawaii, you must transfer the title. You should be able to complete the process at your county registration office for a fee between $5 and $20, depending on the county.
There are various reasons why you might need to do a title transfer, including if you’re donating, inheriting, buying, or selling a vehicle. But before you hand over your keys, you’ll need to follow the county’s guidelines.
There is no central DMV in the Aloha state. Each county has its own title transfer process, but it generally involves a bit of paperwork, a visit to the county office, and a nominal fee.
It’s important to be compliant with state law. Otherwise, you could be charged penalties. That’s why the car insurance comparison and broker app Jerry is digging into what you need to know about a title transfer in Hawaii.

What is a title transfer?

A car title is what dictates ownership of the vehicle. By transferring a title, you’re transferring the vehicle ownership
To complete a title transfer, there are two steps—one for the seller and one for the buyer:
  • The seller must sign the title to release ownership of the car
  • The buyer must take the signed title to the DMV to get a new title and registration
Not only does every state have a unique process for title transfers, but every county is different, too. For example, someone in Kauai will need to follow a different set of guidelines than someone in Maui. 
Some situations could require extra paperwork depending on your circumstances. 

Who does the title transfer?

The responsibility for the title transfer depends on whether the sale is done privately or through a dealership. 
For private sales, it’s up to the buyer and seller to determine who will complete the title transfer process. Be sure to get everyone’s signatures on the essential paperwork and then submit it within the required 10-day window. 
If you are buying a car from a dealer, you’re off the hook! The dealer will handle all the paperwork and send you the vehicle title by mail.

Reasons for a title transfer

For most people, the reason to file for a title transfer is a change of residency or buying or selling a car. However, one of the following situations may also be cause for a title transfer:
  • Donating a vehicle
  • Gifting a vehicle
  • Inheriting a vehicle
  • Paying off a vehicle loan
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Car title transfer in Hawaii

In Hawaii, the buyer must visit a county office to complete the title transfer process. You usually have 30 days of a change of ownership (or residency) to do a title transfer or else be charged a penalty fee. Be sure to research your county’s specific guidelines.
If the vehicle is already titled in Hawaii, here’s what you will need:
  • The car title with the seller and buyer’s signatures, date, and mileage (on the back)
  • Bill of sale (receipt)
Bring the title, a current certificate of registration, and your Hawaii safety inspection certificate to your county registration office. You can register the vehicle at the same time. In fact, when you sell a car you must notify your county’s registration office within 10 days or risk a $100 fine.
For vehicles being transferred from outside the state, you will need:
  • Out-of-state title signed over to you
  • Shipping receipt showing the date when your vehicle arrived in Hawai’i
  • Current Hawai’i safety inspection certificate
  • Proof that you’ve paid the use tax in the previous state, or a Motor Vehicle Use Tax Certification (Form G-27)
  • Signed and completed Application for Registration Form (based on county)

Title transfer fees

Be aware that if the prior owner’s registration has lapsed (or will expire in 45 days), the buyer is obligated to pay the fee and any back taxes on top of the transfer fee:
  • Hawaii County: $5 transfer fee ($50 late fee is not completed within 30 days of sale)
  • Honolulu County: Visit Honolulu Motor Vehicle Fee Inquiry Site for fees
  • Kauai County: Call (808) 241-4256 for fees
  • Maui County: $20 transfer fee ($50 late fee is not completed within 30 days of sale)
The title transfer fee in Hawaii ranges from $5 to 20. Once you’ve submitted all required documentation, you should receive a new title within 2 to 6 weeks.
Pro Tip The DRIVES e-service online portal will walk you through the Hawaii title transfer process from start to finish—and there’s no lineup!

Registering a car in Hawaii

After a title transfer, you still need to register the vehicle. Registration is proof that you can legally drive on the streets and is done annually in Hawaii. 
Before you can register, you must have a Hawaii title and proof of auto insurance that meets the state minimum coverage requirements. 
Counties calculate the exact title and registration fees based on the age, value, and weight of the vehicle. The base registration fee is $45
Additional weight taxes are levied at the rate of:
  • 1.75 cents per pound up to and including 4,000 lbs.
  • 2.00 cents per pound for vehicles over 4,000 lbs. and up to and including 7,000 lbs.
  • 2.25 cents per profound for vehicles over 7,000 lbs. and up to and including 10,000 lbs.
Vehicles over 10,000 lbs. are taxed at a flat rate of $300.
Other fees may apply based on the type of vehicle, county of residence, or driving record. 

Finding insurance for your vehicle

Don’t have a lapse in coverage. It’s important to have a policy in place as soon as you get behind the wheel—especially if you plan to take on some of the most jaw-dropping (and dangerous) road trips in Hawaii.
Car insurance is required in Hawaii, so make sure you’re covered before doing a title transfer. Try using Jerry, the super app that helps you save time and money on your car expenses, including insurance. It’s simple to use and it unlocks discounts with no extra effort from you. 
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Find a policy you like and Jerry will take care of the paperwork and phone calls. Plus, they send you a new quote every time your policy is up for renewal. This way, you always know you’re getting the best price.
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The title transfer process is a bit more complex. Start by contacting your lender to ask how to sell a car that has a loan and how the transaction should be handled.
Both parties need to sign and there will be a line for each. In Hawaii, you’ll also need to write the mileage on the back of the title.

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