Hawaii’s beautiful landscape and laid-back atmosphere offer a great place to live and start a business. For Hawaii entrepreneurs who are looking to set up a business in The Aloha State, one of the many choices you’ll make is to name a registered agent.
A registered agent is a person or company who will receive official paperwork on behalf of your company. The registered agent could be the owner, but it can also be another trustworthy person or company.
Selecting a registered agent is part of setting up a Hawaii LLC. To help those who are new to the business world, we’ve created this guide to shed some light on how to set up an LLC in Hawaii and how a registered agent plays a role in the business.
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How is an LLC formed in Hawaii?
Forming an LLC in Hawaii is fairly simple. Owners must fill out and file paperwork with the state and pay a fee. Once that’s complete, an LLC is formed.
In Hawaii, the LLC formation documents are called Articles of Organization. To file this paperwork, you’ll need to do several things. Here’s a look at the steps to follow to establish a Hawaii LLC:
1. Name the company
What’s the name of your company? It’s one of the first things a business owner must list on the LLC formation paperwork. However, it’s not as simple as coming up with a name and claiming it as your own.
Most states, including Hawaii, require business names to be unique. In other words, if another company is already up and running with the name you want, you’ll need to change yours.
To see if the name you have selected is already in use, go to Hawaii.gov and run a business search. If the name isn’t taken, you can use it.
An owner can also decide to reserve a name before filing the LLC formation paperwork. To reserve a name, an owner can visit the Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Business Registration Division website and pay a $10 fee.
At this point, it’s a good idea to see if a domain name that matches the company name is available too. If the name isn’t available as a URL, it’s something to consider. Having a URL address that matches the company name is the best way for customers to find you online.
Additional naming rules in the state include:
- The name must include “Limited Liability Company” or “LLC” in the name.
- The name can’t reference any government agency that could cause confusion.
- Additional approval could be needed for some company names, like those that claim to be an academy or a bank, for example.
2. Pick a registered agent
The Articles of Organization asks the LLC organizer to list a registered agent. A registered agent will receive official paperwork for the company that’s either mailed or served in-person.
An owner can be his or her own registered agent, but a friend, neighbor, nearby business owner, or professional registered agent service can do the job too.
The owner must decide whether a trusted person should fill this role or if a registered agent service is a better choice. A registered agent service does charge for this service.
3. File the Articles of Organization
To set up a Hawaii LLC, official paperwork known as Articles of Organization must be filed with the State of Hawaii. The paperwork can be filed online or by mail.
The document takes minutes to fill out, provided you know the information. The document asks for the name of the company and its address, the name and address of the registered agent, the names of the managers, and the signature of the LLC organizer.
As you might expect, there is a fee to file paperwork. The fee in Hawaii is $50.
4. Create a company operating agreement
One of the most important documents a company can have is an operating agreement. An operating agreement, as you might expect, explains how the company will operate. The document explains how decisions are made, how the company functions on a daily basis, the company’s hierarchy structure, and how profits and losses are distributed.
This document is not required by the state; however, it’s strongly encouraged.
5. Obtain an EIN
To get to work, every business needs an EIN or an employer identification number. To obtain an EIN, you can visit the IRS website and receive one in a matter of minutes. This number acts as your company’s identification number and is attached to financial documents like taxes and bank loans.
An EIN is needed to:
- Open bank accounts
- Hire and pay employees
- File and pay taxes
6. File an annual report
Hawaii requires businesses to file an annual report and pay a $15 fee. This can be done online through the Business Registration Division or printed and mailed. The state will send a reminder to LLCs as a reminder to file the annual report.
What is a Hawaii registered agent?
A Hawaii registered agent is a person or company who’s willing to receive official documents for the company. These documents could be tax notices or documents that are served during a lawsuit.
Do I really need a registered agent in Hawaii?
Yes. The State of Hawaii requires all companies that are formed to list a registered agent. The LLC formation paperwork will ask for the registered agent’s name and address. The address must be a physical street address, not a P.O. box.
Can I be my own registered agent in Hawaii?
Yes, owners can be their own registered agents. In many cases, serving as your own registered agent is the easiest and cheapest option. However, there are other choices.
Who can be a registered agent in Hawaii?
A registered agent can be the owner, a trusted friend, an employee, or another company – that includes a registered agent service. A registered agent service is a company that receives documentation on your behalf, for a fee.
In Hawaii, the person or company must have a physical street address in Hawaii and be available during normal business hours.
Why would a company choose to work with a registered agent service?
A company owner may decide to work with a registered agent service, which is a professional service that accepts documents on behalf of your company. For a fee, a registered agent service will accept and sign for documents and notify business owners when they arrive.
There are advantages to using a registered agent service, which includes:
- Convenience. In some cases, owners find registered agent services more convenient than filling the role themselves. The registered agent service is open during regular business hours and always has someone on staff to accept documents, which, for some owners, is worth paying for.
- Peace of mind. A professional service is reliable, which gives owners peace of mind knowing that nothing is missed, misplaced, or overlooked. If documents arrive, they’re accepted and the owner is notified.
- Privacy. Some of the paperwork that registered agents receive isn’t something you’d want your employees or customers to know about. If your company is sued, for example, it’s best that the paperwork is served to an off-sight registered agent.
List of Hawaii registered agent services
To find a registered agent service in Hawaii, entrepreneurs can run a quick Google search. To give entrepreneurs an idea of the service and prices that are out there, here are a few options:
- Incfile.com: Incfile.com can help entrepreneurs file their LLC formation paperwork and serve as the company’s registered agent. The online company offers a host of beneficial business services that includes filing reports and other necessary documents with the state. The first year is free. After that, it’s $119 a year.
- Northwest Registered Agent: For $125 a year, Northwest Registered Agent offers an online portal, real-time updates when mail is received, and pricing that remains the same each year. The company offers its services in several states and has years of experience in the field. Additional business services are also offered.
- Swyft Filings: Swyft Filings offers registered agent services that start at $149 a year. Users get an online dashboard, report and filing reminders, and secure document storage for this fee. In addition, the company has a buffet of other business services available when you have a need.
How much does a registered agent service cost in Hawaii?
The cost of a registered agent depends on what kind of services a business owner wants. A registered agent service that offers basic features, like mail forwarding, can cost about $50 a year.
For more features, like same-day document scans, enhanced notifications, or annual report reminders, the fees increase. A registered agent service that offers all the bells and whistles costs upwards of $150-300 a year.
How does an owner select a registered agent in Hawaii?
The registered agent is selected and listed on the LLC formation document, the Articles of Organization. Once selected, the person or company listed serves as the registered agent until the contact is changed formally by submitting changes to the state.
Can a company change its registered agent?
Yes. To change a registered agent, a company owner can file a “change form” with the state. The form is called a Statement of Change of Registered Agent by Entity. It’s filed with the Business Registration Division and costs $25.
What’s a statutory agent?
In some states, the term statutory agent is used as opposed to a registered agent. The name ‘service of process’ agent is also used. All of these titles mean the same thing. The name varies by state.
What’s a commercial registered agent?
A commercial agent or a commercial registered agent refers to a registered agent service or a professional company that a business owner pays to serve as its registered agent. A non-commercial agent is a person, like an owner or an employee, who serves as the registered agent.