Form Your US Company in Hawaii
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A Limited Liability Company (LLC) is an ideal choice of business structure for new small businesses. It offers you (the owner) more legal protection without overcomplicating your business. If you’re getting ready to start your business in Hawaii, you’re in the right place.
If you live in Hawaii or plan to do business in the Aloha State, you’ll need a Hawaii LLC. The good news is it’s not overly complicated or expensive to file your LLC in Hawaii. If you follow our guide below, you’ll have a ready-to-launch Hawaii LLC in no time.
How to Start a Hawaii LLC
Step 1: Choose Your Hawaii LLC’s Name
Are you ready for this step? Naming your LLC is the step most new business owners are ready for, so this step should be straightforward.
The name of your LLC cannot be the same as an existing business in Hawaii, so you will need to do a search on the Hawaii Business Express page to make sure your desired business name is available in the state.
Your name must be distinguishable from other businesses, which means it cannot be so similar someone may think your business is the same as another business registered in Hawaii.
Your LLC name must also include a designator that tells anyone interacting with your business that you are an LLC. You can choose from the following:
- Limited Liability Company
- Ltd. Liability Co.
- Limited Liability Co.
- Ltd. Liability Company
For example, if you wanted your business to be called Purple Pansies, you may choose your LLC name as Purple Pansies LLC.
Your name also can’t include any abbreviations or words that make it appear to be associated with a government agency, such as Treasury, State Department, FBI, or CIA. You may also need to provide additional paperwork if you want your LLC’s name to contain a restricted term such as “bank” or “attorney”.
For the complete Hawaii Business Naming Rules, click here.
If you are trying to decide between a few different names, it might be helpful to check the URL availability of each one. It is easier for potential customers to find you if your URL matches your business name so this could help you make a definitive decision. While we’re on the topic of domain names, it’s also a good idea to buy your domain name now to secure it.
Optional: Reserve Your Business Name
If you are going to register your LLC imminently, you can skip this step. However, if you’ve found the perfect LLC name and won’t finish filing your LLC for a week or so. In Hawaii, you can reserve your business name online for up to 120 days with a filing fee of $10.
Step 2: Choose a Registered Agent
All LLCs are required to have a registered agent in the state they filed their LLC in. A registered agent is an individual or company that is authorized to accept legal and government documents on behalf of your LLC.
The registered agent is required to have an address in Hawaii and must be available to receive mail during normal business hours (9 AM – 5 PM, Monday to Friday). If you live in Hawaii, you can be your own registered agent.
You can also choose a willing friend, family member, or commercial registered agent. Your registered agent’s address will be publicly available, so it’s important to consider if you are comfortable with that if you choose to be your own agent.
For more information on whether or not you should be your own registered agent, check out our guide here.
If you are unable to commit to being your own registered agent, a commercial registered agent is usually the best option. For a basic fee, a Commercial Registered Agent will forward your mail to you or scan it and email it as a digital copy. If you’re looking for a trusted registered agent in Hawaii, we’d be happy to assist. Simply reach out to us and we’ll give you the information you need.
Step 3: File Your Articles of Organization
This is the big step where your business will be officially formed and you get your Certificate of Organization.
The Articles of Organization is the document that outlines the basic information regarding your Hawaii LLC. You can file by mail (you can find the correct form here), but it will be easiest, and instantaneous if you complete it online with the Hawaii Business Express.
Filing a domestic LLC in Hawaii costs $50 and you will need to provide the following information:
- your contact information
- the name of your LLC
- your principal business address (a.k.a. your base of operations)
- the name and address of the registered agent
- names and addresses of all other LLC organizers
- the duration of the LLC (this is likely to be indefinite but if you have a predetermined end date, you need to state that here)
- whether your LLC will be member (owner) managed or not
- names and addresses of initial members (if member-managed) or of initial managers (if manager-managed)
- a statement to indicate whether the members will be liable for debts and obligations
If you are filing a Foreign LLC, meaning you already have an LLC in another state, you need to follow the same process but use a different form. You need to file an Application for Certificate of Authority, and the filing fee is $50. You must include a Certificate of Existence from your LLC’s home state, and the certificate must not be more than 60 days old.
