FAQs About Shipping to Hawaii

If you’re looking to move to Hawaii, it might seem a bit daunting to think about how you will move all your belongings, but it doesn’t have to be too complicated. Below are some of the most frequently asked questions about moving and shipping your things to Hawaii. If you have a question that isn’t below, please feel free to ask in the comments.

  1. What do I need to bring with me when I move to Hawaii?
  2. What is the best way to ship things to Hawaii?
  3. Is there anything that is illegal or can’t be shipped to Hawaii?
  4. How realistic is it to share a shipping container to Hawaii?
  5. How long does it take to ship your belongings to Hawaii?
  6. How much does it cost to ship your belongings to Hawaii?
  7. What’s the best time of year to move to Hawaii?
  8. What is the cheapest way to ship to Hawaii?
  9. What’s the fastest way to ship household goods to Hawaii?

Sink your toes in the sand and forget about everything else for awhile…

1. What do I need to bring with me when I move to Hawaii?

It’s understandably hard to know what to get rid of and what to keep when you’re talking about moving to an island. A lot of things you use on the Mainland, or in different parts of the world, may not really be necessary in Hawaii. Hawaii living emphasizes simplicity and getting by with less.

It’s good to know that several homes and rentals in Hawaii do come completely furnished (a lot even have everything down to cookware), as this benefits both locals and newcomers, so keep that in mind when deciding on what you will bring.

Shipping your belongings to Hawaii can be quite the process, so make sure to really go through everything and only bring the things you need. Everything you keep will have to be packed and will take up space in a shipping container to Hawaii (which will add to the cost of moving), so that may play a leading role in whether or not you want to keep it.

This is important information to know because you will need to have some sort of idea how much stuff you will be bringing with you before you can get a quote from a shipping or freight forwarding company, or before you can decide on which kind of shipping container you will need. (See Step 2: Decide on a Plan of Action for more on this subject.)

Only you will know exactly what you and your family really need, but there are some things that will just make island life easier if you have them. They include:

  • A car – Remember, depending on your car, it may be more cost effective to buy a car on the island, or it may be cheaper shipping your car to Hawaii.
  • Your pet(s) – You need to start preparing your pets for the move at least 4 months ahead of your arrival
  • Warm clothing – Yes, really. Let’s face it, Hawaii doesn’t have the greatest selection of places to buy warm clothing. Lightweight jackets and jeans should be sufficient.
  • Family valuables
  • Important documents
  • Hard to replace items – favorite recliner chair, bicycle, etc.

In Hawaii, adventure is around every corner

2. What is the best way to ship my household goods to Hawaii?

Obviously, because Hawaii is a group of islands surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, you only have a few options when it comes to getting your belongings to the islands. They include:

  • Shipping Container/Crate/Barge/Pods
  • Post Office/Mail Services such as Fedex, USPS, & UPS

The most popular way to move items to Hawaii is transporting them by ship. If you will be moving an entire household over, or you are not in too big of a rush to have all of your things, it is best to use a shipping company, like Matson. This is the most affordable way to get large items and several items over here.

However, if you will be moving over with very little, you may want to consider shipping it through the mail. This will allow you to get your possessions over here in a reasonable amount of time, sometimes in as little as 3 days. If you live in the continental U.S., you can send items via USPS, FedEx, and UPS. USPS is the cheapest and UPS shipping rates are the most expensive. By mailing your items, you are able to get them here in as little as 3-6 days, and you can track and insure your packages.

Basically, it will be more affordable to ship your belongings to Hawaii, while mailing them will be more expensive. You could also ship the less important items and mail the more important ones.

3. Is there anything that’s illegal, or can’t be shipped to Hawaii?

Yes. There are a few things that cannot be shipped to Hawaii.

  • Certain animals (invasive species)
  • Certain plants (invasive species)
  • Hazardous materials

It is good to know that Hawaii has very strict laws when it comes to bringing plants and animals into the state. This is because Hawaii has many endemic plants and animals that could be negatively affected by foreign species. Please understand that Hawaii, as we know and love it, is the way it is due to strict regulations on what is brought into the state.

The endangered Hawaiian Monk Seal – one of only two types of mammals that are native to Hawaii

Please see our Moving to Hawaii with Pets Guide for more information on bringing animals into the state.

4. How realistic is it to share a shipping container to Hawaii?

So, another way to save money on shipping your household goods to Hawaii, besides using freight shipping, would be to share a shipping container with someone else to save money on the cost of shipping to Hawaii.. This allows you to split the cost of shipping as long as the company you choose charges for space (the size of your shipping container) and not weight. Yes, it’s realistic and is actually a commonly used way to cut costs on shipping to Hawaii.

