How to purchase and register a used second hand boat with a homemade trailer in Honolulu Hawaii


Photo Jul 13, 2 34 21 PM

So I bought a small 10′ Livingston boat from guy off of Craigslist back in 2015.  At the time of purchase, there was no formal bill of sale form on DLNR or DBOR websites.  After researching on the internet,  we drafted a bill of sale using Microsoft word that documented the boat owner, boat hull, trailer, and engine, identification, serial number, etc.  The boat was purchased with the boat having a current DLNR registration and and state boat ramp sticker however the trailer was never registered with the DMV.  At the time, I never realized getting the trailer registered would be such a headache.  Since then we haven’t really used the boat all that much mostly because the trailer was never registered Getting the boat and trailer registered has proven to be a big headache with a lot of and running around.

I couldn’t find any cohesive information on the web covering how to purchase a second hand boat and as well as getting the boat and trailer registered in Honolulu so I decided to share what I needed to do to get this accomplished.  Hopefully this information can be useful to other fishermen in Hawaii.

SECTION I.  -PURCHASING A BOAT (from a private owner)
Note: In view of the purchasing party sa like if you went out to buy a boat from someone.

  1. Vessel Notice of Sale FormDuring the purchase of a used boat you’ll need to fill out a “Vessel Notice of Sale” to document a sale of a vessel between two parties, signatures of the two parties must be notarized. The form can be found on the Hawaii  DLNR website. Here’s a direct link to the form ( Form


    This DLNR form only has information pertaining to the hull of the boat.  Its my recommendation that you create a supplemental form to document boat engine and trailer information such as serial numbers, VIN, make and model, etc. and have this part of the documentation for the sale of the boat.



  1. Application for Vessel Registration and Certificate Number Form

Go to the Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation (DBOR) office in Keehi Small Boat Harbor off of Sand Island Access Road and fill out a Application for Vessel Regsitration and certificate number.  The form can be found here:

Your boat does not need to be present for this process. Be sure to bring your notarized ‘Vessel Notice of Sale’ form mentioned above, your boat’s Hull Identification Number (HIN), and your drivers license.  You will be paying for registration renewal and ownership transfer fees along with a $50.00 Hawaii Boat Ramp fee.  You will walk out of the DBOR office with the following 3 items:

State of Hawaii Certificate of Number for Undocumented Vessel Card
Photo Jul 13, 3 15 28 PM

DLNR Boat Registration Sticker that goes on the sides for your boat
Photo Jul 13, 3 20 46 PM

DLNR State Ramp Use Sticker that goes on the sides of your trailer
Photo Jul 13, 3 21 16 PM


SECTION III. – Registering Trailer with DMV

  1. Get a VIN Number for your trailer (if it is a home built trailer)Call the Kapahulu DMV Reconstruction Station and make and appointment to get a VIN number for your trailer. Their number is  (808) 768-2542.  They take boat trailers from 8:30am – 10:00am.  Getting a VIN number cost no money, its FREE.

    Photo Jul 13, 9 02 38 AM

    These are the requirements posted at the Kapahulu DMV Recon to get a VIN number.
    Photo Jul 13, 8 56 20 AM

    My trailer was under 30 feet so I had to have the following items on my trailer (See pic below)
    A) Electric Trailer Lights
    B) License Plate Holder on the the Left Side of the trailer Light (Note Left Side trailer light has a clear lens under it that illuminates the License plate under it.)
    C) Red Reflectors on the middle of trailer
    D) Fenders over the wheel
    E) Red Reflectors on the rear of both fenders
    Photo Jul 13, 4 01 17 PM

    F) Amber Reflectors on both side of the trailer where the trailer would typically “V” out where the nose of the boat sits
    G) Amber Reflectors on the front side of both fenders
    H) Tires need to be in good condition with enough tread on tires
    I) Wheel bearings are properly greased
    J) Trailer parts structurally sound and not rotted out
    Photo Jul 13, 4 01 57 PM

    Note:  When I initially went to DMV, I did not have the amber and red reflectors on my fenders or on the middle back and “V” split of my trailer.  They told me to leave my boat there and run up the street to NAPA Auto Parts on Waialae to get the reflectors.  The lady at the cash register pointed me to these cool stick on DOT approved reflectors that cost little over $1.00 each.
    Photo Jul 13, 9 42 04 AM
    Once your trailer is road ready, the inspector will fill out some paperwork and provide you with a VIN number and will attach a stick on VIN tag on your trailer.  He recommends etching or engraving the VIN number directly into the trailer just in case the sticker falls off.
    Photo Jul 13, 3 17 23 PM

    The inspector also gave me this VIN Verification paper to show to the Safety Check Station as then give to Satellite City Hall
    Photo Jul 13, 5 18 54 PM

  2. Get a (Failed) Vehicle Safety Check for your Trailer

I took my trailer to Shell Service Station on Ward Ave.  I like the people there.

You need to show the following paperwork.
-VIN Verification Paper
-Insurance Card for the car used to tow your trailer

You will then receive a FAILED Safety Inspection because your don’t have a License Plate and you don’t have a Certificate of Trailer Registration from DMV.

Photo Jul 14, 2 45 18 PM

3. Get your Trailer Weighed

Take your trailer to Toledo Scale in Kalihi to get it weighed.  They will print out an official weight certificate.  You will need to bring this to the Satellite City Hall  when you go to register your trailer.

Photo Jul 13, 4 52 31 PM

Note: In my case, I tried towing my empty trailer around the neighborhood and found that it bounced and vibrated really badly when I went over 20 mph. There was no way for me to safely tow my empty trailer to Toledo Scale.  I had no choice but to keep my boat on the trailer to take it down to the Toledo Scale.  I figured that the boat without motor was only about 150-200lbs.  Basically that equates to about an addition  $10.00 in curb weight when I get it registered at Satellite City Hall.

Toledo Scale
1914 Hau Street
Honolulu, HI 96819
Ph: (808) 845-4943


4. Registered Trailer with DMV at a Satellite City Hall

I went to Hawaii Kai Satellite City Hall.

Fill out the CS-L(MVR) 14 Form – Application For Registration of Trailer

Give them the following paperwork:
-VIN Verification Paper from DMV (they will take this from you and put it in their files)
-The Official Weight Certificate from Toledo Scale
-Failed Safety Check

They will give you the following:
– A Trailer License plate
– Certificate of Trailer Registration along with the current months Registration sticker to

Attach the License Plate to your trailer and stick the Registration Sticker on.

Photo Jul 14, 2 47 12 PM


5. Go Back to the Safety Inspection Station to get your Offical Safety Check

Bring your trailer back to the same service station where you got your failed safety check from.

Show them the following paperwork:
– Previous Failed Safety Check
– Certificate of Trailer Registration
– Insurance Card for the car used to tow your trailer

They will give you a completed Safety Check and they will place the Safety Inspection Sticker on your Trailer.



You are finished registering your boat and trailer.  Pack a pole, sunscreen, some beer and take your boat to a boat launch and go fishing.



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