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Kokua Line: Honolulu County drops renewal by mail for learner’s permits and 4-year licenses

Question: My daughter tried to renew her driver’s permit by mail and was told they’re not doing it that way anymore. The email said to make an appointment online, but there are no open appointments. What’s going on!?

Answer: We’ve heard from multiple readers dismayed to learn that Honolulu County has dropped several mail-in renewal options it had previously offered during the pandemic. As of Jan. 1, renewal by mail is no longer available for driver’s permits or four-year licenses or to convert a provisional license to a standard license (if the person is in Hawaii).

It’s still possible for drivers 72 and older to renew a two-year driver’s license by mail if they also meet other requirements, and for anyone to replace a state ID by mail. Replacements for driver’s licenses can be obtained online, as usual; to be clear, replace means duplicate, not renew.

For instructions and to see all the requirements, go to and click on “Caring for Customers.”

Harold Nedd, a spokesman for the city Department of Customer Serv­- ices, said federal funding that allowed the city to offer the other services by mail expired at the end of the year.

As for the lack of appointments available on the city’s AlohaQ system (, this is a perennial problem. It seems like the city hasn’t been able to catch up on the backlog that grew when Oahu’s driver’s license centers and satellite city halls were temporarily closed early in the pandemic.

Readers and city officials have offered useful tips for getting an appointment, which we’ll repeat:

>> Log on to AlohaQ right after midnight, when future appointments are released.

>> If that doesn’t work, try just after 8 a.m. the next morning, when that day’s cancellations are released.

>> In urgent situations, try calling 768-9100 during regular business hours (8 a.m. to 4 p.m.). If you get through, briefly explain your situation and ask for help making a hardship appointment. The representative will let you know whether any are available within the next few days of your call.

Anyone who has an appointment they know they aren’t going to use is strongly encouraged to cancel it, to open the date and time to someone else.

Q: Are they doing walk-ins at any locations?

A: No, service at all locations is by appointment only, Nedd said.

Q: I am eligible to renew my driver’s license by mail, and I did so on Jan. 4, following all the instructions. I still have not received my license. Should I have gotten it by now?

A: Not necessarily. People who renew by mail don’t get the temporary paper credential that applicants who appear in person receive. People who renew by mail receive only the permanent plastic card, which could take six to eight weeks to arrive, according to the city.

Q: If we are allowed to renew by mail, how do we handle the eye exam?

A: You would submit a vision certificate from your doctor, based on an eye examination completed within the previous six months.


A heartfelt mahalo to the couple and the neighbor who found and held on to my keys until I returned to claim them. The keys had fallen out of my waist pack, unbeknownst to me. The couple found the keys on the road during their walk in Manoa. They tested the car alarm on one of the keys to see which it belonged to. Then they went to a neighbor’s house near where the car was parked and asked whether that was her car. She said it wasn’t but that she’d put a note on the car and hold on to the keys. When I returned to my car, there was a note that gave the information that my keys were found and where to claim them. I was so grateful that she had my keys and so grateful to the couple who found them and turned them in. How wonderful that we have such beautiful souls who have the caring hearts that exemplify aloha! Thank you! — Grateful kupuna

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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