How to Register a Trade Name in Hawaii

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Quick Reference

In Hawaii, a business operating under a fictitious business name may want to register a Trade Name.  Learn more about what a Trade Name is, who needs one and how to register.

What is a Trade Name?

A Trade Name, also known as “Doing Business As,” DBA, Assumed Name, or Fictitious Name, is a name used by a business that is different from the legal name of the business.   This name is often referred to as a Trade Name in Hawaii.

More information about the laws behind Trade Name registration can be found in Hawaii Statutes § 482-2.

What is a Trade Name good for?

A Trade Name is required for many businesses to legally operate and provides information on the people operating a business.  In addition to the legal requirement, a Trade Name offers other benefits such as proving the existence of a business, opening a bank account under a business name, registering a merchant account to accept credit cards, and others.

Who needs to register for a Hawaii Trade Name?

It is voluntary to register for a fictitious business name in Hawaii.  There are a few reasons a business may want to register.  

Sole proprietorships and general partnerships are the most common entities to register for a DBA. 

The legal name of a sole proprietor or partnership can be the owner’s full first and last name, which can be used without registering.  For example, if John Smith starts a business repairing computers but doesn’t use a business name, he doesn’t have to register.  If John decides to name his business John’s Computer Repair, then he will need to register. 

A few reasons a sole proprietorship or partnership will want to register a Trade Name:

  • Proves the business exists.
  • Banks, merchant processors, and vendors may require one.
  • No other business can register the same name or obtain a trademark for that name in Hawaii.

Corporations, Limited Liability Companies, and Limited Liability Partnerships won’t typically register a fictitious name since a unique entity name is created during the formation process.  Some will file for a DBA if they have another business they want to operate under their corporate/LLC/LLP umbrella to keep the liability protection without having to form another entity.

Related: Difference between a sole proprietorship and Limited Liability Company (LLC)

How much does a Trade Name cost in Hawaii?

To cost to register for a Trade Name in Hawaii is $50.  This registration is renewed every five years.

 

Save Time & Hassles

LegalZoom offers an inexpensive online DBA registration service that lets you register a business name in just one easy step. Learn more

 

Hawaii DBA Registration Form

Application for Registration of Trade Name ( Form T-1 ) – https://cca.hawaii.gov/breg/files/2017/01/T-1-Application-for-Registration-of-Trade-Name-2017_11-9-16.pdf

Online – https://hbe.ehawaii.gov/BizEx/home.eb

What are the steps to file a DBA in Hawaii?

Step 1 – Check Available Names

In Hawaii, Trade Names are registered by the Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Business Registration Division.  In order to register a name, the name must be unique and not similar to other registered names. 

Learn more about using the business database search to find available names in Hawaii.

Additionally, applicants need to search the telephone directory of each island, the city directory, and the Hawaii Department of Taxation to verify no other business is using the name you want to register. 

Something to note is that if a business name isn’t used by the applicant for 365 consecutive days, the Trade Name may be revoked and available for anyone to register.

Step 2 – Fill out and File the Form

After verifying the name you want to use is available, the Application for Registration of Trade Name and either submitted online or by mailing the form

Information on the form includes:

  • Name and address of the applicant
  • Type of business entity
  • Name being requested
  • What the business does

Step 3 – Submit the Form

Submit the form along with the filing fee. 
Mailed forms are sent to:
Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs
P.O. Box 40
Honolulu, Hawaii 96810

Are there any words you can’t use in a Trade Name?

Trade Names can’t be registered using words that are related to banking, financial services, or insurance unless the business is licensed to provide those services.

Can someone steal my business name?

While registering your Trade Name will keep someone else from registering the exact same name in Hawaii, it does very little from someone else operating a business under that name in other states. If stopping others from using your business name is important, you can protect it through a trademark.

Learn more about trademarking a business name.

Related: What is the difference between a trademark, copyright, and patent?

Does a Trade Name need an EIN?

An EIN or Employer Identification Number is a unique nine-digit number that some businesses will register for through the Internal Revenue Department (IRS). An EIN is required for partnerships, corporations, multi-member LLCs, or any company that has employees.

Sole proprietorships and single-member LLCs without employees can use the owner’s social security number to identify the business.

There is no cost to get an EIN when registering directly from the IRS.

Related: How to register for an EIN in Hawaii

Questions?

If you have questions about the process, contact the

Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs
breg@dcca.hawaii.gov
808-586-2727

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