Starting an LLC in Hawaii is easy, just follow these simple steps:
To start an LLC in Hawaii you will need to file the Articles of Organization with the State of Hawaii, which costs $50. You can apply online or by mail. The Articles of Organization is the legal document that officially creates your Hawaii Limited Liability Company.
Follow the step-by-step guide below to start your Hawaii LLC today and get your business up and running.
STEP 1: Name your Hawaii LLC
Choosing a company name is the first and most important step in starting your Hawaii LLC. Be sure to choose a name that complies with Hawaii naming requirements and is easily searchable by potential clients.
1. Follow the naming guidelines:
- Your name must include the phrase “limited liability company” or one of its abbreviations (LLC or L.L.C.).
- Your name cannot include words that could confuse your Hawaii LLC with a government agency (FBI, Treasury, State Department, etc.).
- Restricted words (e.g. Bank, Attorney, University) may require additional paperwork and a licensed individual, such as a doctor or lawyer, to be part of your Hawaii LLC.
For a complete list of naming rules in Hawaii, you can read Hawaii's Naming Guidelines.
2. Hawaii Name Availability. Make sure the name you want isn't already taken by doing a business name search on the Hawaii State website.
3. URL Availability. We recommend that you check to see if your business name is available as a web domain. Even if you don't plan to make a business website today, you may want to buy the URL in order to prevent others from acquiring it.
After registering a domain name, consider setting up a professional email account (@yourcompany.com). Google's G Suite offers a business email service that comes with other useful tools, including word processing, spreadsheets, and more. Try it for free
FAQ: Naming an LLC
Do I need to get a DBA or Trade Name for my business?
Most LLCs do not need a DBA (Doing Business As). The name of your Hawaii LLC can serve as your company’s brand name and you can accept checks and other payments under that name as well. However, you may wish to register a DBA if you would like to conduct business under another name.
To learn more about DBAs in your state, read our How to File a DBA in Hawaii guide.
STEP 2: Choose a Registered Agent in Hawaii
You are required to nominate an Hawaii Registered Agent for your Hawaii LLC.
What is a Registered Agent? A registered agent is an individual or business entity responsible for receiving important legal documents on behalf of your business. Think of your registered agent as your business' point of contact with the state.
Who can be a Registered Agent? a Registered Agent must be a resident of Hawaii or a corporation, such as a registered agent service, authorized to transact business in Hawaii. You may elect an individual within the company including yourself.
TIPRecommended: Northwest provides the first year of registered agent service free with LLC formation ($49 + State Fees)
FAQ: Nominating a Hawaii LLC Registered Agent
Can I be my own Registered Agent?
Yes. You or anyone else in your company can serve as the registered agent for your Hawaii LLC.
Read more about being your own registered agent.
Is a Registered Agent service worth it?
Using a professional Registered Agent service is an affordable way to manage government filings for your Hawaii LLC. For most businesses, the advantages of using a professional service significantly outweigh the annual costs.
For more information, read our article on Hawaii registered agents.
STEP 3: File Your Hawaii LLC Articles of Organization
To register your Hawaii LLC, you will need to file the Articles of Organization with the State of Hawaii. This can be done online or by mail.
When filing your Articles of Organization, you will need to state whether your Hawaii LLC will be member-managed or manager-managed. Before you file, read our member-managed vs manager-managed guide to help you choose the best management structure for your LLC.
File the Hawaii LLC Articles of Organization
OPTION 1: File Online with the State of Hawaii
- OR -
OPTION 2: File by Mail
State Filing Cost: $50, payable to the State of Hawaii (Nonrefundable) plus $1 State Archive Fee (May be refundable)
Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs
Business Registration Division
335 Merchant St.
PO Box 40
Honolulu, HI 96810
If you’re expanding your existing LLC to the State of Hawaii, you will need to form a Foreign LLC.
FAQ: Filing Hawaii LLC Documents
What is the processing time to form my Hawaii LLC?
Two weeks, but may be expedited for an additional fee.
What is the difference between a domestic Hawaii LLC and foreign LLC?
An LLC is referred to as a "domestic LLC" when it conducts business in the state where it was formed. Normally when we refer to an LLC we are actually referring to a domestic LLC. A foreign LLC must be formed when an existing LLC wishes to expand its business to another state.
Read our What Is a Foreign LLC article to learn more.
STEP 4: Create Your Hawaii LLC Operating Agreement
When creating an LLC in Hawaii, LLCs are not required to have an operating agreement, but it's a good practice to have one.
What is an operating agreement? An operating agreement is a legal document outlining the ownership and operating procedures of an LLC.
Why are operating agreements important? A comprehensive operating agreement ensures that all business owners are on the same page and reduces the risk of future conflict.
