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Hawaii Licenses, Permits and Registration

1) Tax Registration

Businesses that operate within Hawaii must adhere to state tax registration regulations. For example, businesses with at least one employee are required to register for income tax withholding, sales and use tax (seller’s permit), and unemployment insurance tax. Business owners may contact the Hawaii Business Express to obtain tax-specific identification numbers, licenses and permits, or to request information about business registration.

  • Hawaii Business Express
  • General Tax Information and Forms

2) Business Licenses

The State of Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Business Registration Division is in charge of business registration for corporations, partnerships, limited liability companies (LLC) and limited liability partnerships. The agency utilizes streamlined forms and provides free online resources.

The nature of your business and the products and/or services that you produce, sell or trade will determine the type of business license and permits you need to legally operate your business within Hawaii. You may also require one or more professional and occupational licenses.

You may be required to obtain permits and licenses from your city or county government; however, requirements vary by jurisdiction. Common types of local permits and licenses include business licenses and tax permits, which are available through your city or county clerk; building permits, which are available through your city or county building and planning department; health permits, which are available through your city or county health department; occupational permits, which are available through your city or county building and planning development department; signage permits, which are available through your city or county building and planning department; alarm permits, which are available through your city or county police; and zoning permits, which are available through your city or county building and planning department.

  • Business and Occupational Licenses

3) Incorporation Filing

Businesses in Hawaii must obtain a business license as well as any other permits and professional licenses before becoming fully operational. In Hawaii, a registered business entity can file for Registration of Trade Name (Form T-1) as long as the name is different from its registered name.

  • Business Entity Registration – Forms and Applications

4) Doing Business As (DBA)

In Hawaii, you can operate a business using a fictitious name, also known as Doing Business As or DBA. A DBA filing allows you to create a name for your business that is different from your personal name, but unique to all others. A DBA does not have to include the names of your partners or the officially registered name of your LLC or corporation.

  • Register a Business Name

5) Employer Requirements

Basic registration requirements for businesses with employees are as follows:

1.)  Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN). An EIN is a unique nine-digit number used by the Internal Revenue Service to distinguish business tax returns. Business partnerships, corporations and employers can submit an application for an EIN by calling 800-829-4933. Online applications are also available during hours of operation. Generally, businesses need a new EIN when there is a change in ownership or structure.

2.)  Set up records for withholding taxes and maintain a permanent filing system for at least four years in case of an audit.

3.)  Have all newly hired employees complete an Employment Eligibility Verification Form, commonly referred to as an I-9 form. This form is used to verify an employee’s eligibility to work in the U.S.

4.)  Obtain business insurance, including workers’ compensation insurance, unemployment insurance and disability insurance (if required).

5.)  Display workplace posters as directed by state law.

6.)  File federal and state taxes.

7.)  Set up workplace recordkeeping, enforce workplace safety practices, research federally mandated employee benefit plans, and comply with all equal opportunity and fair labor standards.

Other requirements include the following:

Withholding Income Taxes

To support good recordkeeping habits, you should create financial statements, keep track of deductible expenses and receipts, and keep your tax returns and any documents that support the information provided therein for at least four years.

Federal Income Tax Withholding (Form W-4)

You must provide every newly hired employee with a signed withholding exemption certificate (Form W-4) and issue a copy to the IRS as directed.

  • Employer’s Tax Guide

Federal Wage and Tax Statement (Form W-2)

Report to the federal government the annual wages and taxes withheld from the previous calendar year for each employee using Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement.

You have until the last day of February (or last day of March if you file electronically) to submit Copy A of Forms W-2 to the Social Security Administration.

  • State tax agency
  • Employer W-2 Filing Instructions and Information

Visit your state tax agency for further information on state withholding requirements.

Employee Eligibility Verification (I-9 Form)

You must verify an employee’s eligibility to work in the U.S. within three days of hiring the new employee. Download Form I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification), along with Instructions for Completing the I-9: Handbook for Employers from IRS.gov. You can find a comprehensive rundown of the immigration laws most important to small-business owners in theSmall Business Guide to Immigration Regulations , which is also available at IRS.gov .

New Hire Reporting

Report newly hired and re-hired employees to the Hawaii State Directory of New Hires within three days of hiring the new employee.

  • Report New Hires

6) Insurance Requirements

Disability Insurance

Temporary disability insurance is paid to workers who are required to take time off work due to a non-work-related illness or injury. You must deduct disability insurance tax from each employee, and then report the tax to the state as directed.

Unemployment Insurance Tax

Register your business with your Hawaii workforce agency if you are required to pay unemployment insurance taxes. Not all businesses are required to pay this tax.

You must purchase Workers’ Compensation Insurance through a commercial carrier, on a self-insured basis, or through the state Workers’ Compensation Insurance program.