How to Ship a Car To Hawaii

Most of the time you can drive your car to wherever you move, but that’s not the case if you’re heading off to Hawaii. There’s that whole pesky ocean to cross, so you have to find a way to have your car shipped. It’s a slightly more complicated process than simply shipping a car across land. Here’s everything you need to know about how to ship a car to Hawaii.

How Does Car Shipping to Hawaii Work?

The first step in shipping a car to Hawaii is securing a transport company that can pick up your car wherever you are on the mainland. It could be your home, your workplace, or even a designated parking lot. That company will then load your car onto a trailer and get it to a shipping port on the west coast.

There are multiple ports from which your car could then go to Hawaii. Options in California include Long Beach, Oakland, and San Diego. There are also ports in Seattle and Tacoma, Washington that can take your car the rest of the way to Hawaii.

Once at the port, your car is transferred to a boat for its trip across the ocean to the island and port of your choosing in Hawaii.

Preparing Your Car to Ship to Hawaii

You can’t ship anything in your car, so don’t think of it as free transport for your belongings. There may be exceptions if you’re shipping your car in a cargo container, so ask what, if anything, your carrier will allow in the car before you pack it full of stuff.

Your vehicle must be in working condition. It also needs to have no more than a quarter of a tank of gas in the interest of safety.

There are also documents required when you ship a car from the mainland to Hawaii. These include your vehicle title and registration. You will need a government-issued ID if you are planning to drive it directly to the port of departure. Leased or financed cars require a letter of authorization or power of attorney. Additionally, if there is more than one person on the title and they’re not all at the port, you need a notarized letter from them giving permission to ship the car.

What Are My Options for Shipping to Hawaii?

The first step is to get your car to a port on the west coast. You don’t have to use a shipping company that ships to Hawaii for this leg of the trip, however it may be easier to find one company that will take it door-to-door for you.

The key is to find a reputable company that’s fully insured. Search out consumer reviews and if everyone seems to have problems with a shipper, then perhaps you want to move along to the next one. Things to consider when picking a shipper are whether they use an open or closed transport, ease of pickup and delivery, and timing. Especially if you’re not using one shipper for the whole trip, be sure the car will be delivered to the departure port in time to make the ship’s departure.

How Much Does It Cost to Ship a Car to Hawaii?

The overall distance that you’re shipping your car will have a big impact on your total cost. It may also cost more to ship certain cars, especially highly collectible, classic or luxury vehicles. Choosing an open transport trailer versus a closed transport trailer for the land portion of the trip will save money. However, that also opens your car up to the elements and all the dirt and grime of the road.

We looked at reputable transport companies to see what they’d charge to ship an average sedan from New York City to Honolulu. Open transport options ranged from $2,000 to nearly $4,000. Closed transport options were much more expensive ranging from $3,000 to a whopping $8,000. There’s clearly a wide range of prices so it’s in your best interest to get multiple quotes and consider not just the cost, but exactly how your car will be shipped and how quickly it will arrive in Hawaii.

How Long Does It Take to Ship a Car to Hawaii?

First, consider where you are on the mainland. If you’re on the east coast, then there’s a good week or so of travel time to get your car to the west coast. If you’re closer, then you can shave a few days off that time. Also consider the time of year. Winter weather can cause all sorts of delays.

Shipping time across the ocean adds another one to three weeks. There’s a lot of ocean between the mainland and Hawaii. That means the possibility of rough weather conditions that will slow your overall transit time. Recommended Companies The chart below lists reputable shipping companies and the online quotes they provided to ship a sedan in an open transport from New York City to Honolulu. Think of this as a guide, but don’t expect the exact same figures. Your vehicle, where you live, and the timing of your delivery all impact the total cost.

CompanyCar Talk's ReviewQuote


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

This all depends on where you are on the mainland, the car you’re shipping, and the time of year. Pricing ranges from a low of around $2,000 and can go up as high as $8,000 for a sedan.

Can I ship my car to Hawaii with stuff in it?

Personal items may not be left in a car if you transport it on a ship. If you end up using a cargo container, then some items may be allowed.

Should I ship my car to Hawaii or buy one there?

Unless you were about to buy a new car anyway, there’s no reason to buy one in Hawaii rather than shipping your existing car.

Is it worth shipping a car to Hawaii?

If you’re only in Hawaii for a week or two, then it’s obviously not worth the hassle or cost. If you’re relocating for a longer period of time, then it’s worth the effort and will save on car rental costs.

How do I ship my car to Hawaii if I’m in the military?

You can use the same methods as a civilian, but the government will cover the cost of one vehicle. There are some limitations, so check to be sure that the vehicle you want to ship is covered. Read more on Military Car Shipping.

Are cars more expensive to buy in Hawaii?

You won’t pay more to buy a car just because you’re in Hawaii. Taxes, however, vary greatly from state-to-state so check to see how much of an impact that may have on your purchase decision.

Editor's note and disclaimer: Car Talk is supported by our fans, readers and listeners. When you click on some of the links on our website, we may receive referral compensation. However, you should know that the recommendations we make are based on our independent editorial review and analyses.