Your first consideration when choosing a name for your LLC is that it be unique from any other business in the state of Hawaii. You can quickly and easily do a name check on the Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Business Registration Division website to verify the business name you want is available. For a $10 fee, you can reserve a name by filling out the Application for Reservation of Name.
In order to comply with Hawaii state law, your company’s name must contain some form of the term “Limited Liability Company.” This can appear as the whole phrase written out or the abbreviations “LLC” or “L.L.C.” You can also choose to use abbreviations for the words “Limited” and “Company” as “Ltd.” or “Co.” respectively. The words “bank,” “trust,” “trustee,” “incorporated,” “inc.,” “corporation,” “corp.,” “insurer,” “insurance company,” or any wording that suggests the company is an insurance business are not allowed in Hawaii without providing a lengthy list of supporting documents.
The state of Hawaii requires that any LLC have a registered agent for service of process. This means your LLC must have an entity that agrees to physically accept any legal papers on the company’s behalf should it be sued. This entity does not have to be an individual person. The registered agent can be any resident of the state of Hawaii or a business entity authorized to do business in Hawaii so long as the agent has a physical street address within the state.
You may want to consider preparing an operating agreement to outline the ownership and operating procedures for your LLC.
Though not required by the state, an operating agreement will set the guidelines for running your company. This does not need to be filed with the state, but it can go a long way toward ensuring your company’s success.
An IRS Employer Identification Number (EIN) is required for your LLC unless it is a single-member LLC with no employees. Obtaining an EIN is as easy as completing the application on the IRS website.
It’s possible your company will need to register with the Hawaii Department of Taxation. Whether or not your company needs to follow this step will depend on the exact types of taxes it will be collecting and/or has been collecting from the state and if you have employees. You can register online at the Hawaii Business Express webpage using Form BB-1.
If yours is a foreign LLC, also referred to as an out-of-state LLC, wanting to do business in the state of Hawaii, you’ll need to follow all the steps above with a few differences.
You will need to file an Application for Certificate of Authority (Form FLCC-1) with the Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Business Registration Division as well as a Certificate of Existence, also referred to a Certificate of Good Standing, from your LLC’s domestic or home state. The Certificate of Existence must date back no more than 60 days prior to filing. The filing fee is the same as a domestic LLC in Hawaii at $50.
Some industries will require you to secure federal, state, and/or local licenses to legally operate in the state of Hawaii.
Since business licenses and permits are issued at all levels of government—federal, state, and local—and for such a multitude of reasons (e.g., health, building, signage, etc.), you should still do careful research to find out what licenses and permits you need.
If all that research sounds overwhelming or out of your depth, you can also hire or use a professional service to do it for you.