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Hawaii Articles of Organization

You have a big idea, truckloads of ambition, and dreams of a thriving Hawaii LLC, and you’re mentally prepared to make it happen.

But the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu once said, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” and for you, that first step is filing the Articles of Organization.

With such grand plans, the last thing you might want to do is file paperwork, but completing the Articles of Organization is what authenticates your LLC, making it official in Hawaii. It’s perhaps the most important step in starting your Hawaii LLC. Following this guide will help take the tedium out of paperwork and get your business started quickly.

But before you dive into the Articles of Organization, you should have a few pieces of information ready to help streamline the process.

Choosing an LLC Name

Before anything else, you will need to decide on an LLC name. You must include a business name on your Articles of Organization, and if the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs deems that name unacceptable or unavailable, the document will be rejected, so make sure you nail down a good name right away.

When you’ve finally decided on a name, make sure it complies with the state’s requirements, meaning it must:

  • Use a term that indicates its business type, like “limited liability company,” “L.L.C.,” or “LLC”
  • Not use the terms “financial institution,” “bank,” “banker,” “banking,” “banc,” “savings bank,” “savings and loan,” “savings association,” “financial services loan company,” “credit union,” “trust company,” “intrapacific bank,” “international banking corporation,” or “trust” unless authorized by the state
  • Not imply affiliation with a governmental agency (unless specifically permitted by that governmental agency)
  • Not be misleading as to the company’s business purpose

On top of all that, it must be distinguishable from all other business names on the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs’ records. Unsure if your name is available? Perform a name search to find out.

Once you’ve found your perfect name, include it on your Articles of Organization to automatically register it. In the event that you’re not quite ready to file an LLC, you can place a 120-day hold on your name by submitting a name reservation request.


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Choosing a Hawaii Registered Agent

A registered agent is your LLC’s liaison to the state, the mediator who takes care of all your important legal, tax, and compliance documents, keeping your business in good standing. Your Articles of Organization won’t be complete unless you’ve included your registered agent’s name and address, so reach out and confirm the appointment before you sit down to complete the form.

Your registered agent can be either an individual Hawaii resident (with a physical address in the state) or a business entity, like a registered agent service, that’s authorized to do business in the state.

Quick Note: If your first choice doesn’t work out, don’t worry. You can always change your registered agent in the future.

Preparing to File Your Hawaii Articles of Organization

Now for the main event: the Articles of Organization. Here’s your opportunity to get your LLC officially on record and authorized to conduct business in Hawaii.

Considering how important the Articles of Organization are to the LLC formation process, the document itself is surprisingly quick and easy. Collect all the necessary information beforehand and you should be able to cruise through it in one sitting. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • LLC name
  • Principal office address
  • Registered agent name and address
  • Names and addresses for each organizer
  • Business duration
  • Whether the LLC is managed by members or managers
  • Names and addresses for each member or manager
  • Liability of members for debts, obligations, etc.
  • Name and signature of each LLC organizer

Given the essential service the Articles of Organization provides, it’s only natural that it would come with a fee. Fortunately, at $50, it’s not overly expensive. When you file, have a check or credit card payment ready.

Standard processing takes 3-5 business days. Expedited processing (2-3 business days) is available for an additional $25.

Filing Options

The Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs offers a variety of filing options, so you can choose the one most congruent with your circumstances, timelines, and preferences.

Online

If you want to keep your filing process digital, complete the process on the Hawaii Business Express portal. Simply click “Get Started” in the box labeled “Start.” You will need to set up an eHawaii.gov account if you don’t already have one.

Mail

Download the paper application here. Then fill it out, include a check (payable to the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs), and mail it to:

State of Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs

Business Registration Division

P.O. Box 40

Honolulu, Hawaii  96810

In-Person

Or, if you live in Honolulu, you can hand-deliver your finished form and payment to 335 Merchant St.

Email

According to the limited liability company Business Registration page, you can also email your form to breg-doci-filing@dcca.hawaii.gov. Emailed documents must include your credit card information.

Fax

Faxing your form is also an option. You can send it to (808) 586-2733. Similar to the email option, you must include credit card information with any faxed forms.

What About Foreign LLCs?

The process outlined above works for domestic LLCs (those formed in Hawaii), but what if your business is expanding to Hawaii from another state? In this case, don’t worry about the Articles of Organization. Your LLC will follow a different route.

Any LLC that started in another state and is coming to Hawaii must instead foreign qualify by filing a Certificate of Authority for Foreign LLC online or using a paper form. This document has the same $50 filing fee as the Articles of Organization. Refrain from conducting any business activities until after you’ve successfully foreign qualified. Otherwise, you might face some serious fines and penalties.

But after you’ve received authority from the state, you’re free to start doing business in Hawaii!

Want Help Filing Your Articles of Organization?

Let’s be honest: you’ve got a lot on your plate. Filing paperwork can take time away from your other tasks, ones more focused on setting your budding LLC up for success.

The good news is that you don’t need to file the Articles of Organization yourself. But if an attorney is out of your price range, hiring an LLC creation service is a great option.

There’s no shortage of business incorporation services out there, but not all of them are equal. Each one offers different packages, costs, and processing times, so it’s important to find the right fit for your LLC.

While each service has optional upgrades and feature packages, on the most basic level, they will review your business information, prepare your formation documents, and submit them to the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs. They will complete everything outlined in this guide and notify you when your Articles of Organization have been filed. You won’t have to lift a finger.

There are other benefits too. Some services will include a year of free registered agent service when you hire them. Other services offer order tracking, notifications on future documents (like annual reports), assistance drafting your operating agreement, or coverage of certain LLC formation costs.

