How Much are Used Car Sales Taxes in Hawaii?

Buying a used car in Hawaii from a private party can be a great way to save some money. The state of Hawaii doesn’t impose state sales or excise taxes on vehicles bought from a private seller within the state.

You may be off the hook for taxes, but you still need to pay the DMV fees involved with registering and titling the vehicle.

Let’s get into the finer details of what you need to know.

No Sales Taxes When You Buy a Car From a Private Seller in Hawaii

When you buy a motor vehicle in Hawaii from a private party—whether between family members or total strangers—you are exempt from paying sales tax.

Unlike many other US states that impose sales tax on all motor vehicle purchases, Hawaii differentiates between buying a vehicle from a private seller versus a dealer.

Sales tax applies if the sale is considered a “retail sale.” If you go to a car dealer, you will pay 4% of the car’s purchase price in sales tax, plus local tax.

Like in other states, you’ll still have to pay registration, license, and vehicle title fees.

Some Hawaii counties charge a small sales tax, so depending on where you register the vehicle, you may end up paying that, even with a private-party purchase. Check with your county for details.

What is the Hawaii Use Tax?

Use tax is a percentage of a car's purchase price owed to the state of Hawaii when a car is brought into the state for registration.

When purchasing a vehicle out-of-state you will have to pay a 4% use tax when you register the car in Hawaii—even if it’s a private-party transaction. On top of that, you may owe local sales taxes as well.

If you paid sales tax on car purchases in another state, Hawaii deducts that tax so that you are not taxed twice. There are four potential scenarios (leaving out county taxes for simplicity).

1. You paid less than 4%, in which case you will have to pay the difference.
2. You paid exactly 4% sales tax in South Dakota or one of the other states with the same 4% sales tax rate as Hawaii, in which case Hawaii will give you a pass.
3. You paid no sales tax in another state. Let's say you bought a used car in Montana and didn’t pay sales tax, given Montana’s 0% tax rate. You’ll pay Hawaii’s full 4% use tax.
4. You paid more than 4% in the other state (for example, Idaho levies a 6% tax on every used vehicle purchase). We wish we could tell you that Hawaii will give you a refund, but no.

Hawaii Car Use Tax Calculator

If you're buying a car in another state and registering it in Hawaii, you'll want to calculate the applicable use tax. With PrivateAuto's used car sales tax calculator, calculating use tax has never been easier. This free online vehicle use tax calculator calculates the amount of tax you must pay on a used car purchase based on the use tax rate in Hawaii (4%) and the vehicle's price.

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Registration, Title, and License Fees in Hawaii

Beyond the car’s purchase price, you have to factor in registration, title transfer, and license plate fees for your used car.

Hawaii Registration Fees

In Hawaii, you can register your vehicle in person. To make things more efficient, title transfers and car registrations are done simultaneously.

You will need to submit the following documents to your local Hawaii DMV office:

The vehicle’s title
The Hawaii vehicle registration from the previous owner
A current safety inspection certificate
Payment for the vehicle registration transfer fee of $5

Here are the standard Hawaii vehicle registration fees:

State fee: $45
County fee: $12
Transfer fee: $5
State weight tax:
0 to 4,000 lbs.: 1.75 cents per lb
4,001 to 7,000 lbs.: 2 cents per lb
7,001 to 10,000 lbs.: 2.25 cents per lb
Over 10,001 lbs.: $300 flat rate
County weight tax:
Passenger vehicles and trucks up to 6,500 lbs pay 1.25 cents per lb
All vehicles over 6,500 lbs pay 2.5 cents per lb
Beautification fee: $1
Electric, plug-in hybrid, alternative fuel, or hybrid vehicles fee: $15
Sticker renewal/replacement: $0.50
Plate replacement: $5
Duplicate registration: $5

To avoid paying a late fee or penalties, make sure you register the car right after transferring the title.

Hawaii Title Fees

In the state of Hawaii, titling and registration are done at the same time. When purchasing a used car, you will need to provide your local DMV office with additional paperwork, including:

The vehicle title with your signature and driver's license number
Payment for the car title transfer fee of $5

When you purchase a car from a private party, you will be required to complete the title transfer within 30 business days. If you don't meet that deadline, you will have to pay a fee of $50.

See our guide to transferring a Hawaii car title for more information on the process.

Hawaii License Plate Fees

Standard Hawaii license plates cost $45. A standard Hawaii license plate can be put on passenger cars, business cars, motorcycles, permanent trailers, trailer coaches, and park trailers.

Personalized plates, also known as vanity plates, cost $60. To apply for vanity license plates, you must appear in person at your local DMV.

Is Purchasing a Car from a Dealer Better?

Many people believe that buying a car from a Hawaii dealer will save them money. Going to a Hawaii dealer is more expensive.

You pay Hawaii’s 4% sales tax when you buy from a dealer—but not when you buy from a private seller.
Dealerships charge documentation fees above and beyond all the other Hawaii taxes and fees you have to pay (the other taxes and fees are exactly the same whether you buy from a dealer or a private seller, by the way). An average documentation fee in Hawaii is $250.
Used car dealerships typically have higher prices. Their business model is built around buying low and selling high to generate the spread that allows them to stay in business. To get the best deals, avoid the middleman and deal directly with private sellers.

We admit that dealers provide a level of convenience that you do not typically get when buying from a private seller. That is, after all, why we exist. PrivateAuto puts dealer-like convenience in the palm of your hand while also allowing you to transact with regular people like yourself.

When you shop for used vehicles from private parties on PrivateAuto, you avoid the doc fee and get lower prices.

Sell or Buy a Vehicle Online With PrivateAuto

We are the only transactional marketplace where you can buy and sell used vehicles safely and conveniently.
Shop used cars for sale by owner.

Our innovative platform connects buyers and sellers and gives them all the tools to complete the deal, from in-app financing to secure messaging to integrated payments via our banking gateway, PrivateAuto Pay. You can also schedule a test drive and negotiate the price without ever disclosing your personal information.

Here are the steps to sell your car in Hawaii.

1. Gather the required paperwork for selling a vehicle in Hawaii
2. Register on PrivateAuto and get verified
3. List your car
4. Set your terms
5. Vet incoming offers
6. Choose a buyer
7. Schedule a meeting
8. E-sign documents
9. Get paid, instantly with PrivateAuto Pay
10. Transfer title

Hawaii Car Taxes FAQ

Which states have the lowest car sales tax rates?

The states with the cheapest car tax are Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon, with a tax rate of zero. Alongside Hawaii, Nevada has a zero tax rate on private-party car sales, but not on dealership purchases.

With the exception of the above states, all US states charge sales tax on private sales. Oklahoma, North Dakota, North Carolina, Colorado, Wyoming, and Alabama charge 4.5% or less vehicle sales tax.

What are the cheapest states to buy a vehicle?

Is a safety inspection required in Hawaii?

How much does it cost to register an out-of-state vehicle?