Hawaii Business Name Search (LLC lookup) - 2024 Guide

Home » Hawaii LLC » Hawaii Business Name Search (LLC lookup) - 2024 Guide

LLC names
A unique business name is important for branding, but it’s easy to get lost in all the Hawaii business name rules.

This page will teach you how to look up your LLC name and make sure it’s available to use.

Hawaii LLC name

If you file your Hawaii LLC paperwork with a name that is already used by another Hawaii business entity – or that doesn’t meet the Hawaii name rules – your filing may be rejected.

The first step to checking if your LLC name passes is to make sure your name is not already taken by another business.

You can do this using the Business & Documents Search (aka Business Entity Search). And you need to do this because two business entities in the state can’t have the same name or be too similar.

The second step is to make sure your LLC name follows the Hawaii Department of Commerce’s rules, which we’ve broken down below.

How do I search the Hawaii business entity name database?

You can use the business entity search to search your business name against the existing business entities registered in Hawaii.

Note: This tool is sometimes called the Hawaii Business & Documents Search, Hawaii Business Name Search or the Hawaii Business Entity Search. They all refer to the same website and get you the same search records.

Visit the Hawaii Business Entity Search page:

Hawaii Department of Commerce: Business & Documents Search

It’s simple to use: Enter your desired LLC name in the “Business Name” field and click Search.

Screenshot with instructions on how to use the Hawaii Business Entity Search

You should leave the Search Mode dropdown set to “Begins with…”. Don’t change it to “Contains” – you’ll get a ton of irrelevant results that way.

Search tips:

  • Leave out “LLC”, “L.L.C.”, “Limited Liability Company”, etc., when doing your searches.
  • Leave out any commas, periods, apostrophes, etc.
  • You can search using uppercase or lowercase letters.


How to interpret the Hawaii LLC search results

If the results show names that are not too similar to yours (meaning yours is distinguishable), then your Limited Liability Company name is available for use.

  • Let’s keep using the example above. If your desired name is Riverwalk Studios LLC, and the only similar names you saw were “Riverwalk Rentals” and “Riverwalk Studio Starters”, then your name should be available.
Screenshot of sample results from the Hawaii Business Entity Search
Example of Hawaii Business Entity Search results

If no results show up, that means your LLC name is unique and it should be available for use. To be safe, run your search again using only part of your LLC name (to double-check that there are no similar names).

  • For example, search just the word “Riverwalk” instead of Riverwalk Studios.

If your exact LLC name appears in the list of search records, your LLC name is not available for use because another Hawaii business entity is already using it.

If the results show a name that is very similar to yours, your LLC name may not be available for use.

  • If your desired name is Riverwalk Studios LLC, and the search results show a “Riverwalk Studio”, then your name is not available.

What if my desired LLC name isn’t available?

If your name is not unique, you’ll need to come up with a variation or a different name for your LLC.

Tip: Wait until your LLC is approved before you apply for your LLC EIN Number or purchase any other marketing materials. This way you don’t spend money on business supplies you can’t use because your business name isn’t available.

When in doubt, call the Department of Commerce

You can call the Hawaii Department of Commerce to confirm that your LLC name is available.

Not all states offer this service, but the representatives in Hawaii will help you use the Hawaii Business Name Search and Name Availability Search to figure out whether your business name is available.

The Business Registration Division phone number is 808-586-2727. Their hours are Monday through Friday, from 8am to 4:30pm Hawaii Time.

Hawaii Limited Liability Company Name Requirements

As per Section 428-105 of the Hawaii LLC Act, there are a few rules and requirements for naming a Hawaii business entity that you need to know.

Do I have to use a comma in my LLC name?

No, you don’t have to. You can file your LLC name with or without a comma. Both versions are accepted by the Department of Commerce.

For example: If your desired business name is Grandpa Joe’s, you can file it as:

  • Grandpa Joe’s LLC
  • Grandpa Joe’s, LLC

Or, instead of having “LLC” as your designator (ending), there are a few other options in Hawaii.

What designators (endings) can I use in my LLC name?

Your Hawaii LLC name must contain one of the following designators at the end:

  • LLC
  • L.L.C.
  • Limited Liability Co.
  • Limited Liability Company
  • Ltd. Liability Co.
  • Ltd. Liability Company

The following designators are not allowed

Your Hawaii LLC can’t make itself sound like a Hawaii Corporation or any other business entity besides an LLC.

