How to Start an LLC in Hawaii

L L C members happy after starting an L L C in Hawaii

It’s easy to form an LLC in Hawaii online yourself. Just follow these steps: 

  1. Name Your LLC
  2. Choose a Registered Agent
  3. File the HI Articles of Organization
  4. Create an LLC Operating Agreement
  5. Get an EIN

Or, use a professional service:

four point eight out of five stars Northwest Registered Agent ($29 + State Filing Fee)

three point four out of five stars LegalZoom ($79 + State Filing Fee)

Starting an LLC in Hawaii is Easy

You can get a Hawaii LLC online by registering the Articles of Organization with the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs. The cost of Hawaii LLC Registration is $50. 

Follow our How to Start an LLC in Hawaii guide below to get started.

Steps to form an L L C in Hawaii

For more information on how to form an LLC in any state, visit our How to Start an LLC guide.

Step 1: Create A Name For Your Hawaii LLC

Before you register your Hawaii LLC, you'll need to come up with a name. Your business name needs to be catchy for branding purposes and legitimate for legal purposes.

We go into depth on this topic in our LLC naming guide. We’ll go over the basics below.

Naming Your LLC

First, brainstorm some possibilities. Use our LLC name generator to get the ideas flowing.

Next, make sure your name meets Hawaii guidelines:

  • it contains the words limited liability company, limited company, LLC, or L.L.C.
  • it doesn't contain restricted words or phrases (these often include words like bank, attorney, and university) without approval
  • it's distinguishable from any other entity or trade name registered in Hawaii
  • full list of Hawaii naming guidelines

Next, do a Hawaii LLC name search with the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs to find out if your name is available in Hawaii.

If your business name is available and meets guidelines, you’ll be able to register it when you file your Articles of Organization with the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.

Is the URL available? Before you commit 100% to a name, check to see if there’s a good web domain available.

We recommend buying your domain right away because even if launching a business website isn’t on your radar right now, it will be soon.

Find a Domain Now

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Once you register a domain name for your LLC, consider setting up a business phone system to establish credibility and enhance your customer service. Nextiva provides a plethora of useful features and a quick, easy setup. Try Nextiva.

Using a Hawaii Trade Name (DBA)

A Hawaii DBA (doing business as), also known as a trade name, is any registered name that a business operates under that isn't its legal business name. A trade name can be used by any type of business, including a sole proprietorship, partnership, or limited liability company (LLC).

Learn how to get a DBA in our Hawaii DBA guide.

Step 2: Appoint A Hawaii Registered Agent

When you file your Articles of Organization, you'll need to list a registered agent.

A registered agent's job is to accept legal documents like service of process and tax notices for your LLC. To learn more about Hawaii Registered Agents, read our guide.

Your registered agent can be a person or a registered agent service. You can act as your own registered agent, but many business owners choose to use a registered agent service.

Here are a few things to think about before you decide to act as your own registered agent:

  • You’ll need to be available during normal (9 am - 5 pm) business hours at the address you provide
  • If you run your business from home, you’ll have to make your personal address public
  • You could be served with a lawsuit in front of your family or coworkers

Recommended: Northwest Registered Agent offers a free year of registered agent services when you form your LLC ($29 plus state fees).

Step 3: File the Articles Of Organization

It’s time to officially form your LLC by filing your Articles of Organization with the Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.

You can file online with the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs or fill out a hard copy of Hawaii Form LLC-1 and send by email, mail, fax, or in-person. The filing fee is $50. 

Recommended: Now is a good time to decide if your LLC will be member-managed vs manager-managed.

You'll need to know the following information to complete the form:

  1. Entity Name
  2. Registered Agent Name and Registered Office Address
  3. Names of Organizers and Governing Authority Type (LLC Management Structure)
  4. Member Liability
  5. Business Duration

For more detailed help with completing the form, visit our Hawaii Articles of Organization guide.

Delivery Instructions:

By Mail: 

Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs
Business Registration Division
335 Merchant St.
P.O. Box 40
Honolulu, HI 96810

In Person: 
335 Merchant St.
Room 201
Honolulu, HI 96813

FAX: (808) 586-2733

Email: breg-doci-filing@dcca.hawaii.gov

How long does it take to get a Hawaii LLC approved? LLC processing time is typically about two weeks, but can be expedited for an additional fee.

Step 4: Create A Hawaii LLC Operating Agreement

Creating a Hawaii LLC operating agreement is the only way to legally lock down your LLC’s management and ownership structure. Having an operating agreement in place will give you something to return to if a dispute or lawsuit arises. 

Even single-member LLCs benefit from having an operating agreement.

Your operating agreement should outline the following:

  • Each member’s responsibilities
  • How new members will be admitted
  • How existing members may transfer or terminate their membership
  • How profits and dividends will be distributed

You can add as many provisions as you want, as long as they don't conflict with Hawaii law. Take a look at our What is an Operating Agreement guide to learn more.

