Avoid These 12 Common Mistakes When Shipping a Car to Hawaii

Brantley Kendall

02 Nov 2022 2 years ago

Is a move to Hawaii on the cards for you in the future? You might want to take your car with you and you’ll be pleased to learn that it’s a relatively simple process. That being said, the process of relocating and moving all your belongings to an island that’s several thousand miles away across the ocean is also a challenge that requires some planning If you ever find yourself shipping a car to Hawaii, here are some common mistakes you’ll want to avoid.   

Not Performing Your Due Diligence When Choosing an Auto Transport Company

Type “shipping a car to Hawaii” into your favorite search engine and you’ll realize how many companies there are to choose from. How can you check whether a company is reliable, trustworthy, safe, and a realistic option? Due diligence is something you need to do and that includes checking the following:

  • Whether the auto transport company is insured, bonded, and licensed: An authentic auto transport company will be licensed with the 
  • Read a wide selection of reviews: Check out several of the many online review sites and the Better Business Bureau.
  • Do a thorough background check on the company. 
  • Contact any previous clients of the company: You might get some interesting comments by posting on community forums. 

Don’t be afraid to contact the company and ask various questions. A reputable company will be happy to put your mind to rest and address any concerns. 

Not Requesting More Than One Car Transport Quote

If you want to ensure you’re not paying over the top for your auto transport service it pays to request several auto transport quotes.  Many companies provide a car shipping calculator on their website which makes the process easier. Alternatively, you should be able to call them on the phone and inquire about transport cost to ship a car directly. You’ll be pleased to learn that SAKAEM Logistics has an online car shipping calculator that you’ll find here. Simply provide a few basic details such as:

  • Pick-up city or zip code
  • Delivery city or zip code
  • Preferred method of transportation: Open car shipping vs. enclosed car shipping
  • What type of car do you want to ship and the year of manufacture
  • Whether your vehicle is running or not
  • Preferred date for pick-up

If you’d rather speak directly with a representative, call SAKAEM Logistics at (888) 725-0005. You also have the option of using Live Chat.  

Not Making Sure Your Vehicle is Prepared for the Journey

If you want to ensure the car shipping process is a smooth one there are some things you must do. 

  • Inspect your vehicle before shipping it, making a note of any damage and taking photos.
  • Checking that the level of fuel in the gas tank is not more than one quarter.
  • Make sure the tires are correctly inflated and the fluids are all topped off.
  • Checking that the battery has a full charge. 
  • Removing any toll tags or parking passes.
  • Disabling the alarm.
  • Getting your car checked by a mechanic and having any issues fixed. 
Open car shipping

Choosing an Auto Transport Company With the Lowest Car Shipping Cost

Of course, it’s going to be tempting to pick an auto transport company that offers the lowest price to ship your car. Shipping an expensive asset, such as your car, to Hawaii is going to be expensive, there’s no reason why you should pay more than you have to.  Don’t base your decision solely on price because the cheapest company may be cutting corners. They might also be operating at a less-than-acceptable level.  Another risk is that the company may not be able to recompense you for any damage that occurs to your vehicle during the transportation service.   

Leaving Personal Belongings in Your Vehicle

You’re probably thinking that it’d be a good idea to leave a few personal items in your vehicle. If you’re shipping your car across the United States mainland it’s not always a problem.  However, when you ship your car to Hawaii, no personal belongings are permitted in your vehicle. Make sure you remove all personal items before your car leaves the mainland. Leaving personal items in your vehicle is also a risky thing to do as they won’t be covered by the carrier’s cargo insurance. Your belongings could get damaged during the journey or worse still stolen.  If you need to ship your personal belongings, as well as your car, choose the right way to do it and avoid creating any unnecessary problems.  

Incorrect Documentation

Various documentation is required when you ship your car to Hawaii. Without them, your vehicle won’t be allowed to leave the port on the mainland. Documentation is important because it helps to ensure vehicles are transported to the right destination. It also helps to prevent theft.  

Make sure you have the following documentation available:

  • Registration and title for your vehicle
  • A valid form of ID
  • Lien authorization
  • Proof of insurance 

When the carrier arrives to pick up your car you will have to complete an inspection report along with the driver. In this report, you have the opportunity to note down all damages. The driver will give you a copy, along with a copy of the Bill of Lading. Keep these safe as you’ll need them when your car is delivered in Hawaii. When you collect your car in Hawaii, inspect it carefully and compare its condition with the information you noted in the Bill of Lading and Inspection Report.  Should you notice any further damage, record it on the documentation. This is critical if you need to file a damage claim with the auto transport company. You’ll be unable to claim if you’ve not made a note of the damage and had the driver check it.  


