Sat 02 Apr 2016 | By:

What, Why, and How to Register a Hawaii DBA

Why and How to File a DBA

You’ve probably heard of “Doing Business As” or DBA and you’re wondering what it is.

A Hawaii DBA is not required to start a business in the state, however, you need to learn what a DBA is to determine whether or not you need one. A DBA can be filed for numerous reasons, but the most common reason is to use a business name or an alternative trade name.

To give you a better understanding of what a DBA is, this article will discuss the requirement thoroughly; from examining what a DBA is, why you need to file one and how it is filed – we will cover all that here.

Let’s get started by knowing what a DBA is and what it can do for you and your Hawaii small business.


What is a Hawaii DBA?

DBA, short for  “Doing Business As” otherwise called fictitious or assumed business name allows an entrepreneur to use an official business name or alternative name other than the business name used by the mother business. Your Hawaii DBA is an official registration of your chosen trade name before the state of Hawaii.

Once you have a Hawaii DBA, you’ll be able to accept checks, money and other forms of payment using your official business name. Within 30 days after filing your Hawaii DBA name, you have to publish the fictitious business name statement along with your complete personal name in all official newspapers and publications for general circulation in the principal place of business.

You have to make sure that this notice appears once a week for 4 consecutive weeks. Within 30 days of the last publishing dates, you have to file an affidavit of publication before the county clerk’s office.


Why File a Hawaii DBA?

1) You want to use a formal business name.

This is especially true for sole proprietors who are required to use their personal names as their business names. Although this can be quite frustrating, you have to follow this rule if you don’t want your sole proprietorship status to be revoked.

Good thing you can file a Hawaii DBA and use a formal business name that’s unique and doesn’t bear any hint of you personal name in it.

2) You’re branching out or building new businesses.

At the start of building a business, you’ll have no need to file a Hawaii DBA. However, as your startup grows, you may want to branch out or build new ventures.

For instance, you want to operate a series of websites or a chain of shoe stores, you can build a corporation with a generic name, such as RJ Web Enterprises, Inc., or Shoe Strings, LLC and from there, you can file a fictitious business name for each website or shoe store.

Since your businesses and websites are not incorporated and are only attached to your mother corporation, there’s no significant expense during filing, thus controlling costs while enabling you to expand your Hawaii enterprise.

3) You don’t want to incorporate.

It’s a given fact that incorporating a business is expensive and many entrepreneurs don’t want to go through the challenging process. To save on cost, many entrepreneurs file a DBA to start a business while being able to use an official business name.

This is a cost-effective way to test the waters first and see if the startup is feasible or not. If you plan on doing this, it’s definitely fine, however, as your startup takes off later on, you have to consider incorporating it, for your protection and for your business’s sake.

4) Your bank requires a DBA.

For businesses running under sole proprietorship or general partnership, banks require a DBA so you can open a business bank account. Without this requirement, your chances of getting rejected are quite high so you need to prepare ahead of time.

5) Your client needs a DBA before giving you a work contract.

Still for businesses running under sole proprietorship and general partnership and even freelancers who offer independent services are required by some clients to present a DBA first before both parties proceed with contract signing.

In this situation, your Hawaii DBA will serve as the security between you and your client. It is an assurance that both of you will honor what is stipulated in the contract until the completion of the project.


How to File a Hawaii DBA

Step 1) Secure a Copy of the DBA Registration Form.

To start the process, you need to obtain a Hawaii DBA Registration Form for filing. In Hawaii, the DBA Registration Form is also known as the Application for Registration of Trade Name and it can be downloaded in this section of the DCCA website.  After you’ve downloaded the form, make sure that you don’t miss out on these reminders.

Step 2) Complete the Registration Form.

The next step is to fill-out the form with the correct entries. Make sure that all information is accurate to avoid redoing the process. Some of the basic things that will be asked include the following:

Once done, recheck the form and scan for any inconsistencies then have it notarized. After this, you can proceed to the next step of completing your Hawaii DBA.

Step 3) Submit your filled-out DBA Form promptly.

Before you decide to submit your filled-out DBA Registration Form, make sure to check it one last time. After doing so, you can file the form in the address specified in this guide.

You also need to prepare $25 for the filing fee before the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs. The only thing left for you to do is wait for your confirmation allowing you to use your Hawaii DBA name.


Should You File a DBA in Hawaii?

Before you file a Hawaii DBA, make sure that you really need one. Generally, a DBA is useful; however, it also has downsides that you need to understand.

If you want to be fully protected 100%, a DBA can’t give you that. It will not be able to safeguard you from legal, personal and financial liabilities nor award your Hawaii small business with its own rights.

There are entrepreneurs who want to have full rights over their business name and if you’re thinking of the same thing, you have to understand that filing a DBA doesn’t allow you to trademark. You will not be protected in Hawaii or in all other states. The only thing that can protect you and give you exclusive trademark rights is incorporation.

After knowing all these, weigh your options appropriately. If you’re thinking of a DBA as a momentary solution, you can try filing a Hawaii DBA and once your business takes off, you can proceed with incorporation. I hope you make a good choice, good luck!

This article is an informational guide and as such should only be used as a reference when filing an HI DBA, and it should not be used as legal advice. Your lawyer is still the best person to talk to if you want more details on the legalities of filing a ‘Doing Business As’ in Hawaii or starting a business in general.

About Ryan James

Half hardworking hermit, half avid adventurer, Ryan founded Startup Savant to simplify entrepreneurship and pay it forward by donating a portion of all revenue to support children's education via