Shipping a Car to or from Hawaii: Everything You Need to Know

Brantley Kendall

31 Mar 2022 2 years ago

Hawaii is an island chain located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The islands offer a wide variety of activities and beautiful scenery. Hawaii has become one of the most popular destinations for tourists looking to escape their busy lives and relax. For many, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

The Aloha State is one of the most beautiful places on Earth, and if you’re moving there or just taking an extended vacation, perhaps the last thing on your mind is how you’ll get your car there. But, don’t let fears of what you’ve heard about the cost and process of car transport in Hawaii scare you away. Shipping a car is quite simple, and you just need to know what to expect.

Many different factors go into figuring out how to get your car from point A to point B. For example, you might want to know the size and weight limit for vehicles entering or leaving Hawaii. You should also know what paperwork you need to bring with you—the route, how much to transport a car to Hawaii, etc. You’ll find all of this information and more right here in this article. So just keep reading.

Different Ways to Ship a Car To or From Hawaii

Hawaii is a U.S. state and an island chain in the Pacific Ocean. It’s no surprise that Hawaii residents need to transport their vehicles on occasion, whether for vacation or business travel. However, shipping a vehicle from Hawaii to the Mainland United States involves crossing the Pacific Ocean and requires careful planning. Whether you’re shipping a car from New York to Honolulu or vice-versa, there are two standard options for transporting your vehicle: boat shipping or RO-RO and container shipping. Each of these transportation methods comes with its advantages and disadvantages. If you are wondering how to transport my car to Hawaii, here’s a quick list of all the available options.

Roll-On/Roll-Off Shipping

The most common method of shipping your vehicle over to Hawaii is Roll On/Roll Off shipping. This is where your car gets driven onto a transport vessel and then driven off when it arrives at the destination port. The vehicle has to be in running condition so that the shipping company can drive on and off the transport vessel.

 The shipping company does the loading and unloading operations only during calm weather. If dockside conditions permit, cranes move the container sideways onto a ship or alongside for land transfer and faster access for chauffeurs, facilitating quicker turnover. 

 Auto-shippers provide containers for cars loaded onto cargo ships at a primary port (usually a container terminal or dock at a significant port) for overseas shipping. Not all ships are equipped with this loading system, so it’s crucial to find out if there’s one available before booking the shipment for transporting a car from Hawaii (and vice versa). Remember, you need your vehicle transported to the West Coast first to avail of this shipping facility.  

You can expect your vehicle to arrive at its destination between five and ten days after it’s shipped out, though this estimate can vary depending on which port you’re shipping from and what company you choose.

Container Shipping

Container Shipping is the safest, most affordable, and most efficient way to ship a vehicle, or multiple vehicles, to Hawaii. You can also ship personal belongings in your container. Container shipping is designed for customers who want to move their vehicle and household belongings together, rather than having to ship them separately.

This shipping method allows you to ship your vehicle in a shared 20 ft or 40 ft container, along with other cars being shipped by other owners simultaneously. The standard size of a 20-foot container is 8 ft wide and 8 ft 6 inches in height, while a 40-foot container measures 8 feet wide and 9 feet 6 inches in height. However, if you have particular requirements in terms of size, it may be due to your vehicle’s dimensions, then talk with a representative at your transporting company.

The benefit of this method is that your car will not be exposed to outside elements during shipment. The disadvantage of container shipping is that cost to transport the car to Hawaii is more than other methods, such as roll-on/roll-off shipping. Shipping costs are determined by how much space your vehicle takes up in a container, also known as chargeable volume weight or cubic feet (CFT).

Using Air Transport

While the best way to ship a car to or from Hawaii is via a roll-on-roll-off ship, the other option for car transport in Hawaii is to fly it. Shipping a car to or from Hawaii by air is convenient, safe, and expensive. However, if you have a luxury car or other high-end vehicle, transporting it by air can be more cost-effective than having an international carrier ship it in cargo containers on a boat. Your vehicle will arrive much faster than ocean transport as well.

Airlines use standard cargo containers to move vehicles in the cargo hold of their planes. The most significant risk involved in air transport is damage done by handling equipment at airports and freight terminals.

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Different Car Shipping Services to and from Hawaii

There are two services to transport your car to or from Hawaii. Open carrier transport and enclosed carrier transport. Which service you choose depends on your budget and the condition of your vehicle.

Open Carrier Auto Transport

Open carrier auto transport is the most common method of shipping a car to or from Hawaii for people concerned about the cost or wondering how much to transport a car to Hawaii. These carriers can hold 10-12 vehicles on average and are open on all sides. This means the vehicle will be in plain view while traveling along the highway. While this option is less expensive than enclosed auto transport, it does leave the car vulnerable to external elements such as debris. However, most reputable companies will ensure their open carriers against damage and theft, so this should not be a cause for concern. If you plan to ship your car to other state from Hawaii, open carrier transport is an excellent option.

