Starting a Hawaii LLC, step-by-step
Starting a Hawaii LLC costs $51. And it takes 10 days to get an LLC in Hawaii.
Here are the 6 steps to forming an LLC in Hawaii:
- Choose an LLC Name
- Select a Registered Agent
- File Articles of Organization
- Create an Operating Agreement
- Get an EIN
- Register for a State Tax Identification Number
If you want to form your LLC yourself, follow our free guide below.
If you want someone to take care of it for you, we recommend hiring Northwest Registered Agent
(We recommend Northwest. We've reviewed all the top companies in the industry. And Northwest is our #1 pick for prices, customer support, and address privacy. Check out Northwest vs LegalZoom to learn more.)
How much does it cost to start an LLC in Hawaii?
It costs $51 to start an LLC in Hawaii.
And then it costs $15 per year.
What are these fees for?
- The $51 is to file the Articles of Organization – the document that creates an LLC.
- The $15 per year is for your Annual Report – a mandatory filing that keeps your LLC in good standing.
To learn more about LLC Costs, see LLC Costs in Hawaii.
How long does it take to get an LLC in Hawaii?
If you file your LLC by mail, it will be approved in 7-10 business days (plus mail time).
But if you file online, your LLC will be approved in 7-10 business days.
Please see How long does it take to get an LLC in Hawaii to check for any delays.
Here are the steps to forming an LLC in Hawaii
1. Search your LLC Name
Search your Hawaii LLC Name to make sure it’s available in the state.
You need to do this because two businesses in the state can’t have the same name.
First, search your business name and compare it to existing businesses in Hawaii. You can make sure the LLC Name you want is unique from existing businesses using the Hawaii.gov: Search for Business Entity & Documents page.
Second, familiarize yourself with the Hawaii LLC naming guidelines (so your Hawaii LLC gets approved).
We’ll explain both in more detail here: Hawaii LLC Name.
2. Choose a Hawaii Registered Agent
The next step is to choose a Hawaii Registered Agent.
A Hawaii Registered Agent is a person or company who accepts legal mail and state notices on behalf of your Hawaii Limited Liability Company.
Who can be an LLC Registered Agent?
You have 3 options for who can be the Registered Agent:
- A friend or family member
- A Registered Agent Service
The Registered Agent for your LLC must have a physical street address in Hawaii. PO Boxes aren’t allowed.
And the Registered Agent’s name and address will be listed on public records.
If you don’t have an address in Hawaii, or you want more privacy, you can hire a Registered Agent Service for your LLC.
We recommend Northwest Registered Agent
Our favorite feature about Northwest is they’ll let you use their office address throughout your LLC filing. This way, you can keep your address off public records.
They’ll also scan any mail sent to your LLC and upload it to your online account.
Northwest has excellent customer service, and they’re who we trust to be our own Registered Agent.
3. File Hawaii LLC Articles of Organization
To start an LLC, you need to file the Hawaii Articles of Organization.
This gets filed with the Hawaii Business Registration Division: Department of Commerce & Consumer Affairs.
The Hawaii Articles of Organization costs $51 if you file online.
This is a one-time fee to create your LLC.
If you want to file this yourself, see our step-by-step guide: Hawaii Articles of Organization.
Or, you can hire a company to do it for you.
4. Create a Hawaii LLC Operating Agreement
A Hawaii LLC Operating Agreement serves as a “companion” document to the Articles of Organization.
The Articles of Organization creates your LLC, and the Operating Agreement shows who owns the LLC.
Additionally, some banks require an Operating Agreement when you open an LLC bank account.
And having an Operating Agreement will be very helpful if you ever end up in court. Reason being, it helps prove that your LLC is being run properly.
That’s why we recommend that all LLCs have an Operating Agreement – including Single-Member LLCs.
Furthermore, an Operating Agreement is an “internal document“. Meaning, you don’t need to file it with the state or the IRS (Internal Revenue Service). Just keep a copy with your business records.
You can download a free template below.
Then, learn how to fill it out by watching our step-by-step Hawaii Operating Agreement video.
5. Get an EIN for your LLC
The next step is to get a Hawaii EIN Number from the IRS for your LLC.
Note: An EIN Number is also called a Federal Tax ID Number or Federal Employer Identification Number.
An EIN Number is used to:
- identify your LLC for tax purposes
- open a business bank account
- apply for business licenses and permits
How much does an EIN cost?
Getting an EIN Number from the IRS is completely free.
How long does it take to get an EIN?
If you apply online, it takes 15 minutes.
If you apply by mail or fax, it can take 1-3 months.
How can I get an EIN?
US Citizens/US Residents: If you have an SSN or ITIN, you can apply for an EIN online. Follow these instructions: Apply for an EIN online.
Non-US Residents: You can’t get an EIN online, but you can still get one by fax or by mail. Follow these instructions: How to get an EIN without an SSN or ITIN.
