What Business Licenses & Permits are Needed in Hawaii?

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What Business Licenses & Permits are Needed in Hawaii?

Starting a business in Hawaii will mean potentially registering with a number of federal, state, and local agencies. Let’s take a look at common licenses and permits a business will register for in Hawaii.

Before applying for any licenses, the legal structure of the business will need to be established. Learn more about the differences between the sole proprietorship, general partnership, corporation, and Limited Liability Company (LLC)

Related: Comparison of Business Entities

Also see: Steps to Starting a Business in Hawaii

General Business License

There is no general business license from the state, however, many counties require businesses to be licensed in order to operate. Rules for business registration vary depending on location and what the business does. Below are a few cities that have licensing requirements.

Hawaii – Several types of businesses are licensed in Hawaii County, such as auctioneers, firearm sales, dance halls, pawnbrokers, and second-hand dealers.

Home-based businesses will need to complete a Home Occupation Declaration from the County of Hawaii Planning Department.

Maui – Maui County has a few requirements for businesses, such as liquor licenses and zoning.

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Building & Zoning Permits

Zoning – Depending on the location of the business, it’s important to verify whether the business needs an occupancy permit or has specific zoning regulations to follow. Depending on city requirements, home-based businesses may need to apply for a home occupation permit.

Building PermitA building permit may be needed from the city or county building and planning department if there is any construction or renovations to a facility.

Signage Permit Some municipalities require a permit before adding signage.

Hawaii Tax Identification Number

Any entity conducting business activities within Hawaii is required to register Form BB-1 – State of Hawaii Basic Business Application. The BB-1 Form allows a business to register for a variety of tax licenses and permits with the Hawaii Department of Taxation, with the most common being the General Excise Tax license (GET). The GET takes the place of sales tax in Hawaii. There is a $20 one-time filing fee

Hawaii does not have a sales tax but instead has the General Excise Tax, which is a tax that applies to all gross receipts or gross income of a business. Additionally, businesses located in Oahu County may also be subject to the Oahu County Surcharge Tax.

Resale Certificate

Businesses purchasing merchandise to resell will usually want to obtain a Hawaii Resale Certificate (also called a seller’s permit or sales tax permit) in order to not pay sales tax for merchandise that is being resold to customers.

Occupational License

A variety of occupations in the state are regulated and need to be registered before offering certain services. A few different professions that require licensing in Hawaii include; accountants, contractors, vehicle repair, pest control, private detectives, and many more. Additional information, fees, and licensing requirements for professions are available from the Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Professional and Vocational Licensing Division (DCCA).

In addition to professional licenses, businesses in a variety of industries such as food establishments, daycares, salvage yards, and many others require licensing.

Employer Identification Number (EIN)

Many businesses will register with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for an EIN (also referred to as a FEIN, Federal Employer Identification Number, or Federal Tax ID Number). The EIN is the business equivalent for a Social Security Number for an individual. Corporations, Limited Liability Companies, Partnerships, and Sole Proprietorships with employees will all need to register for one. Sole Proprietorships without employees can use the owner’s Social Security Number.

There is no cost for an EIN, and it only takes a few minutes to get.

Learn how to apply for an EIN

Trade Name Registration

While not a business license, it’s common for Sole Proprietorships and Partnerships operating under a name that is different from the full name of the owner(s) to register for a Trade Name (also known as a Doing Business As, DBA, or Fictitious Name) with the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Business Registration Division.

These are some of the most common business licenses, but there are far too many licenses and permits for us to keep track of. Before starting your business, be sure to check with the Hawaii Business Action Center, County Clerk, Chamber of Commerce, and/or Economic Developer in your area to get more information regarding business licensing.

For some additional peace of mind, companies like IncFile or CorpNet can do the research and ensure you have all of the proper federal, state, and local licenses to start your business.

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