You can accomplish this a couple of different ways:

  • You already know somebody that happens to be moving over around the same time you are. You know them, they know you. You agree to share a shipping container and split the costs. Everything works out great.
  • Ask people you know and trust if they happen to know anybody moving to Hawaii. Maybe your friend has a friend moving out here and you guys can arrange to share a container to Hawaii.
  • There are also people that post ads online (on websites like Craigslist) asking if somebody would like to share a container. If you go this route, make sure you are on a trusted website and everything sounds legitimate. This can actually work out pretty well as long as you’re careful.
  • Post an ad online yourself. Ask if somebody would like to share a container and let them know how much square footage, or space in the container, your belongings will take up.

Regardless of which option you end up going with, make sure you are present and involved when it comes to packing the container. You don’t want to have your belongings damaged due to poor packing on the other person’s part, and likewise, you don’t want your belongings to damage somebody else’s. If that happened, wasted time and money would be a likely outcome.

For recommended tips on how to pack a shipping container, please see: Tips for Making Your Move to Hawaii as easy as possible.

Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge is considered the northernmost point of not only the island of Kauai, but the entire state of Hawaii

5. How long does it take to get your belongings to Hawaii?

This depends on a few different factors, such as the shipping/moving company you use, where you are coming from, how much you are bringing with you, etc. It can take as little as four days or can take around a month. The average wait time is around two weeks.

It is best if you bring some things with you, or get them mailed, if you will be using them or need them immediately. This way you won’t be stuck on an island for a few weeks without the things you really need.

The word Hawaii is from the Proto-Polynesian hawaiki, meaning “place of the gods” or “homeland”

How long does it take for a car to be shipped to Hawaii?

Fortunately, shipping your car to Hawaii doesn’t take too long. From the west coast of the mainland US, it usually takes between 5 and 7 days, but shipping times will vary depending on its original location.

6. How much does it cost to ship my belongings to Hawaii? What about my car?

This, again, depends on what company you choose to use, how you choose to ship your items, where you are coming from, and what you are bringing with you.

Shipping Household Goods. The average cost of moving a 3-bedroom house to Hawaii is between $5,000-$10,000 (give or take). Usually, you will be charged based on the weight of your shipment or the dimensions (how much space your shipment will take up on the barge). So, if you have a lot of large, bulky items, you will be paying more.

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

It costs around $1,000-$1,500 to ship a car to Hawaii. The price can fluctuate depending on several factors, like the size of your vehicle, where you are shipping it to and from, and how you choose to ship it. Some options for shipping your vehicle include having it transported in specially designed auto frames, in containers, or in secure garage stowage.

It is important to know that, in most cases, your car will need to be completely empty. Some companies allow you to have a child car seat or jumper cables in the vehicle, but always make sure to check before you ship your car. If not, you could increase the time it takes to get your vehicle to the islands, which would be a bummer because a car is really nice to have in Hawaii as the public transportation system doesn’t operate 24/7.

For more information on shipping a car to Hawaii, please see Step 5: Shipping Your Car.

7. What’s the best time of year to move to Hawaii?

Hawaii is a great place to move to year-round because of the gorgeous year-round weather, but there are better times of the year to arrive here.

The best time to arrive in Hawaii is in the spring (January through May) and in the fall (September through November). During these times, fewer visitors come to the islands, so it’s easier to find affordable flights, car rentals, and short-term accommodations.

Spring and fall also provide cooler weather conditions, which is nice when you have to lift boxes and unpack. These months are also a better time to arrive because during the winter you will have to deal with wetter weather conditions, which could present a problem when you unpack your shipping container.

Basically, you avoid crowded, busy travel conditions and higher prices in the summer, and avoid wetter conditions in the winter, by arriving in the spring or fall.

Hawaii is America’s youngest state, entering the nation on August 21, 1959

8. What is the cheapest way to ship to Hawaii?

Yes, there are some ways you can save some money on shipping to Hawaii. We have mentioned them throughout our Moving Your Belongings to Hawaii Guide, but will summarize and review them here. Ways to save money when moving your belongings to Hawaii include:

  • Only bring the essentials– the items you really need. Remember, the easiest, cheapest way to move to Hawaii is to move with very little. The Hawaii lifestyle is all about enjoying the outdoors, appreciating what you have, and living with less. Just keep in mind, Hawaii is an expensive place to buy items and also a hard place to find specialty items.
  • Save money whenever possible. Look for opportunities, no matter how small. Every dollar counts and really starts to add up towards the end of your move. Rather than paying for brand new boxes, stop by your local wine or grocery store and ask if they can put some aside for you. Remember to do this in advance; don’t try to stop by the week before you move and expect a ton of boxes.
  • Use a freight forwarder. Usually cheaper than going directly through a shipping company, but may involve a longer wait or arrival time due to the fact that they need a full barge in order to depart.
  • Share a shipping container with somebody. This is a great way to go and can cut shipping costs in half, but be careful, and make sure to be involved when it comes to packing the container.