Download a template or create a custom Free Operating Agreement using our tool.

Step 5: Get an EIN

An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is like a Social Security number (SSN) for your company. The IRS and the state of Hawaii will use this number to track your business activity.

Your EIN will come in handy when it’s time to:

  • Open a business bank account
  • File Federal and State taxes
  • Hire employees

The best way to get an EIN for your LLC in Hawaii is by using the free online application on the IRS website.

Read our Get an EIN guide for instructions.

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Steps After Forming an LLC in Hawaii

After forming your Hawaii LLC, it's important to:

Open A Business Bank Account

A business bank account helps separate personal expenses and company expenses, which is required to maintain your Hawaii LLC's corporate veil. A corporate veil protects your personal assets from creditors in potential lawsuits against your LLC or Business.

Learn more by reading this guide to Banking for Entrepreneurs. For a multi-member LLC, you'll also want to set up capital accounts for LLC members. We also recommend checking out our review of the best business bank accounts.

Get A Business Credit Card

A business credit card will help separate personal and business expenses while building your company's credit history. A strong credit history will be useful for raising capital in the form of venture capital, angel investment, or small business loans.

Set Up Business Accounting

Hiring a business accountant is one of the best ways to ensure you’re taking advantage of LLC tax benefits; possibly saving you and your business thousands of dollars per year.

When forming an LLC in Hawaii, it’s a good idea to start a relationship with a business accountant as soon as you start your business to help set your company up for success.

Get Business Insurance

Business insurance helps manage risk. The most common forms of business insurance are general liability, professional liability, and workers' compensation.

Find out the real cost of getting insurance for your business. Get a free quote or call 855-965-3168.

Keep Your Company Compliant

Research Hawaii Business Licenses and Permits

To operate an LLC in Hawaii, you will need to comply with federal, state, and local government regulations such as health permits, building permits, and signage permits. 

Business licensing and permit requirements vary from state to state. To get started, visit our How to Get a Business License in Hawaii guide. To help facilitate this process, you can also utilize a business license service.

All Hawaii businesses, including LLCs, must obtain a General Excise Tax License in order to operate within the state. You can file online with the Department of Taxation or fill out Form BB-1: Basic Business Application to submit by mail, by fax, by email, or in person. There is a one-time filing fee of $20.

File Your Hawaii LLC Annual Report

All LLCs in Hawaii must file an annual report with the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs each year. This can be submitted online through Hawaii Business Express or by filing Form C5: Annual Report by mail, by fax, by email, or in person. The filing fee is $12.50 online and $15 for hard copies.

Understand Hawaii State Tax Requirements

Hawaii does not have a sales tax; instead, they impose the General Excise Tax (GET) on business activity. Unlike sales tax, the GET is a tax on the business itself on almost all activities — not just retail sales. See our Hawaii General Excise Tax guide to learn more.

Additionally, if you have employees in Hawaii, you will need to register for unemployment insurance tax through the Hawaii Department of Labor and Industrial Relations as well as sign up for employee withholding tax on behalf of your employees with the Hawaii Department of Taxation.

Understand Your Hawaii LLC’s Federal Tax Requirements

Most Hawaii LLCs will need to report their income to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) each year using Form 1065 Partnership Return (multi-member LLCs) or Form 1040 Schedule C (single-member LLCs).

How you pay yourself will affect your federal taxes. Visit our guide to learn more about how to pay yourself from your LLC.

Know Your Hawaii LLC’s Federal Tax Election Options

Pass-through taxation entails a business’s profits passing through to the LLC member’s individual tax returns. Like a sole proprietorship, an LLC is taxed as a pass-through entity, also known as a disregarded entity. 

Once this process is completed and after any tax-deductible expenses are taken out, the LLC members pay self-employment taxes and income tax on their portion of the business income. 

Alternatively, Hawaii LLCs can choose to elect to be taxed as an S corporation (S corp) or C corporation (C corp). If S corporation tax status is elected, LLC members can be taxed as employees of the business, potentially reducing tax burden.

More LLC Resources

  • Hawaii Foreign LLCs: Forming a foreign LLC allows your company to operate as one entity in multiple states. Download the Hawaii foreign LLC form to get started.
  • Hawaii Certificate of Good Standing: A certificate of good standing verifies that your LLC was legally formed. To order, follow our Hawaii certificate of good standing guide.
  • Dissolving a Hawaii LLC: If you are ready to dissolve your LLC, follow the steps in our Hawaii LLC Dissolution Guide.
  • LLC Legal Forms. TRUiC offers a number of free LLC legal forms including operating agreements, LLC resolutions, and hiring documents.

Need Help Forming an LLC?

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