Enclosed Carrier Transport

Enclosed carrier transport is where your vehicle is transported inside an enclosed trailer. Enclosed carriers provide extra protection because they surround your car and protect it from any outside elements that may come in contact with it during transport. This option is more expensive than open transport and provides your vehicle with extra security and protection from outside elements such as rain, wind, snow, hail, dirt, and debris. If you’re shipping a new vehicle or a classic car that requires special protection from elements, this service will give you peace of mind that your car will be safely and securely delivered without damage from road debris.

Different Options to Transport your Car From and To Hawaii

When shipping your car to or from Hawaii, you have two options. You can choose between door to port and port to port shipping. With the first option, your vehicle will be picked up at your residence then shipped to a port on the mainland, where it will be stored until it arrives in Hawaii. The second option involves dropping off your car at a mainland port then picking it up in Hawaii once it comes. Both of these options have their advantages and disadvantages. Let’s discuss them below.

Door to Port Shipping

Door-to-port shipping means you don’t have to worry about driving long distances or paying overpriced airfare only for your vehicle. At the same time, you can choose for your car or any other type of vehicle to be delivered directly to your home address in Hawaii or on the U.S. mainland.

When you choose a door to port shipping service for car transport in Hawaii, the shipping company will transport your vehicle to or from the closest container terminal. Once there, they will assign a career who will then transport your vehicle to the port in Hawaii. The professionals will load it into a shipping container by a crane designed explicitly for loading cars onto containers.

 It is put onto a ship bound for the mainland, where the shippers will unload it at a terminal in California or Hawaii. Another carrier will pick up your vehicle and take it to the terminal of your choice.

To get your vehicle from the port in Hawaii, you’ll need to have a transporter deliver it from the port to your home or business. You can arrange this through the transport company or on your own.

This method is best for anyone who does not have easy access to a nearby port but still wants their vehicle shipped directly from the mainland to Hawaii’s ports.

Port to Port Shipping

Port to port shipping is the most basic and inexpensive option for transporting your car from or to Hawaii. With this option, you drop your vehicle off at a designated terminal and pick it up at another one. The transport service will usually provide free short-term storage for your car, and you also can store your vehicle longer for a small fee.

Port-to-port shipping is the best option if you’re trying to save money on shipping your vehicle and don’t mind driving before dropping off or picking up your car. Depending on where you live in the mainland United States, it could save you hundreds of dollars compared to door to port shipping. The transport company will cover all transportation details once your car gets onto the boat.

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Shipping a car to or from Hawaii can be a hectic process without the proper information. Fortunately, shipping companies like SAKAEM Logistics can help you plan an excellent shipping location. There are five major ports in Hawaii, including Honolulu, Kahului, Nawiliwili, Hilo, and Kaunakakai. The two most popular ports for car transport in Hawaii are Honolulu and Kahului. Here’s why:

  • Honolulu is the busiest port in Hawaii and is located on the island of Oahu. It has plenty of infrastructures, including docks, ramps, cranes, etc. The port also has direct rail service to the mainland United States and beyond. This makes it easy to get your vehicle shipped to you.
  • Kahului is located on Maui Island. This island is the eighth largest among the Hawaiian islands. Although Kahului isn’t as big as Honolulu, it still has plenty of infrastructure that can ship cars there without any problems. 

Below is a list of popular ports of entry for shipping your car from the mainland United States:

  • Honolulu, Oahu Island
  • Kahului, Maui Island
  • Hilo, Big Island
  • Kawaihae, Big Island

How Much Does It Cost To Ship A Car To Or From Hawaii?

So, how much to transport a car to Hawaii? The final cost of shipping a vehicle to or from Hawaii will depend on several factors. These factors include the distance, type of service, carrier pricing, and weight. Some of these factors are out of your control, but others can be modified before booking a shipment. Here’s how:

 The Type of Carrier 

Two carrier types can transport your car to Hawaii – RORO (Roll on Roll Off) and container shipping. The first one is the cheapest option, but it also has several limitations. The other one is more expensive but also provides space for luggage and the car.

Size and Weight

The weight of your vehicle also affects cost. If your car is heavier, it will cost more to ship than if it is lighter. This is because it takes more power and fuel for the transport company to move your vehicle across the ocean. If your car weighs more, you might be charged higher fees by some carriers. For instance, some car transport companies charge an extra $50 per 100 pounds overweight.

Time of Year 

 The time of year when you are shipping your vehicle can also impact the cost. During peak seasons, you may pay more for shipping services than during off-peak times of the year. For example, suppose you are shipping during the summer or winter holidays. In that case, the cost to transport the car to Hawaii will be more because many people take vacations during these times and look for auto transport companies.