9. What’s the fastest way to ship household goods to Hawaii?

Oftentimes, you wait until the last minute to start thinking about moving and packing. We highly recommend you don’t do this when it involves moving to Hawaii. You are basically moving overseas, so it is a more complicated process than moving on the Mainland. You can’t just fill up a bunch of moving trucks; you have a couple more steps you need to take. However, if you would like to know the quickest way to move to Hawaii, there are a couple things you can do to save some time.

  • Move with as little as possible. This has been stated over and over again throughout Moving to Hawaii: The Ultimate Guide to Shipping Your Belongings. It saves time and money. The less you have, the less time it takes to pack and move it. Donate, sell, or get rid of any items you don’t need to bring with you. Only bring the essentials (see Question #1).
  • Mail your belongings. Mailing your belongings is the fastest way to get them to the islands. This is, however, only helpful if you are moving over with very little, or you only mail the items you will immediately need to use. This is because it will cost more to mail a lot of items than it would to ship them.
  • Choose a shipping carrier over a freight forwarder. If you choose a shipping carrier over a freight forwarder, you will save some time. Freight forwarders usually have to wait a little longer before they depart from port because they wait for full loads. Shipping carriers offer to ship less-than-container loads, so even if you don’t have a lot of stuff to ship, you can still choose to go with a shipping carrier and take advantage of their faster arrival and delivery times.

Hawaii is home to some of the world’s best snorkeling

Want to Know More About Hawaii Life?

If you’re planning to make the move to Hawaii, or looking for more information about shipping to Hawaii, find a Hawaii Life agent or give us a call today at 1-800-370-3848.

Additional Resources

Moving to Hawaii: The Ultimate Guide to Shipping Your Belongings
How to Move Your Belongings to Hawaii
Moving to Hawaii – Planning the Move vs. Hiring a Moving Company
Tips for Making the Move to Hawaii as Easy as Possible
Moving Your Belongings to Hawaii: Recommended Shipping Companies
Moving Your Pet to Hawaii – The Complete Guide

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Walter Copeland

September 10, 2016

I’m planning to move our household goods from Little Rock, AR to Kona. I’m comparing using a moving company to using cubes. I have a little under a 20′ container worth or 3 cubes. In the past in Japan when moving in country or back to the States, I’ve discovered that they start out with huge prices and then are willing to come way down. Matson has told me that moving a 20′ from Little Rock to Kona would range between $7,500 – $8,600. U-Pack has just told me that 3 cubes would be $12,028. Is it worth continuing to check about cubes? They seem so much more expensive, plus they just drop off and deliver containers without loading – which is fine. Do you think I should just stick with 20′ containers? How open are they to lowering the price? Mahalo!


December 28, 2016

A y references of shipping companies.. or how about international shipping.. ex: my wife and I would love to move to Hawaii.. but we live in Canada… not much is mentioned about international shipping.. ex: if we live near the U.S. boarder.. a trucking/moving company could take our “shipment of household goods to a port in the U.S. that ships to Hawaii on a routine basis or something like that…. p.s. we not military.. so there is no discount for us…. just biting the huge major cost of shipping …

Thomas Martin

December 18, 2018

Great information on this site. I did some calling today and found some good deals. Since I live in Seattle (Capital Hill), Matson quoted me $5,900 for a 20′ or $6,800 for 40′ container shipped from SEA to Kawaihae harbor. They would deliver that container to my home, take it back to the SEA dock, and ship to Kawaihae. Kona Trans quoted me $300 for container transport from Kawaihae to my Big Island home (3 miles away) and they could arrange a moving crew with min of 2 person at $80/h/person to unload my container into my house. I only need to find a moving company in SEA to pack our belongings and pack the cargo container.

Nicole davino

January 30, 2019

> shipping cars port to port is $1000 $1200.


January 18, 2020

I’ve shipped back and forth both ways from mainland to Hawaii and vice versa. Each time I’ve said to myself, “it would have been cheaper to sell (or give away) everything and rebought”. With the exception of a car. Motorcycles are the cheapest and go by cubic volume (which is almost always more than weight) and nobody checks the contents of your motorcycle container. I “may or may not have” shipped a motorcycle with half my apartment in a “motorcycle container” for $250. Just sayin’😁


April 12, 2022

> Marc, you’ve got me totally curious about the motorcycle shipping container idea! I’d love to hear more details on how the process worked and what company you used.

Andrei Demy

October 5, 2021

Hard to find last-minute movers or for short notice move?

Fortunately, Calgary Movers Pro can assist! Need to find movers in Calgary, just give us a call at 587-741-9000. We provide last minute moving services in Calgary.


October 10, 2021

Always wanted to visit Hawaii, just saw it in a movie pearl harbor.


March 29, 2023

For shipping household contents, incl furniture, appliances etc from California to Hawaii will State of Hawaii charge any taxes such as sales tax or use tax? Do we have to show any invoices for the household contents shipped? eg for appliances

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