Hawaii Business Entity Search (Step-by-Step Guide)
When starting a new business in the state of Hawaii, it’s important to conduct a name availability search first. This is to ensure that you don’t attempt to register your business under an existing business entity name.
The business search tool on the Hawaii Secretary of State’s website also gives you an idea of similar business names to the one you prefer. Therefore, even if your desired name is taken, using the search results is helpful when it comes to deciding on a suitable name for your business.
The following step-by-step guide will show you how to conduct a Hawaii business entity search.
Hawaii search tips
When searching for a business in Hawaii, the following helpful hints give you the best results:
- The Hawaii name search is not case-sensitive, so whether you enter uppercase or lowercase letters is irrelevant.
- Even if the company name contains punctuation marks or special characters, you don’t have to include them in the search as the search box ignores all punctuation.
- To narrow down your results, choose the “ begins with” or “contains” option before searching.
The only search type or search criteria is to search for businesses via name.
Business search by entity name
To begin your Hawaii business search, refer to the Hawaii Business Express webpage located at the Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs – Business Services website.
Enter the entity name
Enter the name of the business that you’re searching for, and click on the “Search” button.
If you’d like to narrow down your options, get more accurate results, or an exact match then selects either “begins with” or “contains” from the drop-down box under “Search mode.”
Review the results
If matching results are available, they will be displayed in the table on this page. The information you’ll have access to includes the name of the business, the record type, file number, and status.
You can further refine your search by selecting from the drop-down menu boxes that say record type, status, and entity type.
Then click on “Apply filters.”
Review additional business information
If you require further information on a specific business, simply click on the name of the business, and it will take you to a business summary page.
Here, you’ll have access to various business details such as the business type, master name, file number, status, and place of incorporation.
Hawaii search results
Irrespective of the search criteria you use, you’ll have access to the following information on the business’s summary page:
- Master name
- Business type
- File number
- Place incorporated
- Registration date
- Mailing address (no po box)
- Cross-reference name
Additionally, you’ll be able to access annual business filings and other filings.
This page also contains an option to “Download company info as PDF.”
Copies of documents and certificates
Once you have completed your Hawaii business entity search, you may want to request copies of business documents filed with the department. Plain copies, as well as certified copies of business documents, may be purchased through the Hawaii Business Express webpage.
Some of the most frequently requested documents include the Articles of Organization and the Certificate of Good Standing.
So what you need to do is stay on the business summary page and click on the “Buy available docs” tab. You’ll be able to view all available documents and “Add to Cart.” Alternatively, the request may also be carried out via email, phone, mail, fax, and also in person.
Ultimately, the filing fees must be sent along with all copy requests. Regular copies cost $3 and certified copies come with an extra $10 fee per page.
Use the following information to request certified copies of selected business documents:
Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs
Business Registration Division
P.O. Box 40
Honolulu, HI 96810
335 Merchant Street, Room 201
Honolulu, HI 96813
When it comes to fax or email filings, it must be accompanied by credit card information. The cards accepted include Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover, JCB, or Diner’s Club.
When completing your copy to request via email or fax, you need to use the Business Registration Division Credit Card Transaction Form.
Business name availability
When referring to the Hawaii Business Express webpage, you should note that “The results of this site should not be used as a definitive method to determine name availability.”
What this means is that the purpose of the search is to determine whether a company or entity exists and to provide basic business details on the company.
However, when registering a business name, you should not assume that it’s available until you’ve received a response from the Business Registration Division.
So ultimately, you’ll need to contact the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Business Registration Division to find out if an entity name is available for business registration. This rule applies even if the name does not show up on any of your search results.
In some instances, the name does not show up in the search results; however, it could be used as a trademark by another entity in the state. Therefore, it’s helpful to conduct a Hawaii Trademark Search on the Department of State’s website or refer to https://cca.hawaii.gov/breg/registration/trade/.
Additionally, if a name does appear to be available, you should consider the Hawaii Corporation naming rules prior to beginning the business registration process.
Some of the rules for Hawaii LLCs and corporations are as follows:
- The corporation name must contain the words, company, corporation, incorporated, limited, or at least an abbreviation of any of these terms.
- The corporation or LLC name must not contain language that implies or suggests that the company is organized for any other purpose other than what’s permitted by law or contained in the organization’s Articles of Incorporation.