Type of Transportation

The type of transportation used can also affect the price to ship your vehicle. Open-air carriers are cheaper than enclosed carriers because they can carry more cars at one time, reducing the per-vehicle cost.

The Distance between Origin and Destination 

More specifically, the ocean’s distance between the two points of origin and destination is what matters here. If you ship your car from Los Angeles to Hawaii, you won’t pay as much as you would if you were shipping from New York.

 Special Services

Special services that you request, such as door-to-door delivery, will increase the cost over standard terminal-to-terminal delivery service when transporting a car from Hawaii (and vice versa).

Want to know how much it costs to ship a car with SAKAEM?

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How Long Does It Take To Ship A Car To Hawaii (And Vice Versa)?

The decision to ship a car to Hawaii or vice versa is very personal and not one that we recommend making without first considering all of the factors involved. Shipping your car, truck, or SUV to or from Hawaii can be done on any significant, reputable carrier delivering vehicles to and from the islands. If you are planning to transport my car from Hawaii, the following things will determine how long it will take for your vehicle to be shipped to or from Hawaii:

Type of Vehicle

The type of vehicle you are shipping will determine how long it takes to ship your car to/from Hawaii. Why? Depending on your type of vehicle and its dimensions, it might be more challenging or more accessible for the carriers to load and unload them than other cars. For example, shipping a truck with a trailer attached will take the transport company more time loading and unloading than a regular sedan that is lighter and smaller in size.


Your vehicle’s destination is another factor that can determine transit times when shipping a car to/from Hawaii. The routes used by carriers when shipping cars between Hawaii and the mainland are long. It takes over 10-15 days to deliver vehicles from the mainland ports of California, Oregon, or Hawaii State to Honolulu, Kauai, or Maui ports.

 Availability of Transport Carriers

 Most people don’t realize that only a handful of companies ship vehicles to Hawaii from the mainland United States with regularity. This means that there aren’t many slots available for people who want their cars shipped at any given time. The fact that there aren’t many slots available means there may be a waiting period before they can ship your vehicle, which can increase the time it takes your car to reach its destination.


High winds may prevent carriers from loading/unloading vehicles on top of the ship. Unexpected storm activity may delay ships from arriving at the port on schedule (or at all) or hinder them from departing the port. This can be caused by lightning strikes, high winds, excessive rain, etc., affecting departure and arrival ports.

 How Does The Process Of Shipping A Car From Hawaii Work? 

When it comes to shipping a car from Hawaii, you will want to make sure that you are fully prepared for the process. Since the process is much more complicated than just driving there and back, you will want to make sure that you are using someone fully trained for the job. Here are a few things you should know about the auto transport process when shipping from Hawaii (and vice versa).

Getting a Quote and Booking

The first step for car transport in Hawaii is getting a quote and booking your transportation. While you can do it online or through your broker, you will want to make sure that you check with several different companies before making your final decision. You can call each company directly and get their rates and details on what they offer. This can be time-consuming, but it will give you the most accurate information on what each company offers and how much they charge. You can also fill out the quick, easy form on the shipping company’s website and receive quotes in minutes.

When getting quotes, keep in mind that all companies should be quoting based on the same information. Never pay for additional services you don’t need and never use services you don’t need for your shipment.

Preparing the Vehicle

Before shipping from Hawaii to the mainland:

  1. Take a few minutes to clean out your car. This includes removing any personal items, as well as any loose parts such as detachable stereos and speakers.
  2. Clean the vehicle to ensure that rust and dirt aren’t hiding any dents or scratches that must be identified before it goes into transport.
  3. Remove all antennas, spoilers, fog lights, and other exterior accessories that could break off or damage during transportation.
  4. Ensure your vehicle is in good working order by checking the tire pressure, oil, water, and battery levels before getting it into transport.
  5. Ensure that your gas tank is no more than 1/4 full.

This helps keep transport costs down and reduces fire risk during transport.

Vehicle Pick Up

This is when the transport company for transporting a car from Hawaii sends a carrier to the location of your vehicle and loads it onto the car carrier. You need to schedule the pickup in advance, so the shipping company will contact you with times that work best for their carriers. During the pickup, they need to inspect your vehicle for any preexisting damages so that they can document them. They also need to take pictures of the condition of your car before it is loaded onto the carrier to show any potential damages during shipment. It’s essential that you also inspect your vehicle after it has been picked up and before it is loaded onto the carrier. It is to ensure that all conditions have been recorded.

Vehicle Delivery

Finally, you are all set to receive your vehicle in the U.S. mainland or Hawaii. Once your vehicle reaches its destination, the shipping company will inform you. Ensure to inspect your vehicle thoroughly for any damages caused during the transit. This is a crucial step to ensure you receive your vehicle intact and in the condition, you handed it over to the transport company at the origin.

