How to Register a Small Business in Hawaii: A Beginner's Guide

Are you ready to start your local business in Hawaii? You'll first need to register your business with the state of Hawaii, which offers several types of business registrations. Get started with this important legal step!

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This beginner's guide only covers business registration at the state level, not local, such as with a city or county. Most cities and counties require a business to first register at the state level before any local business registration can proceed, such as with local business licenses and permits.


In addition, business registrations of non-profits and other less common business structures are not covered in this beginner's guide.


Step 1: Choose a Business Structure

To start a small business, you first need to choose a business structure which is a government classification for legal and tax purposes. In Hawaii, you can structure your business as a:

  • Sole Proprietorship

  • General Partnership

  • Limited Partnership (LP)

  • Limited Liability Limited Partnership (LLLP)

  • Limited Liability Partnership (LLP)

  • Limited Liability Company (LLC)

  • Corporation

Each business structure has important legal and tax differences that may or may not be optimal for your small business.


Helpful Resources to Help You Decide

Use the following resources to help your choose the right business structure:


Book/ebook

Read Nolo's latest edition book/ebook called Legal Guide for Starting & Running a Small Business, which provides an excellent and easy-to-understand overview of business structures and other important small business topics.


Online Business Quiz

Answer a few business questions with an online quiz and get a suggested business structure. Compare results with these online quizzes created by professional online filing services: CorpNet, Legalzoom, and MyCoporation.


Online Legal Advice

Consult a lawyer with RocketLawyer for a reasonable fee. Get advice on which business structure you should choose and have your legal questions answered by a real lawyer. Rocket Lawyer is a leading and top-rated online platform that provides online legal services.


 

Step 2: Check Business Name Availability

Once you have chosen a business structure, the next step is to check if your proposed business name is available in the state of Hawaii. You can avoid filing delays or rejection by ensuring your proposed business name is not the same or similar to another registered business name.


Do a quick business name search on Hawaii's state website:


Federal Trademark Business Name Search

For extra precaution, you should also check the United States Patent and Trademark Office's (USPTO) website for business names registered as federal trademarks. A business name registered as a federal trademark gives that business nationwide legal protection from other similar businesses from using that name, even if that business does not do business in Hawaii.


Avoid using a business name that is the same or similar to a business name registered as a federal trademark. Start your online search:


Business Name Reservation (Optional)

If your proposed business name is available in Hawaii, but you are not sure yet which business structure to choose, the state of Hawaii lets you reserve a business name for a limited time; however, this only applies to certain business structures/entities (see form).


To reserve a business name, you can file online and pay a state filing fee. Reserve a business name on Hawaii's state website:



 

Step 3: File State Paperwork

Once you have selected a business structure and found an available business name, you're ready to make your business official. You can register your business or do what many small business owners do and use a professional online filing service.


Using an online filing service is an excellent option if you find it too complicated to do it yourself or you find it too expensive to hire a local professional to do it for you.


If you register your business yourself, read carefully the instructions on how to complete the form correctly. Look out for details such as:

  • Providing a proper address (on some lines/sections, a PO BOX or Personal Mailbox will not be accepted)

  • Providing an eligible registered agent (there are specific qualifications a registered agent must have)

  • Including certain words or abbreviations in your business name


Sole Proprietorship

The state of Hawaii does not require a sole proprietorship to register at the state level.

No recommended online filing service


General Partnership

To register a domestic general partnership in Hawaii, use the following form:

Registration Statement for Partnership

No recommended online filing service


Limited Partnership

To register a domestic Limited Partnership in Hawaii, use the following form:

Certificate of Limited Partnership

Recommended online filings service: Legalzoom


Limited Liability Partnership (LLP)

To register a domestic Limited Liability Partnership in Hawaii, use the following forms:

Registration Statement for Partnership and Statement of Qualification

Recommended online filing service: Legalzoom


Limited Liability Company (LLC)

To register a domestic Limited Liability Company in Hawaii, use the following form:

Articles of Organization for Limited Liability Company

Recommended online filing service: ZenBusiness


Corporation

To register a domestic profit corporation in Hawaii, use the following form:

Articles of Incorporation

Recommended online filing service: ZenBusiness