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I'm planning a two week trip to Hawaii with a friend who is a Green Card holder. I know that theoretically he could change his residency to Hawaii, which would allow him to obtain a Hawaiian state ID/drivers license and enjoy the so-called kama'aina (locals) discounts. However registering in another state would take time and its unclear if its allowed to so for such a short period.

So the question is - would it be legal/practical to become a resident of Hawaii just to get the discounts?

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    It is not easy to live in Hawaii. Your local beach, park, restaurant, etc. gets crowded with tourists and the homeless, most of whom are from the mainland. The tourist presence massively increases the cost of living, while tourist industry jobs are poorly paid and much of the profits end up back on the mainland. And of course, the natives didn't exactly request annexation by the U.S. in the first place. The discount is there to ease the pain . For a tourist to claim it is, well, kind of a shady move. – choster Apr 3 '18 at 17:35
  • @choster aren't most of the discounts for stuff that's tourist-oriented? E.g. hotels, flights between islands, golf courses, restaurants, etc? – JonathanReez Apr 3 '18 at 17:49
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    Locals want to do the same thing tourists do: golf, eat out, have a night on the town. Hawaii isn't a theme park, it's a place where people are from and are trying to live, and just as in Italy and Thailand and other tourist hotspots, some desire among locals to accommodate other locals is natural. Consider, for instance, that there are very few jobs (especially off Oahu) many people work on one island during the week and fly home on weekends. What's wrong with a company wanting to capture that business by offering a discount? I have to admit, I'm astounded by this question. – choster Apr 3 '18 at 18:01
  • @choster would you also say throwaway ticketing is not morally acceptable? After all airlines are just trying to make more money by capturing more money from businessmen... – JonathanReez Apr 3 '18 at 18:07
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    @JonathanReez Would you also say taking meals from a soup kitchen is acceptable even if you can afford to buy groceries? They won't turn away a well-fed person at the door, so what's stopping any of us? – choster Apr 3 '18 at 18:46
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This does not make sense. Obtaining a Hawaii state ID requires a visit to a Driver Licensing Center with two proofs of residence. Your friend would need bank statements, lease, utility bill, etc... to prove their address (two of the documents shown at the bottom of this page). These are not documents a short-term visitor would hold. This process is meant for, well, residents of Hawaii, not temporary visitors. If he already holds a driver's license in another state, he'd likely have to surrender it, and then go through another hassle to reapply after his trip.

Trying to establish Hawaii residency for a couple weeks could also have tax implications, and the annoyance of having to file a Hawaii state tax return could well exceed the benefit of any discounts you obtain.

You're visiting for two weeks. That doesn't make you a Hawaii resident. Trying to claim otherwise is at the very least unethical, if not fraudulent.


I'd also consider HI Rev Stat § 286-131 (2017):

No person shall: [...] (5) Use a false or fictitious name in any application for a driver's license or knowingly make a false statement or knowingly conceal a material fact, or otherwise commit a fraud in any such application; or

The form you will have to sign to obtain a Hawaii driver's license requires you to provide a "HAWAII PRINCIPAL RESIDENCE ADDRESS." A hotel or rental for a two week vacation is not your principal residence address.

  • Well, it's likewise ethically dubious to provide discounts for locals... – JonathanReez Apr 3 '18 at 16:28
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    @JonathanReez You're free to make it a point to avoid such businesses. – Zach Lipton Apr 3 '18 at 17:00
  • @ZachLipton It's not just private businesses; Hanauma Bay State Park, for example, only charges admission if you do not have a Hawaii or military ID. – choster Apr 3 '18 at 17:41
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    @choster Good point, though it's not that uncommon for things supported by tax dollars to be free or cheaper for locals than visitors (see also: pretty much every museum in the EU offering free admission to young adults with EU citizenship). – Zach Lipton Apr 3 '18 at 17:45
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    Lots of businesses give discounts to locals, e.g. the Florida resident passes available to the Disney, Universal and Busch theme parks located there. Companies can market their products however they wish within legal constraints. If you feel that their pricing is irresponsible, the correct answer is not to partake of their products. – Jim MacKenzie Apr 3 '18 at 18:18
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Just to add to Zach Lipton's excellent answer, I want to bring up some other points if you can successfully argue that you've become a Hawaiian resident:

  • Your existing driver's license will cease to be valid soon. Hawaii has time limits, set by county, on how quickly you must change. (Hawaii requires you to have a social security number to get a driver's license, so this won't even be an option for foreign nationals unless formally immigrating.) Driving without a valid driver's license will:
    • Make you subject to penalties for driving without a valid driver's license
    • Make any auto insurance you have in another jurisdiction be potentially invalid
  • There may be health insurance consequences. For example, if you are covered by a Canadian province's health care program, you will cease eligibility if you become a foreign resident. This will invalidate any travel medical insurance you bought in Canada, which is predicated on the validity of the underlying provincial health care insurance. You'd need to buy US health insurance, which is complex.
  • Becoming a resident would cause any property insurance you have to stop covering you before long. For example, most Canadian habitational insurance allows you 30 days of coverage while you relocate within Canada. Becoming a foreign resident would be prima facie evidence that you have relocated outside Canada, which would invalidate your property insurance immediately.

It seems a lot of problems to endure, just to save a few dollars on some admission tickets or hotel rooms.

  • I'm asking about doing this as a Green Card holder, not as a tourist :) – JonathanReez Apr 3 '18 at 18:38
  • I think it would have many to all of the same effects, depending on the current state of residence. – Jim MacKenzie Apr 3 '18 at 18:44

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