How to Get a Business License in Hawaii

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It is simpler to get a business license in Hawaii than in many other states because the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs there has centralized and streamlined the process. You must have both a state and a city/county business license in Hawaii, however. It’s necessary to start at the state level. Local governments won’t issue a business license (also called a business tax registration ID) until state requirements are met. You will need a separate license for each business location.

Things You'll Need

  • Appropriate professional or trade credentials
  • Federal Employer Identification Number (except for self-employed)
  • Other permits as required by state and local regulations
  • DBA (Doing Business As) business name registration

Contact the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (Business Registration Division) to find out the professional qualifications you need to get a business license in Hawaii. For businesses related to health care, education and trades like electrician, licenses and/or certifications are required. Contact the Business Registration Division online (link below) or by phone on Oahu at 808-586-2727. Look under Tips (below) for telephone numbers if you are on another island.

Register a DBA name (also called a Fictitious Business Name) for your business. The forms are available from the Business Registration Division online, or you call by phone. Having a DBA prevents others from using the name of your business and allows you to accept checks and carry out other transactions using the name of your business.

Register with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS.gov) to get a federal Employer Identification Number (EIN), unless the business is a sole proprietorship without other employees. You also need a Hawaii state Employer Identification Number and sales tax ID. You can apply for these through the Hawaii Department of Taxation (link below).

Apply for a business license in Hawaii by contacting the Business Registration Division. You can download the forms from its website or request it by phone (see Step 1). You must file documentation verifying you have all the documents mentioned in Steps 1-3. Fees vary according to the type of business, so sure you have the correct amount or the application will not be processed.

Contact your county or city agency to get a local business license and permits. Local permits may include a building permit or occupancy license. Some businesses require special permits as well. For example, a food service establishment must have a food service permit. Include copies of all the state documentation along with your application.

Tips & Warnings

  • To contact the Business Registration Division from islands other than Oahu, dial the following numbers followed by 6-2727 and the # sign: Kauai 274-3141, Maui 984-2400, Hawaii 974-4000. On Molokai or Lanai call 1-800-468-4644.

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