The following words and designators can’t be used anywhere in your LLC name:

  • Inc.
  • Corp.
  • Incorporated
  • Corporation

What words are not allowed in my Hawaii LLC name?

Your Hawaii LLC name can’t contain words and abbreviations that are restricted by law.

For example, you can’t make your LLC name sound like it’s a bank, part of the government or a government agency, or anything else that misleads the public.

You also can’t use words that are reserved for licensed professionals. These vary by state, but some common examples are accountants, architects, attorneys, dentists, and engineers.

And you can’t have an LLC name that is just the name of a geographic place or landmark. So the name “Honolulu Garden Advisors LLC” would be an acceptable name. But you can’t register simply “Honolulu LLC”.

For more information about restricted words for a Hawaii business entity, please see this page: Hawaii Business Naming Rules.

Your Hawaii business name must be distinguishable (unique)

When you search the Hawaii Department of Commerce Business Entity Search, you will compare your desired LLC name to existing businesses in the state.

If your name is not unique, you’ll need to come up with a variation or a different business name.

Below are rules and examples of LLC names that are not distinguishable.

Designators

Differences in designators (endings) don’t create distinguishability.

If your desired LLC name is Lani’s Fishing LLC, it’s not available to use if any of the following are found in the Hawaii Business Name Search results:

  • Lani’s Fishing, Inc.
  • Lani’s Fishing, Corp.
  • Lani’s Fishing, L.L.C.

Adding Business Entity Suffixes

Hawaii also has a rule that you can’t add “business entity” suffix words to create distinguishability. The Department of Commerce calls this the “double use of business entity suffix or affix”.

Business entity suffix words include:

  • Partners
  • Partnership
  • Company
  • Companies

Adding one of these words to an existing business name doesn’t create distinguishability.

To continue the example above, let’s say your desired LLC name is Lani’s Fishing LLC. But there’s already a Lani’s Fishing Inc., so it’s not available to use.

The following names are also not available, because they aren’t distinguishable from Lani’s Fishing Inc.:

  • Lani’s Fishing Partners LLC
  • Lani’s Fishing Company LLC

You’d have to come up with a different name that adds a more meaningful word. For example, Lani’s Ocean Fishing LLC would be distinguishable from Lani’s Fishing Inc.

Filler Words

Adding non-meaningful or filler words won’t create distinguishability.

These English filler words won’t create distinguishability:

  • a
  • an
  • and
  • n (to mean “and”)
  • the
  • of
  • in
  • at
  • on
  • to
  • for

And these Hawaiian filler words won’t create distinguishability:

  • da
  • ka
  • ke
  • na
  • la

If your desired LLC name is Sun and Moon LLC, it’s not available to use if any of the following are found:

  • The Sun and Moon LLC
  • Sun Moon Inc.
  • A Sun A Moon, Ltd. Liability Co.
  • Ke Sun and Moon LLC
  • Sun on Moon Corp.

Plural or Singular Words and Possessive Words

Adding a letter “s” to make a word plural or possessive doesn’t create distinguishability.

If your desired LLC name is Paulo’s Flowers LLC, it’s not available to use if any of the following are found:

  • Paulos Flowers LLC
  • Paulo’s Flower Inc.
  • Paulo Flower, L.L.C.

Numerals or Spelled Out Numbers

Using numerals (like 5 or 101) instead of spelling out the number (like “five” or “one hundred and one”) doesn’t create distinguishability. And using Roman numerals (like V for 5, or MMXII for 2012) doesn’t create distinguishability either.

If your desired LLC name is 25 Stars LLC, it’s not available to use if any of the following are found:

  • Twenty-Five Stars LLC
  • Twenty 5 Stars Inc.
  • XXV Stars Ltd. Liability Co.

Adding Sequential Numbers or Letters

Simply adding a number or letter to an existing business name doesn’t create distinguishability. For example, let’s say your desired LLC name is Tropical Development LLC. But there’s already a company called Tropical Development 1 LLC. You can’t register Tropical Development LLC; you can’t register Tropical Development 2 LLC, either.

The same applies to sequential letters. If an existing Hawaii company is named Aloha Apartments A Inc., you can’t register the name Aloha Apartments B LLC.

Punctuation, Symbols, Spaces

Adding or removing punctuation, symbols and spaces doesn’t create distinguishability.

