comscore Kokua Line: Hawaii licenses expiring within 6 months may be eligible for renewal by mail | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
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Kokua Line: Hawaii licenses expiring within 6 months may be eligible for renewal by mail

Question: The rules say you can renew your Hawaii driver’s license within six months before expiration. However, they’ve been allowing renewal by mail only for licenses that expire in 2020. This poses a horrible hardship during these times. Are there any plans to update the eligible expiration year to 2021?

Answer: Yes. It appears that a change was made Friday, although individuals who want to renew by mail still must verify ahead of time that they are eligible. We’ll get to the details, but first a little background. You are referring to the fact that Hawaii driver’s license holders are allowed to renew their licenses up to six months before the expiration date, which means that many licenses expiring in 2021 are eligible for renewal. However, Honolulu County’s Department of Customer Serv­ices previously said that a mail-in renewal option offered during the pandemic was limited to credentials expiring in 2020.

Many readers have complained about this, as they struggled to get appointments for in-person renewal at driver’s license centers and satellite city halls that were closed for long stretches during Oahu’s two pandemic shutdowns and have been very busy since reopening. As the pandemic has dragged on, these folks want the same chance to renew by mail as those with licenses expiring this year. Licenses expiring in January, for example, have been eligible for renewal since July, but only in person.

On Friday, Shelly Kuni­shige, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation, said the priority is to serve people whose licenses have expired or will expire during the emergency period declared by Gov. David Ige (currently March 16 to Oct. 31, but that nothing in the applicable state law prohibits renewal by mail of licenses expiring later than that. The law is Hawaii Revised Statutes 286-107,, she said.

“Many of the county DMVs have hired additional staff and lengthened hours of operation to address the priority renewals,” she said, adding that the DOT would “continue to communicate with the county administrators on the best practices to address the priority renewals.”

As we’ve reported before, Honolulu County’s CSD has added early-morning, late-­afternoon and Saturday hours, initially to serve people whose appointments were canceled during the shutdowns. It’s also urged people with transactions that can be completed online, by mail or at grocery store kiosks to use those methods — thereby freeing up appointment times for people who must appear in person.

Later Friday, CSD changed its website, at www.hono, to say, “Hawaii driver licenses within the allowed renewal period are eligible to be RENEWED by mail. If possessing a current Hawaii driver license issued on or after May 1, 2014, and all required Real ID documents, such as proof of legal presence, proof of Social Security number and two proofs of (Hawaii) principal address, are already on file, click here ( mailren) for driver license renewal by mail instructions.” The requirement that the license expire in 2020 had been removed.

Applicants who meet those requirements and want to renew by mail must first:

>> Send a signed and dated letter requesting to renew your Hawaii driver’s license. Submit no earlier than six months before the expiration date printed on the card. Include the following information in the letter: name as it appears on the license; mailing address; Social Security number (last four digits) or Hawaii driver’s license number; date of birth; email address; and signature, which will be compared with your signature on file.

>> Mail your letter to Driver License Section, P.O. Box 30340, Honolulu, HI 96820-0340; email to; or fax to 768-9096.

Eligible applicants will receive a renewal packet — consisting of an application, signature form, medical form (eye test certification and health clearance) and a statement of driver’s license possession — to complete and return. To use this process, your lawful U.S. status cannot be temporary, you can’t have pending compliance requirements in other jurisdictions and you can’t have a previously reported medical condition that requires a reevaluation, the instructions say.

Q: How about a blanket one-year extension on all Hawaii driver’s licenses?

A: That’s not possible, Kunishige said. “The suspension of the expiration dates for credentials expiring during the emergency period is possible due to the governor’s emergency proclamation. As the issuance of a formal state of emergency including suspension of the driver’s license and periodic motor vehicle inspection laws is dependent on the current situation, we cannot presuppose that the state of emergency will be continued through the end of the calendar year. Therefore we cannot offer a blanket one-year suspension of the expiration date,” she said.

Editor’s note: Kokua Line will be on hiatus until mid-November. We look forward to answering your questions upon our return.

Write to Kokua Line at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or email

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