Apply For A Business License Hawaii - HI

Do I need a business license in Hawaii?

In Hawaii, if you are operating any type of business you will need a general business license from the State of Hawaii. This applies no matter what type of business you are conducting, even if only a small, home-based business. The State and some counties also require specific types of licenses and permits based on the type of business being conducted. All general business licenses are obtained from the State of Hawaii.

What are the licenses that are required from the State of Hawaii?

Hawaii’s general business license is really a tax registration and licensing application all in one, so that the State can charge you tax on your business, called the “General Excise Tax License.” The State of Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Business Registration Division requires that you register your business using form BB-1 upon which your business will be issued a general excise tax license certificate and tax number so that you can pay general excise tax withholdings to the state. The general excise tax is different than sales tax, as discussed below. In addition to the General Excise Tax License, the State of Hawaii also regulates 47 different professions and vocations, such as medical professions, accountants, real estate and mortgage brokers, and various other unique professions, such as mixed martial arts contests, and sports agents. These licenses are in addition to the State General Excise Tax License. The full list of professions that require State licenses can be found at the DCCA website. Certain other permits are also obtained from the counties located on each Island, for example film permits.

How do I get a business license in Hawaii?

The general excise license can be applied for in person or online. If you are on the Island of Oahu, you can apply at the Business Action Center in Honolulu at 1130 N. Nimitz Highway, Suite A-220. The telephone number is 808-586-2545. Additionally, the BB-1 form can be completed online using the Hawaii Business Express website. The Business Express website allows new businesses to do a variety of things, from forming corporations and LLCs, to filing the form BB-1 or applying for an employer identification number with the Hawaii Department of Labor and Industrial Relations if you will have employees. The website requires you to create a user name and select a password so that you can complete the process in steps and come back when needed. The web address is

What is General Excise Tax?

Unlike sales tax, which is generally a tax on retail sales that applies to most states, the State of Hawaii has a general excise tax that applies to all gross receipts or gross income of your business. The amount of tax depends on the type of business activity being conducted, whether a service activity, retail sales, wholesale or manufacturing activities, or other types and ranges from 0.5% to 4%. There are also exemptions from the tax for certain types of businesses. The general excise tax rules are somewhat complicated for certain types of businesses and it is recommended that you consult a tax advisor or accountant on how to apply the general excise tax rules to your particular business activity.

What information do I need to complete the general excise tax license application in Hawaii?

The form BB-1 requires the following types of information:

  • Business Name
  • Business Address
  • Phone Number
  • Type of Business (LLC, Corporation, Partnership, or Sole Proprietor)
  • Federal Tax ID (FEIN) or social security number (for sole proprietors)
  • Accounting period
  • list of owners, partners, shareholders, etc. (name, address and phone number)
  • Driver’s license number
  • Number of Expected Employees

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This site is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, financial or tax advise. The information on this site should not be relied upon as an official source of information and should be independently verified.


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