If your desired LLC name is Honeybee Soapstore LLC, it’s not available to use if any of the following are found:

  • Honeybee-Soap-Store Inc.
  • Honeybee/Soapstore, Limited Liability Co.
  • Honey Bee Soap Store, L.L.C.

Phonetic Spelling of the same name or word

Using a different spelling (a phonetic spelling) of the same name or word doesn’t create distinguishability. The rule in Hawaii says that business names can’t be so similar that they are “likely to create confusion upon oral communication.”

Said another way: if the spelling is different but the names sound the same, they aren’t distinguishable.

If your desired LLC name is Boys Baskets LLC, it’s not available to use if any of the following are found:

  • Boyz Basketz LLC
  • Boiz Baskets Corp.
  • Boys Bassketts Ltd. Co.

Abbreviation vs Complete Name or Word

Using an abbreviation instead of a complete word (or vice versa) doesn’t create distinguishability. This also applies to universally accepted short forms of words (like “bros” instead of “brothers”).

If your desired LLC name is New York Pizza Bros. LLC, it’s not available to use if any of the following are found:

  • NY Pizza Bros, L.C.
  • NY Pizza Brothers, Ltd. Liability Co.
  • New York Pizza Brothers Inc.

Business Search Tips for Abbreviations

If you want to use an abbreviation, or a word that has a commonly-used abbreviation, make sure you search for the abbreviation and the complete word when you use the Business Entity Search to check availability.

For example: If you wanted to use the word “February” in your business name, make sure you also search for the business name using “Feb” instead. Or if you wanted to use the abbreviation “Ed” for Education, make sure you also search for “Education” and “Edu”.

The Word “Hawaii”

Adding the word “Hawaii” (or the abbreviation HI) won’t create distinguishability. This rule applies whether you add the name Hawaii to the beginning of the business name or the end of it.

If your desired LLC name is Calm Waters LLC, it’s not available to use if any of the following are found:

  • HI Calm Waters Inc.
  • Hawaii Calm Waters Ltd. Liability Co.
  • Calm Waters Hawaii LLC

How to create distinguishability in Hawaii

The easiest way to create a distinguishable business name is to come up with something completely unique. This is the best method, because it also avoids confusion for your customers.

But if you’re really attached to a name idea but it’s very similar to an existing business, we can help.

Here are two tricks for how you can distinguish your desired LLC name from other business names in the state.

Adding a suffix, prefix or affix

If you modify a word in the business name enough, the names will be distinguishable.

Let’s say your desired LLC name is Ailani Creative Solutions LLC. But there’s already a Hawaii corporation named Ailani Creative Solutions Inc.

You could try registering one of these alternatives instead:

  • Ailani Creativity Solutions LLC
  • Ailani Creating Solutions LLC

Word Order

If you rearrange the words in a business name, the names will be distinguishable.

Let’s say you want to name your company Black Coral Beach LLC. But there’s already a Black Coral Beach Inc. in Hawaii. You could name your company any of these instead:

  • Black Beach Coral LLC
  • Beach Black Coral LLC
  • Coral Beach Black LLC

What if my Hawaii business name is rejected?

If you file your Hawaii Articles of Organization (the document that creates your Hawaii LLC) and the business name is not available, don’t panic. The state will notify you and tell you why your filing was rejected.

You will just need to file again with a variation of your LLC name or a different LLC name.

Hawaii Business Name FAQs

Do I need a name reservation in Hawaii?

No, a name reservation isn’t required to form an LLC in Hawaii. It’s an unnecessary step and a waste of money.

You can just file your LLC’s Articles of Organization with your desired LLC name.

Does Hawaii require LLC in the name?

Yes. Your Hawaii LLC name must contain one of the allowable designators at the end. The most commonly used designators are:

  • LLC
  • Limited Liability Company
  • Ltd. Liability Co.
Does my Hawaii LLC need a DBA?

No, you’re not required to file a DBA (“Doing Business As”) for your business entity in Hawaii.

A DBA (known as a Trade Name in Hawaii) lets your LLC conduct business under a name which is different from its true and legal name (the name on your Articles of Organization).

If you want your LLC to do business under a name that’s different from its true and legal name, you have to file a Trade Name Registration online or by mail. You will pay an additional fee of $50 to the Department of Commerce. Check out the Department of Commerce Trade Name Guide for more information on this process.