Want to know how much it costs to ship a car with SAKAEM?

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Documents Needed To Ship a Car To or From Hawaii

Bill of Lading

A Bill of Lading (BOL) (shipping contract between you and the auto shipping company) must be completed and signed by all parties before they can load any vehicle onto an auto transport trailer or container.

Current title

 A clear title is required to ship a vehicle. Suppose financed shipping companies may ask for the lienholder’s name, address, and phone. If you do not have your most recent title, you will want to contact the Department of Motor Vehicles in the state that you are shipping your car from.

 A Notarized Letter of Authorization

If someone other than the registered owner will be shipping the car, you will have to have a notarized authorization letter. If there is more than one owner, you will have to have a letter of authorization from each owner.

Other Documents

  • A Government-Issued Photo ID
  • Power of attorney for a financed or leased vehicle
  • Vehicle keys and the remote of the alarm system
  • The confirmation number

How to Find the Best Auto Transport Company to Ship a Car to and from Hawaii?

Auto transport to and from Hawaii is a specialized service, and you need to do your research before choosing the company that will get your vehicle there safely and on time. Here are tips for finding the best auto transport company for car transport in Hawaii.

Book Ahead

The more time you have before your car has to be shipped, the better because you have more time to shop and compare different quotes. Even if you only have a few weeks before your car needs to be shipped, booking ahead will allow you to avoid paying extra money for an expedited shipping order.

Compare Quotes

It’s important for consumers looking for auto transport services in Hawaii to compare at least three quotes before choosing a company. Auto transport rates can vary by hundreds of dollars between companies, so it’s essential to compare rates and services before deciding.

Checkout Company’s Website

Before finalizing an auto transport company, visit their website to check out how long they have been in business and what kind of services they offer. Some top-rated auto transporters offer both open-air and enclosed container shipping services for vehicles.

Check Their Reputation On The Better Business Bureau

The BBB is a great way to check each companies’ track record with customers. You can see how many complaints they’ve had, how they’ve been resolved, and their overall rating. The BBB has a very straightforward grading scale, making it easy to see if they are worth hiring.

Ask Them About Their Insurance Coverage

Experienced and reputable car shipping companies will have no problem providing you with proof of insurance before you even hire them. They should also have no problem answering any questions you may have about their coverage or what happens if something does go wrong during your shipment.

FAQs Regarding Shipping A Car To Hawaii

What are the benefits of choosing Hawaii Car Transport?

There are many benefits of choosing a car transport company to ship your car to and from Hawaii. They have a team that is trained and prepared for any scenario. They’re insured and bonded and will always go the extra mile to ensure your vehicle is loaded safely without any damage.

How do I get a shipping quote, and how long is the quote valid?

You can get a quote by entering your shipping information, such as vehicle type, mode of transport, and zip code. It will give you the cost of freight and time. The duration of the quote depends entirely on the service provided – each provider sets its validity period for shipping quotes, from one day to a week from the date of request. The shipping company will clearly state the validity period in the quote email you receive from the company.

Should I Be Present At The Time Of Pick Up And Delivery?

If you can’t be present, it’s a good idea to have someone there to meet the carrier. You can take help from your friend or relative, so they sign on behalf of your company and drive the car onto the truck. Whoever is there will let the driver know that you cannot be there for pickup or delivery and sign off for your vehicle.

How do I know when the car will arrive at its destination?

You will be informed by the carrier when to expect delivery of your vehicle, and you also have tracking options with some car transport companies. This will help you track your vehicle as it travels to its destination.

How Can I Pay For The Auto Transport Service?

The payment methods for an auto transport service vary from company to company. Some companies require total payment upfront, while others will only ask for a deposit. There are many ways to pay for an auto transport service, and the most common method of payment is debit and credit card. You can also use PayPal and net banking.

Does Insurance Cover My Car During Transit?

A good vehicle transport company will provide insurance to cover your vehicle during transit. The level of coverage depends on the company, but it’s important to know what types of coverage are available and whether they are adequate for your needs.

Pros and Cons of Moving To Hawaii

There’s no doubt that a move to Hawaii would significantly change for most people. There are many things about life in Hawaii that are noticeably different from the U.S. mainland, and these differences can be both good and bad. Here’s a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of moving to Hawaii:


  • The weather is amazing
  • It’s an excellent place for families
  • You can be active year-round
  • There are so many job opportunities (especially in tourism)
  • You can live off the grid!
  • There are so many gorgeous beaches
  • The people are friendly and laid back


  • The cost of living is high in Hawaii.
  • Traffic Jams on Weekends & Holidays
  • Hawaii’s weather can be scorching
  • Hurricanes are common during hot seasons

Want to know how much it costs to ship a car with SAKAEM?

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Brantley Kendall