Important Post-Formation Compliance Issues

Once you’ve successfully filed your Articles of Organization, your LLC is an official business entity in the state of Hawaii. However, this doesn’t mean that your responsibilities have come to an end. There are several other steps you’ll need to take if you want to operate a compliant LLC for years to come.

Acquire a Federal Tax ID Number (EIN)

While an EIN isn’t a requirement for Hawaii LLCs, we strongly recommend that every entrepreneur obtains one. An EIN enables your LLC to hire employees, open business bank accounts, file taxes, and take care of several other important aspects of LLC maintenance. Even if you operate a single-member LLC with no employees, you should still have an EIN for your business.

Set Up a Financial Infrastructure

One other crucial step is to solidify the financial aspects of your LLC, first by opening a business bank account. You must have separate bank accounts for your personal use and for business purposes, as this will help you keep your personal and business assets separate, a vitally important consideration for any entrepreneur. If you commingle these assets, you leave yourself wide open for lawsuits, as it would be easy for someone to claim that your business is simply an extension of your own personality and not a separate entity from you as a person.

The other portion of this step is to set up an accounting system. This can either mean that you hire an accountant to take care of your LLC’s bookkeeping, or you could acquire high-quality accounting software like QuickBooks. Either way, you need a reliable means of keeping detailed records for each financial transaction your LLC executes. This is another vital part of keeping your personal and business assets separated, and it will also be enormously helpful come tax time.

Acquire Licenses and Permits

The next step involves obtaining any industry-specific licenses and permits your LLC may need to operate in compliance with state laws. Depending on the nature of your LLC’s business, you may require several permits or you may be able to operate your LLC without any state-level licenses.

Thankfully, Hawaii makes it very easy to figure out your business’ licensing needs. All you need to do is visit the state’s Professional Licensing page and you’ll find the license and permit applications you require. Make sure to check with your county and locality as well, as there may also be licensing requirements for your business on these levels.

Obtain Business Insurance

This step isn’t a requirement, but it is a strong recommendation. The exact insurance policies your business needs will vary based on the type of products and services you offer, but most LLCs should at least have a general liability insurance policy to protect against common perils like slip-and-fall accidents. In some industries, you might need several different insurance policies to cover all of your financial bases, so do your research ahead of time to determine which types of insurance you should purchase.

File Your Annual Reports

Each year, every LLC in Hawaii must file an annual report. This report includes some basic information about your business and keeps the state updated regarding any important changes to your LLC’s structure. The information you’ll need to file this report typically includes your LLC’s name, principal office address, mailing address, registered agent name and address, and the name and address of each LLC member or manager.

Frequently Asked Questions

About Filing the Hawaii LLC Articles of Organization

How long does it take Hawaii to form an LLC?

Standard processing takes 3-5 business days from the date of receipt. Expedited processing (2-3 business days) is available for an additional $25.

Should I file my own Articles of Organization, hire an attorney, or use an online service?

This question largely comes down to personal preferences, but we do have some general insights. The DIY route can be quite a bit of work, as you’ll need to complete each step of the formation process on your own with no assistance. As for hiring an attorney, this can be prohibitively expensive for new businesses, as a lawyer can charge hundreds or even thousands of dollars to form your LLC.

You can think of business services companies as a middle ground between these options. While most of these companies charge a fee to form your LLC, that fee will be significantly less expensive than an attorney’s fee. At the same time, you still aren’t going it alone. Instead, you have an experienced professional guiding you through the entire process.

What does Hawaii require for LLC formations other than the Articles of Organization?

Unlike some states, Hawaii doesn’t require any related filings other than your formation articles. However, we still strongly recommend obtaining a federal tax ID number (EIN). An EIN allows your LLC to file taxes, hire employees, open business bank accounts, and more. Every LLC should have one, whether your state requires it or not.

How many small businesses are there in Hawaii?

Today, Hawaii has more than 130,000 small businesses. Clearly, entrepreneurs in many different fields find Hawaii to be a great place to own and operate a business entity.

The Best Hawaii LLC Formation Services

If you want to use a reputable online service to form your Hawaii LLC, there are dozens of options. We invite you to check out our full list of the best available LLC formation services, but we’ll also share a few of our favorites with you here. Let’s take a quick look at the three best LLC formation services for entrepreneurs in the state of Hawaii.

ZenBusiness ($49 + State Fee)

ZenBusiness isn’t the cheapest LLC formation service available, but they are the most well-rounded service in our opinion. That said, ZenBusiness receives outstanding customer feedback, with more than 9,800 reviews available online and very few negative reviews among them. Finally, the fact that they give back to the community by boosting underprivileged entrepreneurs is an admirable trait.

Note: While it is not currently available, sometimes there are discounts to ZenBusiness online.

Northwest Registered Agent ($39 + State Fee)

Northwest has some major advantages of their own that make them well worth considering. First and foremost, Northwest Registered Agent has the best customer support in this industry, with highly knowledgeable representatives answering every phone call. In addition, they also include 12 months of registered agent service.

IncFile ($0 + State Fee)

Yes, IncFile will actually form your new LLC for free. This package isn’t a barebones offering either, as IncFile includes a year of registered agent service just like Northwest does. IncFile has a fantastic reputation when it comes to customer feedback, as the vast majority of its 27,000+ online reviews are positive. The only downside of their services is that IncFile’s customer support team isn’t exactly the most responsive in the industry. Sometimes it can take them quite a while to respond to messages, and they sometimes don’t reply at all, in our experience. Still, that’s a pretty small issue for a company that offers free LLC formations.