Not Checking Vehicle and License Requirements in Hawaii

When your car arrives in Hawaii there are some things you need to do.  Upon arrival, you have 30 days in which to register your vehicle through the Hawaii Department of Transportation. Before you can start the process, you first have to get a safety inspection certificate for your car. Once you’ve got this, you then have to provide the following documentation:

  • Application form for registering your motor vehicle that you’ve completed and signed
  • Recent out-of-state certificate of vehicle registrations
  • Out-of-state title
  • Shipping receipt or bill of lading
  • Manufacturers confirmation of the vehicle’s weight
  • Tax certification form relating to the use of the motor vehicle

You will also have to pay a registration fee.  If you’re not relocating to Hawaii permanently, you could apply for an out-of-state permit. This must also be completed within 30 days of your vehicle’s arrival. You must provide the following if you want to use this option:

  • Current registration card
  • Out-of-state vehicle permit application
  • Vehicle inspection certificate
  • Shipping receipt or bill of lading

For an out-of-state permit, the fee is just $5.  You should also note that counties in Hawaii have slightly different registration processes. In terms of Hawaiian licensing requirements, the minimum driving age on the islands is 17 years old. The licensing process is a three-stage one, for drivers under the age of 18, it starts with an Instructional Permit that’s valid for one year. Then there is the Provisional License stage, followed by the Full Driver’s License.  If you already have a full license issued in transport to ship a car to another country, you can drive in Hawaii using an International Driver’s License. However, it depends on your type of foreign driver’s license.  

Turning Down the Offer of Insurance Coverage

While the risk of something going wrong is minimal, it’s still important that your vehicle is covered by insurance.  A trusted auto transport company will often offer cargo insurance as part of the price to ship your car. Don’t be tempted to turn down the offer of this coverage because you want to save money.  Always check that your vehicle is completely covered before shipping it. Insurance is your backup, should something go wrong. 

Not Reading and Understanding the Small Print

When your receive your auto transport quotes don’t skip to the bottom and just look at the total price.  Always read the entire quote and be certain that you understand every part of it. In particular, when comparing quotes, check what’s included or excluded.  Some of the items that may not be included in a car transport quote are:

  • Customs clearance
  • Shipping terminal charges
  • Packing materials
  • Port dues
  • Delivery of the vehicle from a Hawaiian port to your final destination

The terms and conditions of your auto transport service will also be listed in the quote. They are never the most exciting things to read, but you must familiarize yourself with them. If you don’t take the time to read and understand them, how are you going to know your responsibilities and understand your rights?  If there is any part of your quote you don’t understand, ask the car shipping company to walk you through the important details. 

Leaving the Carrier to Get On With It

Try to be available when the carrier picks up and delivers your car. Being present is a vital part of the process. Also, stay in touch with the carrier during the shipping process and be there to supervise.  We’re all so busy nowadays that you may be too busy to be present. Don’t leave the carrier to get on with things. Instead, appoint a third party you trust to act on your behalf.  For this to be acceptable, they must be over 18 years of age. It will also be helpful if you explain the process and what they have to do, particularly concerning the inspection side of things.  Before the carrier leaves with your car, make sure they have your contact number so they can inform you should there be any delays. 

Leaving Your Booking Till the Last Minute

There are bound to be times when bookings have to be made at the last minute, but if you can avoid it, you’re more likely to find an auto transport service that meets your requirements exactly and is at a price that suits you.  Leave your booking until a few days before you need to ship your car and you may have to make compromises and pay extra for the privilege.  A general rule of thumb is to allow yourself 2-3 weeks for making the arrangements. This gives the shipping company plenty of time to find the right carrier. It also guarantees a carrier will be available and increases the chance of you receiving your vehicle on a day that you prefer. 

Thinking You Can Drive It to the Port And Make All The Arrangements Yourself

A road trip to Hawaii sounds interesting until you think about all the details and how much planning it would involve. There’s also the extra cost involved that will significantly increase the price. Driving your car to the port and then sailing with it across the ocean is also going to take a considerable amount of time. You can make considerable savings by using an auto transport company like SAKAEM Logistics instead. They’ll take care of all the details and ship your vehicle safely, conveniently, and at an affordable price.


How long does it take to ship a car to Hawaii?

There are more than a few thousand miles between the mainland and any of the Hawaiian islands. You can expect it to take between one and two weeks to cross the ocean. In addition, you have to factor in the time it takes for your car to be transported across the mainland USA. 

Enclosed car shipping

Can I ship a modified, classic, or custom car to Hawaii?

Yes, you can ship all kinds of cars to Hawaii including custom, classic, antique, vintage, and modified cars. However, restrictions do apply, so it’s best to check with our representatives. 

How can I ship my car to Hawaii?

Once your car arrives at a port on the mainland, it will be shipped in a RORO ship or via container shipping. 

Brantley Kendall