Once you have filed your Articles of Organization, and they have been approved, your LLC will receive its Certificate of Organization and your company will formally exist in the state of Hawaii. Approval usually takes 3-5 days.
Step 4: Create Your Operating Agreement
An operating agreement is not legally required in Hawaii, but it is essential if your LLC has more than one member. This is an internal document, so you will not need to share it with anyone outside of your LLC.
An Operating Agreement needs to outline the responsibilities, rights, and obligations of all LLC owners, known as “members”. It should include the following:
- the name of your LLC
- the principal operating address
- the duration of the LLC
- name and address of your registered agent
- purpose of the business
- names and addresses of each member and their roles
- how ownership is distributed among members
- financial contributions of each member
- how profits and losses will be handled and divided
- procedures for taking on new members
- procedures for members leaving the LLC
- management structure
- voting rights
- and anything else that is beneficial to put down in writing to prevent legal issues down the line.
Step 5: Get Your LLC’s EIN
With the formation of your LLC complete, it is time to get your Employer Identification Number (EIN), which is like a Social Security Number for your business.
Your EIN will allow you to pay taxes, apply for licenses and permits, open a business bank account, and hire employees.
It’s fast, easy, and free to get your EIN. To apply for your EIN online, click here. Once you have completed your application, you will receive your number instantly.
You also have the option to mail in Form SS-4, but you will have to be prepared to wait up to 4 weeks for your EIN.
Step 6: Annual Report
All Hawaii LLCs must file an annual report with the Business Registration Division during the calendar quarter of the month on which your LLC was formed. You will receive a reminder from the state before your Annual Report is due so there is little excuse for missing this date.
You can file your annual report online for a filing fee of $15, here.
This annual report will make sure your public records are up-to-date and will keep you in good business standing within the state.
Step 7: Apply for Necessary Licenses and Permits
In the State of Hawaii, you must obtain a General Excise Tax License in order to operate as an LLC for a one-time fee of $20. You can apply for a license and file taxes online with the State of Hawaii Department of Taxation.
Depending on your LLC’s industry, as well as your county, you may need to apply for additional licenses or permits. You can find more information on additional licenses with the Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs on the Business Action Center website.
Alternatively, you can get in contact with your local county clerk to find out exactly what licenses or permits your LLC will need.
Step 8: Get Your Business Bank Account
A business bank account is not a legal requirement, but you do need one for your Hawaii LLC. A dedicated business bank account will make sure your personal and business finances remain independent of one another. This ensures your LLC’s legal protections can protect your finances in the event of a legal dispute with your company.
Use your newly obtained EIN to open a business bank account so that you can keep your personal and business finances separate from the early days of your business.
Step 9: Keep Essential Documents On-Site
You are legally required to keep certain documents on-site at your business’s principal address. If you’re going to work from home this won’t take any effort, but you need to be aware of it if you are going to be working from an office elsewhere.
The documents you are required to keep on-site are:
- an up-to-date list of names and addresses of all LLC members
- a copy of your Articles of Organization along with any actions and amendments
- a copy of the Operating Agreement, updated when applicable
- all recent financial statements
Once all 10 of these steps have been completed, your Hawaii LLC is ready to get to business!
Let Us Do the Hard Work for You
Hopefully, with this guide we have made things straightforward for you, however, that doesn’t mean following these steps won’t take some time. As you’ve probably noticed, there is a lot of filling in forms, and if you are not sure what information needs to go where it could take up even more of your time double-checking to make sure you have got everything right.
Don’t worry about it though! Our job is to take care of all the boring admin stuff for you so that you can focus on the more exciting things, such as getting your product or service up to standard and making sure your marketing strategy is ready to go. All you need to do is spend a few minutes filling in our short form and we’ll take care of everything for you, getting your LLC name registered, filing for your Articles of Organization, and even getting your EIN for you.