- The name of your business cannot be significantly similar or indistinguishable from other existing businesses registered in the state of Hawaii.
- You should also not make use of words or terms that may imply that your company is affiliated with a government agency. Therefore, steer clear of words like State Department, FBI, Treasury, etc.
- Certain terms will need prior approval before being used. Some of those terms include financial institution, bank, savings and loan, financial services loan company, etc.
The Hawaii state statutes contain complete naming guidelines for naming a Hawaii-based business.
Additionally, the name reservation process comes in quite handy if you’re not ready to begin business registration just yet. The state allows you to reserve a name for a certain period of time until you’re ready to start filing the paperwork.
To begin the name reservation process, you’ll need to complete the Application for Reservation of Name with the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs. Once the application has been completed, you may file it online or via mail to the following address:
P.O. Box 40 Honolulu, Hawaii 96810
Irrespective of which method you use to file for the name reservation, you’ll need to include the following information in the application:
- Type of business
- The name of the applicant
- Name to be reserved
- Signature of applicant
- Status of business entity
There’s a $10 filing fee for reserving a name in the state.
Domain name availability
After deciding on the ideal legal entity name for your business, it’s time to start thinking of a domain name too. This is because your domain name establishes your online presence and your company’s brand. Therefore, careful consideration should definitely go into deciding on a domain name.
Since there are literally billions of websites out there, finding an ideal domain name is harder than you would expect. However, when choosing a domain name, you’ll need to get creative if your desired name is already taken.
And when deciding on the ideal domain name for your business, keep the following tips in mind:
- Try to make use of the most popular extensions such as .com, .org, .net, etc
- Shorter is better
- Ensure that the name is easy to type and pronounce
- Avoid numbers and hyphens
- Try using keywords that reflect your website and brand
- Think of a domain name that you can use over the long-term
- Check whether the domain name is trademarked
One of the best ways to find the ideal domain name is to use a professional domain name checking service like namechk.com. This professional service helps to filter your options and offer suggestions when your preferred domain names are already taken.
Fictitious business name search
If you want to conduct business under several different names, excluding the legal entity name, then you’ll need to register a fictitious name in the state.
A DBA name is short for “doing business as” name, and it’s also referred to as a fictitious, assumed or trade name in many states. In order to legally conduct business under a fictitious or assumed name, you will need to register that name.
However, Hawaii does not require businesses to register an assumed name, and ownership is obtained by simply adopting and using the name. However, there is an option to register a DBA officially with the state. A fictitious name will cost you $50.
The Certificate of Registration may be filled in online, or you may download the printable form and have it mailed to the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs at the following address:
Business Registration Division
P.O. Box 40
Honolulu, HI 96810
Some of the information that will be required when putting in an application for a fictitious Hawaii business name includes:
- Applicants name
- Applicants mailing address
- Type of registration [registration or renewal]
- Status of the applicant
- State of incorporation, organization, and formation
- Name you want to reserve
- Nature of the business
- Term dates
In order to complete your registration, you will need to pay the filing fee of $50 to the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs. Additionally, you’ll need to pay a state archive fee of $1.
What is a federal tax lien?
In the event that you avoid or neglect to pay a tax debt, the government has a claim legally against your property, and this is known as a federal tax lien. It basically protects the government’s interest through your property, including personal property, financial assets as well as real estate.
How can I keep my business in good standing?
After forming a new business, you’ll need to comply with state requirements in order to keep it in good standing. For one, you need to file annual reports on time and pay the relevant fees. You also need to ensure that your registered agent or service of process agent information is up-to-date at all times and that you are keeping proper financial and corporate records.
What are the benefits of limited liability companies?
Forming a limited liability company includes various benefits such as separate legal identity, perpetual existence, pass-through taxation, limited liability, flexible management structure, etc.
What is the difference between for-profit corporations and nonprofits?
For-profit corporations are formed to sell products and services and ultimately generate a profit for their owners. Nonprofits are formed to benefit the public and not for profit.
What are limited liability partnerships?
Limited liability partnerships include various benefits such as no minimum capital requirement, no requirement of compulsory audit, no limit on owners of the business, savings from lower compliance burden, as well as lower registration costs. Some examples of limited liability partnerships include dental offices, financial advising services, and real estate agencies.
Start a Limited Liability Company Online Today
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