6. Register for a Hawaii Tax Identification Number
All Hawaii LLCs must register with the Hawaii Department of Taxation and get a State Tax Identification Number.
This State Tax ID is required to do business in the state of Hawaii, and is different from your LLC’s federal EIN number.
How much does a Hawaii State Tax Identification Number cost?
A State Tax ID Number in Hawaii costs a minimum of $20. You may owe more depending on your LLC’s location, industry, and business activities.
How can I get a Hawaii State Tax Identification Number?
You can get a Hawaii Tax ID Number online through Hawaii Business Express, or you can file the form by mail.
You can read more about the Hawaii Tax ID Number requirement in the Department of Taxation’s Tax Facts: Licensing and Tax Information for New Businesses.
Important: You’ll also need your State Tax ID Number to pay General Excise Tax every year. And the amount of excise tax your LLC will need to pay depends on its business activities and industry.
What do I do after my LLC is approved?
After your Hawaii LLC is approved, there are some additional steps.
Open an LLC business bank account
You’ll want to open a business bank account for your LLC.
This makes accounting and record-keeping much easier for your business finances.
Having a separate business bank account also maintains your personal liability protection. This is because it keeps your business entity finances separate from your personal finances.
Get Hawaii business licenses and permits
Good news, Hawaii doesn’t have a state general business license.
However, depending on where your LLC is located, you may need a local business license or permit.
For example, if you want to start a daycare, you may need a business license from the city or county.
You can learn more on our Hawaii Business License page.
File your Hawaii LLC Annual Report
All Hawaii LLCs must file an Annual Report every year.
The Annual Report keeps your LLC in good standing with the state.
How much does a Hawaii LLC Annual Report cost?
The Annual Report filing fee is $15 per year.
When is the Annual Report due?
The state uses a quarterly system to determine the due date for your report.
When is my first Annual Report due?
Your first Annual Report is due the year after your LLC was approved.
For example, if your LLC was approved on February 15, 2023, your first Annual Report is due by March 31, 2024.
How do I file my LLC Annual Report?
You can file your LLC’s Annual Report online or by mail. We recommend the online filing because it’s easier to complete.
Follow our step-by-step guide here: Hawaii LLC Annual Report.
File and pay taxes
LLCs don’t pay federal taxes. Instead, the LLC Members pay the taxes for the LLC.
Said another way, the owners pay taxes for the LLC as a part of their personal tax return.
How will my LLC be taxed?
By default, a Hawaii LLC is taxed by the IRS based on the number of owners your LLC has:
- A Single-Member LLC is taxed like a Sole Proprietorship.
- A Multi-Member LLC is taxed like a Partnership.
Alternatively, you can ask the IRS to tax your LLC like a C-Corporation or S-Corporation.
Besides federal taxes, there are also state and local income taxes – and general excise tax.
Learn more in Hawaii LLC Taxes.
How to Start an LLC in Hawaii FAQs
Can I start an LLC online in Hawaii?
Yes, you can file your LLC online in Hawaii. The Articles of Organization filing fee is $51.
When you start your LLC online, it will be approved in 7-10 business days.
What are the benefits of an LLC?
The first benefit of an LLC is protecting your personal assets. Meaning, if your business is sued, your personal assets – like your home, cars, and bank accounts – are protected.
This protection applies to all LLC owners (called LLC Members). It doesn’t matter if you have a Single-Member LLC or Multi-Member LLC. All of the LLC owners are protected from the business debts and liabilities.
This type of protection wouldn’t apply if you operate as a Sole Proprietorship or Partnership. With these types of informal business structures, the owners aren’t protected in the event of a lawsuit. For that reason, Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) are a much more popular business structure.
Another benefit is LLC pass-through taxation. This means the LLC itself doesn’t pay federal income taxes. Instead, the profits “pass through” to the LLC Members. And the Members pay the taxes on their personal tax return.
And Hawaii state income taxes are very similar, since the state honors the federal tax treatment of your LLC.
To learn more, please see How are LLCs taxed.
Is Hawaii a good state to start an LLC?
Whether Hawaii is a good state to start an LLC depends on where you live – and where you’re doing business.
Meaning, if you live in or do business in Hawaii, then you should start your LLC in Hawaii. While many websites talk about tax rates and advantages of certain states, none of that applies if it’s not the state where you live and do business.
For example, if you form an LLC in Delaware, but live in and conduct business in Hawaii, you’ll also need to register your Delaware LLC in Hawaii (and pay extra fees). And you’ll end up paying Hawaii taxes anyway. This ends up leading to more costs and more headaches with no advantages.
In summary, if you live in and conduct business in Hawaii, then yes, Hawaii is a good state to start a business. If you don’t live in and do business in Hawaii, then no, Hawaii isn’t a good state to start a business.
Real estate exception: If you’re purchasing real estate outside of Hawaii, you should form your LLC in the state where the property is located.
For more information, please see Best State to Form an LLC.