For more information on operating agreements, read our Hawaii LLC operating agreement guide.
Recommended: Download a template or create a Free Operating Agreement using our tool.
FAQ: Creating an Operating Agreement
Do I need to file my operating agreement with the state?
No. The operating agreement is an internal document that you should keep on file for future reference. However, many states do legally require LLCs to have an operating agreement in place.
STEP 5: Get an EIN
What is an EIN? The Employer Identification Number (EIN), or Federal Tax Identification Number, is used to identify a business entity. It is essentially a social security number for the company.
Why do I need an EIN? An EIN is required for the following:
- To open a business bank account for the company
- For Federal and State tax purposes
- To hire employees for the company
Where do I get an EIN? An EIN is obtained from the Internal Revenue Service IRS (free of charge) by the business owner after forming the company. This can be done online or by mail.
FOR INTERNATIONAL APPLICANTS: you do not need an SSN to obtain an EIN. For more information, read our guide on how to obtain an EIN as a foreign LLC.
FAQ: Getting an EIN
What tax structure should I choose for my Hawaii LLC?
When you get an EIN, you will be informed of the different tax classification options that are available. Most LLCs elect the default tax status.
However, some LLCs can reduce their federal tax obligation by choosing S corporation status. We recommend consulting with a local accountant to find out which option is best for you.
Considering Using an LLC Formation Service?
We reviewed and ranked the top 5 LLC formation services.
Find out which is best for you.
Protect Your Business & Personal Assets
Business Banking for Personal Asset Protection
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your LLC is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
You can protect your business with these two steps:
1. Opening a business bank account:
- Separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- Makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Recommended: You can get $200 when you open a Chase business checking account with qualifying activities. Learn more.
2. Getting a business credit card:
- Helps you separate personal and business expenses.
- Builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise capital later on.
Recommended: Learn more about the best small business credit cards.
Business insurance helps you manage risks and focus on growing your business. The most common types of business insurance are:
- General Liability Insurance: A broad insurance policy that protects your business from lawsuits. Most small businesses get general liability insurance.
- Professional Liability Insurance: A business insurance for professional service providers (consultants, accountants, etc.) that covers against claims of malpractice and other business errors.
- Workers' Compensation Insurance: A type of insurance that provides coverage for employees’ job-related illnesses, injuries, or deaths. In Hawaii, businesses with one or more employees, including LLC members and corporate officers, are required by law to have workers compensation insurance. Get a free quote with ADP.
Learn more about which business insurance you need to keep your business safe.
Properly Sign Legal Documents
Improperly signing a document as yourself and not as a representative of the business can leave you open to personal liability. When signing legal documents on behalf of your company, you could follow this formula to avoid problems:
- Formal name of your business
- Your signature
- Your name
- Your position in the business as its authorized representative
See the image below for an example.
This ensures that you are signing on behalf of your LLC and not as yourself.
Learn more on how to protect your business & personal assets by reading our article - How to Maintain your LLC Corporate Veil.
Keep Your Company Compliant
Hawaii Business Permits and Licenses
To operate your Hawaii LLC you must comply with federal, state, and local government regulations. For example, restaurants likely need health permits, building permits, signage permits, etc.
The details of business licenses and permits vary from state to state. Hawaii requires all businesses such as sole proprietorships, DBAs, LLCs, corporations (S corp and C Corp), partnerships, etc. to obtain a General Excise Tax License. Make sure you read carefully and don't be surprised if there are short classes required as well.
Fees for business licenses and permits will vary depending on what sort of license you are seeking to obtain.
Find out how to obtain necessary licenses and permits for your business or have a professional service do it for you:
- Federal: Use the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) guide.
- State: Visit Hawaii's Business Licenses.
- Local: Contact your local county clerk and ask about local licenses and permits.
Hawaii LLC Tax Requirements
Depending on the nature of your business, you may be required to register for one or more forms of state tax.
If you are selling a physical product, you’ll typically need to register for a sellers permit through the Hawaii Department of Taxation website.
Hawaii does not have a sales tax and instead imposes a General Excise Tax.
Sales tax, also called "Sales and Use Tax," is a tax levied by states, counties, and municipalities on business transactions involving the exchange of certain taxable goods or services.
Read our sales tax guide to find out more.
If you have employees in Hawaii, you will have to register for the Unemployment Insurance Tax through the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations. You will also need to sign up for the Employee Withholding Tax through the Hawaii Department of Taxation on behalf of your employees.
Federal LLC Tax Requirements
- Form 1065 Partnership Return (most multi-member LLCs use this form)
- Form 1040 Schedule C (most single-member LLCs use this form)
Read our LLC Tax Guide to learn more about federal income taxes for LLCs.