If you are going to file a Trade Name for your Hawaii LLC, it must also be distinguishable from existing business names in the state.

There is no limit to the number of Trade Names an LLC can have.

For more information, please see Does my LLC need a DBA?

When would my LLC use a DBA?

Let’s say you form an LLC called Valley Isle Cruise Lines LLC, but you also want to use a friendlier, catchy name, like Valley Isle Cruises. In this case, your LLC would need to file a Trade Name Registration to use the name Valley Isle Cruises.

If you don’t file a Trade Name Registration for a different name, you can only use your legal entity name of Valley Isle Cruise Lines LLC.

How do I get a business domain name?

Once you’ve found a business name that you like, it’s a good idea to check if your domain name is available before forming your LLC.

You can search for available domain names with GoDaddy:

What does “distinguishability” mean?

Each business entity name must be “distinguishable upon the records” of the Department of Commerce.

This means that no two businesses can operate with the same exact name. Said another way, if a business already exists with your desired LLC name, you can’t register your LLC with that name.

For example, let’s say you want to form an LLC called Kamehameha Landscapers LLC. But there is already a business in another town called Kamehameha Landscapers, Inc. Because your desired LLC name is the same as that existing Hawaii Corporation, it is not distinguishable. You can’t use it and must choose another name.

How do I come up with a business name?

Business names are important for branding and recognition. The name of your Hawaii LLC can be your company’s brand name, but it doesn’t have to be (please see the FAQ about DBAs above). Either way, picking a good LLC name is an important decision.

Here are some quick tips for coming up with business names:

  1. First, write down the features of your company and things that you want to be associated with.
  2. Then list out as many business names as you can think of. Don’t edit or analyze them. Just get as many names on the page as you can.
  3. Now go back and read through them. Write down any variations that come to mind.
  4. Next, set the list aside. Do something else, like go for a walk or get groceries, or sleep on it for the night. Then come back and review the list of names. As you go through it, write down additional ideas and variations.
  5. Read the whole list out loud. If you want, get input from friends, business partners, and family.
  6. Repeat the process: sleep on the ideas, write down new variations, read them out loud again.
  7. The best business name will often “rise off the page” and present itself. If it doesn’t, you can try this trick: Close your eyes and count to 10. When you get to 10, you must choose a name. When you open your eyes, force yourself to make a decision. Sometimes we know the best name deep in our subconscious, and this trick can help it come out. Trust yourself and go with what feels best.

For more tips, please see How to Choose an LLC Name.

Can I use the name of another Hawaii entity?

No. You can’t use the same name as another Hawaii business.

And it doesn’t matter what entity type it is – your LLC can’t have the same entity name as another corporation, LLC, or any other entity type.

You can’t use another business’s name even if the entity is in “delinquent” status on the Hawaii Department of Commerce website.

But if a business is dissolved, they no longer have rights to that name. This means you can form an LLC with the same name.

How do I change my LLC name?

You can change your LLC’s name later by filing an Amendment form with the Department of Commerce.

We have step-by-step instructions on how to change an LLC name in Hawaii.

How to start an LLC in Hawaii?

Here are the steps to starting an LLC in Hawaii:

  1. Choose an LLC name and make sure it’s available
  2. Choose who will be your Hawaii Registered Agent
  3. File the Hawaii LLC Articles of Organization
  4. Complete and sign an LLC Operating Agreement
  5. Get a Tax ID Number (EIN) from the IRS
  6. Open an LLC bank account
  7. Check whether you need a business or sales tax license in Hawaii
Matt Horwitz
Matt Horwitz
Matt Horwitz is the leading expert on LLC education, and has been teaching for 15 years. He founded LLC University in 2010 after realizing people needed simple and actionable instructions to start an LLC. He's cited by Entrepreneur Magazine, Yahoo Finance, and the US Chamber of Commerce, and was featured by CNBC and InventRight.
 
Matt holds a Bachelor's Degree in business from Drexel University with a concentration in business law. He performs extensive research and analysis to convert state laws into simple instructions anyone can follow to form their LLC - all for free! Read more about Matt Horwitz and LLC University.

Want our free email course?

Get simple LLC lessons sent right to your inbox.

Thanks! You're subscribed √
Your email address is already subscribed.

Leave a comment or question

Comments are temporarily disabled.

×