Auto Shipping to Hawaii

Shipping to Hawai’i? Read on.


If you’re one of the many thousands to make the trip to and from Hawai’i each year, then you’re probably aware that the two main options for shipping a car to the island are by sea and by plane. Unless you’re wanting to transport a luxury or exotic vehicle, shipping by sea is the most popular option.


To ship a car to Hawai’i, your shipping broker will arrange that an auto transport company load your vehicle onto a trailer at your chosen pick-up location and to then deliver it to one of several ports on the West Coast (such as Seattle, San Diego, Oakland or Long Beach). Your vehicle will then be transferred onto a boat and shipped across the Pacific to your port of choice.

To ship a vehicle from Hawai’i, the process is reversed. You would need to drop off your vehicle at a port (either Honolulu, Nāwiliili Harbor, Kahului or Kawaihae). Once it reaches your chosen port on the Mainland, it will them be loaded onto a car hauler and delivered to your door.

The step-by-step process

  1. Get a quote: gather a few quotes from reputable auto shipping companies that have experience in shipping from port to port
  2. Book your shipment
  3. Get your vehicle ready for shipping
    • Prepare the following documentation
      • Booking Confirmation Sheet
      • Valid Drivers License
      • Current Registration
      • Vehicle Title
      • Lien Holder’s Permission (if your vehicle is financed or leased)
      • Proof of Insurance (not always required)
      • Contact Information for Consignee
    • Remove all personal items from the vehicle. Only manufacturer installed items and permanent factory installed items can remain. Below are examples of the types of items that must be removed, if you’re unsure of any items installed in your vehicle, it’s best to enquire when booking your shipment.
      • All personal items and documents
      • Loose radios, compact disc players
      • CD’s
      • Portable telephones of any type
      • Power boosters
      • Equalizers
      • Radar scanners
      • Extra speakers or amplifiers
      • Decorative ornaments
      • Auto protective covers and screens
      • Truck tailgate nets
      • Auto roof racks if not factory installed
      • Remove or disengage theft alarm systems
      • Remove or disable toll tags
    • Clean the exterior of your vehicle. A visual inspection of your vehicle is performed to take note of any pre-existing damage. This will be recorded in the Bill of Lading.
    • Ensure that your gas tank is only 1/4 full. Electric vehicles must have fully charged batteries. This is to comply with fire safety regulations while still allowing for your vehicle to be driven on and off the carrier as necessary.
    • Remove all fire extinguishers and empty all auxiliary propane tanks, should your vehicle carry them. Federal regulations do not permit fire extinguishers to be shipped with your vehicle. Any propane tanks must be free of any liquid or fumes and must be tagged and certified as ‘gas free’ by an authorized propane dealership or service company.
    • Disable your alarm or leave instructions for transport personnel for how to operate it. Should your alarm be activated during transport, the transporter will take any steps necessary to deactivate it.
    • Take photos to record both the interior and exterior condition of your vehicle prior to pickup. If possible, make sure to activate the date and time stamp feature in your camera. These photos will serve as proof of any damage incurred during transport.

4. Carrier loads your vehicle and transports it to the designated load port. Your Overland Carrier will then hand over your vehicle to an Ocean Transport Carrier or to be shipped as regular freight, depending on your arrangements.

5. Receive your vehicle at the designated port in Hawai’i. Be sure to inspect your vehicle thoroughly and to make note of any damage in the bill of lading prior to leaving the terminal. We also recommend that you record the condition of your vehicle, once again, with date and time stamped digital photographs. Though vehicle damage is rare, all damage claims will rely on proof; your Bill of Lading and photographs are highly important in this regard.


How long will it take to ship?

Depending on your pick-up and delivery locations, a one way trip could take between two to four weeks. Port-to-Port shipping is faster than door-to-door, door-to-port or port-to-door shipping. Longer distances often require more than one mode of transport and/or Carrier Company. As such, it is always recommended to go with a Shipping Broker. Brokers are better equipped to arrange complex logistical planning, on your behalf, with multiple transporters.

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