In order to prove ownership of a vehicle, there must be a title in the owner’s name. For vehicles that aren’t paid off, the lender will hold the title and provide a certificate for the owner to use. However, for cars that are paid off, the owner will have the physical title. This title needs to be transferred when ownership changes – the car is sold, given as a gift, or inherited. Transferring a car title in Hawaii is pretty simple, but a few steps need to be followed.
Buyers in Hawaii
For buyers in Hawaii purchasing a car from a private seller, the following steps need to be completed:
- Make sure that the seller signs and dates the title.
- Make sure that the seller writes down the odometer reading on the back of the title.
- Sign and date the title.
- Make sure that the seller provides you with a bill of sale.
- If there has not been one completed recently, have the car inspected for safety and a new certificate issued.
- Notify your county office within 10 days of the purchase.
- Visit your county office and pay the required fees. Fees vary depending on where you’re located in Hawaii, and are as follows:
- Maui - $10 for the transfer fee
- Honolulu – Use the DMV website to determine your fees
- Hawaii - $5 for the transfer fee
- Kauai – Call 808-241-4256 to determine the amount
- Not having the seller provide a lien release
- Not ensuring that the seller completes the back of the title
- Not notifying the DMV of the purchase within 30 days (which will actually require an additional $50 late fee)
Sellers in Hawaii
Like buyers, sellers also need to follow a few steps to transfer a car title in Hawaii. These include:
- Sign, date, and add the mileage to the back of the title.
- Make sure that any joint owner also signs the title.
- Make sure that the buyer fills in the appropriate sections on the title.
- Provide the buyer with the current registration certificate and safety inspection certificate.
- Provide a Notice of Transfer (Hawaii County only).
Gifting and inheriting
The state of Hawaii allows you to transfer ownership of a vehicle to a family member as a gift. Doing so will require the same steps as selling/buying a vehicle, and the new owner will be responsible for the title transfer fee. However, they do not have to pay a use tax on the car. They will need to complete a Motor Vehicle Use Tax Certification form.
For inherited vehicles, you will need to provide proof of insurance, the current registration, a safety inspection certificate, and an Affidavit for Collection of Personal Property of the Decedent. Make sure to bring the death certificate with you to the DMV office.
For more information about how to transfer a car title in Hawaii, visit the state’s Department of Customer Services website, as there is no central DMV office.