How to get a business license in Hawaii

Updated on December 21, 2023


Securing the correct licensing is a critical step for legally operating your business in Hawaii. This guide provides a detailed overview of the licensing requirements, including the types of licenses available, the application process, associated costs, necessary documents, compliance maintenance, and special considerations specific to Hawaii.

Who Needs a Business License in Hawaii?

Most commercial businesses require licensing in Hawaii, including retailers, restaurants, service providers, rental properties, contractors, and independent professionals.

Penalties for non-compliance include fines up to $2,000 per violation, closure after multiple offenses, and potential criminal charges.

Understanding Hawaii Business Licenses

Common Hawaii business licenses include:

  • General business or county licenses – Needed in most areas
  • Tax licenses – To collect and remit general excise tax
  • Professional and vocational licenses – For specialized services and trades
  • Specialized licenses – Agriculture, liquor, motor vehicle sales, etc.

Preparing to Apply for a License

Start by identifying the licenses your business requires using Hawaii’s Business Express portal. Prepare documents for business identity and ownership. Note that fees differ based on license type.

Step-By-Step Guide to Apply

Hawaii’s online application process for business licenses is user-friendly and efficient. To apply online:

  1. Access Hawaii’s Business Express licensing portal
  2. Run the Application Wizard
  3. Select your required license types
  4. Provide requested business and ownership details
  5. Pay fees
  6. Obtain approved licenses

After Submitting an Application

Expect a processing time of 2-4 weeks for online applications. Monitor your application status on the Business Express portal, and be prepared to provide additional information if contacted by administrators.

Maintaining Compliance

Compliance in Hawaii includes visibly displaying licenses, filing tax returns and payments on time, renewing licenses, maintaining required insurance, and reporting any changes in your business.

Obtaining Federal Registrations

In addition to state requirements, businesses often need federal registrations such as:

Special Considerations

Industries like liquor sales, agriculture, healthcare, tourism, and construction have specific legal obligations. Check with the respective regulatory agencies for detailed requirements.

Registering Your Business Name

Register your business or fictitious name with the Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.

Hawaii Tax Permits

Key tax permits in Hawaii include General Excise Tax Licenses and Transient Accommodations Tax Licenses.


Who Needs a HI Business License?

Most businesses in Hawaii, including those in retail, hospitality, tourism, agriculture, healthcare services, and more, require licensing.

How long does it take to get a business license in Hawaii?

Hawaii’s filing and review process matches well with any leading business registration states like Delaware and Florida. Normal filings can be accomplished in only 3 to 5 working days. Expedited filings can be done in just one day.

Additional Resources

Explore the additional resources available on Hawaii’s official websites for more information.

Final Thoughts

Acquiring the appropriate licensing is key to establishing legal compliance for your business in Hawaii. Utilize online application options for a streamlined process.

Priyank Singh

Priyank Singh, co-founder and Chief Technology Officer at Stilt, specializes in technology-driven financial solutions. He is having experience of starting FinTech Company, understanding regulations and coming up with creative solutions to solve difficult problems.