File Your Hawaii LLC Annual Report
Hawaii requires LLCs to file an annual report with the Department of Commerce. This can be done online or by mail.
File your Hawaii LLC Annual Report
File Online with the State of Hawaii
Fee: $12.50 (Nonrefundable)
Due Date: Due by end of the calendar quarter in which the LLC was formed.
Late Filings: Hawaii fines LLCs $10 annually for late filings. In addition, LLCs may be dissolved after 2 years for failure to file an annual report.
Avoid Automatic Dissolution
LLCs may face fines and even automatic dissolution when they miss one or more state filings. When this happens, LLC owners risk the loss of limited liability protection. A quality registered agent service can help prevent this outcome by notifying you of upcoming filing deadlines and by submitting reports on your behalf.
Recommended: Northwest offers a reliable registered agent service and excellent customer support.
Get Help Starting a Business in Hawaii
We understand that creating an LLC in Hawaii and getting your business up and running comes with many challenges. To help you succeed, we compiled the best local resources in every major metro area in Hawaii. You can get free assistance in the following areas:
Make Running Your Business Easier
After starting a business, two of the most important things you can do are get professional accounting and hire the right employees. Streamlining these processes can save you time and money as your business grows.
If you plan to hire employees, stay compliant with the law by following these steps:
- Verify that new employees are able to work in the US
- Report employees as "new hires" to the State
- Provide workers' compensation insurance for employees
- Withhold employee taxes
- Print compliance posters and place them in visible areas of your work space
Find out more information from the Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.
Recommended: Check out our Hiring for your Small Business Guide for resources like sample job descriptions, payroll service reviews, and more.
FAQ: Hiring Employees
What is the minimum wage in Hawaii?
The minimum wage in Hawaii is $10.10 per hour.
How often do I need to pay employees?
Hawaii requires wages to be paid at least twice per month unless the employee and employer get special permission from the Hawaii Department of Labor to be paid on a monthly basis.
Accounting For Your Hawaii LLC
It’s critical to get your books in order — even if you haven’t officially opened for business. Hiring an accountant or professional accounting firm will help you:
- Avoid business tax errors and unnecessary liability.
- Gain peace of mind while the experts do the hard work.
- Focus simply on running and expanding your business.
We have thoroughly researched and assembled a list of the best accountants in your area because we can all appreciate some face-to-face interaction.
If you prefer to handle your business taxes on your own, a well-managed accounting system will help you:
- Track your business finances (i.e., bills, expenses, income, etc.).
- Simplify your annual tax filings.
The right software makes accounting easy. Look for software that:
- Syncs with your bank automatically.
- Matches transactions to invoices and purchase orders.
- Can be accessed from your phone.
Recommended: QuickBooks has all the accounting features your small business will need.
Try QuickBooks for free
Women in Business Tools and Resources
If you have a woman-owned business, many resources are available to help you concentrate on your business’s growth:
- Funding - (ie. grants, investors, loans)
- Events - (ie. conferences, meetups)
- Guides - (ie. business formation, personal growth)
- Support - (ie. advice, communities, business strategies)
Our information and tools will provide educational sources, allow you to connect with other women entrepreneurs, and help you manage your business with ease.
TRUiC has created video guides to support and reinforce our on-page guides. These videos help to visualize the ideas and lessons that you need to know to create and run a successful business.
Check out our growing library of small business videos on the TRUiC YouTube channel.
Register as a Foreign LLC in Hawaii
Forming a foreign LLC allows your company to operate as one entity in multiple states. If you have an existing LLC and want to do business in Hawaii, you will need to register as a foreign LLC. This can be done online or by mail.
How to Obtain a Certificate of Good Standing
A Certificate of Good Standing verifies that your Hawaii LLC was legally formed and has been properly maintained. Several instances where you might need to get one include:
- Seeking funding from banks or other lenders
- Forming your business as a foreign LLC in another state
- Obtaining or renewing specific business licenses or permits
You can order a Hawaii Certificate of Good Standing online.
Order a Certificate of Good Standing
Request a Certificate Online through the Hawaii Department of Commerce & Consumer Affairs
Fee: $7.50 (Nonrefundable)
Dissolve Your Hawaii LLC
If at any point in the future you no longer wish to conduct business with your LLC, it is important to officially dissolve it. Failure to do so in a timely fashion can result in tax liabilities and penalties, or even legal trouble. To dissolve your Hawaii LLC, there are two broad steps:
- Close your business tax accounts
- File the Articles of Dissolution
When you are ready to dissolve your LLC, follow the steps in our Hawaii LLC Dissolution Guide.