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How to Register a Trade Name (DBA) in Hawaii

How to Register a Trade Name (DBA) in Hawaii

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.

Related: How to start a business in Hawaii

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 type of entities to register for a DBA, but again, this registration is optional. 

The legal name of a sole proprietor or partnership can be the owner’s full first and last name, but most will use a business name.

While this is an optional registration, there are a few reasons that sole proprietorship or partnership will want to register a Trade Name:

  • Proves the small 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 Hawaii DBA name 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.

How much does a Trade Name cost in Hawaii?

To cost to register for a Trade Name in Hawaii is $50. 

What are the steps to file a Hawaii DBA?

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 how to do a Hawaii Trade Name search.

Additionally, applicants need to search the local phone directories of each island, the city directory, and the Hawaii Department of Taxation to verify no other business is using the name they 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 (Form T-1 ) and either submit online through the Hawaii Business Express website or by mailing the form

Information needed on the form includes:
– Name and address of the applicant
– Status of the applicant (type of business entity)
– Name being requested
– Nature of the business

Step 3: Submit the Form

Either file online, in-person, or submit the form along with the filing fee by email, mail, or fax. Email, mail, or fax filings will need to include the Trade Name form and credit card information.

In-person: Filings can be made at any of the Hawaii Business Action Centers.

By email: breg-doci-filing@dcca.hawaii.gov

By mail:
Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs
P.O. Box 40
Honolulu, Hawaii 96810

By fax: (808) 586-2733

If you have questions about the process, contact the
Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs:
breg@dcca.hawaii.gov
808-586-2727

If you would prefer to have a someone else research DBA name availability and file the required forms, Swyft Filings, MyCompanyWorks, and LegalZoom offer a DBA registration service for $99, plus state fees.

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

Trade Names can’t be registered using words that are related to a financial institution (such as financial services, banker, credit union, etc.), insurance, or Certified Public Accountant (CPA) unless the business is licensed to provide those services.

A Trade Name can’t use a business entity suffix that is different from the type of entity. For example, a sole proprietorship can’t use LLC or corporation in its name.

Names also can’t be registered if they are similar to a government agency, such as FBI, Treasury, etc.

Do I need a DBA in Hawaii?

It is not mandatory to register a DBA in Hawaii; however, there are many cases where it is beneficial, such as verifying the business’s existence to open a business bank account or set up a vendor account.

Does a DBA need an EIN?

An EIN or Employer Identification Number (also informally called a business tax ID number) is a unique nine-digit number that some businesses will register for through the Internal Revenue Department (IRS). An EIN is required for certain types of business structures, such as partnerships, corporations, multi-member LLCs, or any business 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

How long is a Hawaii DBA good for?

The Hawaii Trade Name needs to be renewed every five years. The Trade Name can be renewed at any time within six months before the expiration date.