Creating a virtual wall between your personal and business assets may protect your personal assets from business debts. Incorporating your business and complying with corporate formalities may provide this virtual wall, sometimes called a “corporate veil.” Hawaii’s requirements for filing as a corporation vary by the profit and domicile status of the business. To incorporate a domestic for-profit business under Hawaii’s laws, certain guidelines apply.
Choose your business name. The name you choose cannot be substantially similar to the name of another existing business. The name must also contain the words “Corporation,” "Incorporated," or "Limited" or the abbreviations "Corp.," "Inc.," or "Ltd." You can check whether a business name is already in use by searching the business name database available on Hawaii’s Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs website. You'll need to submit a form available on the website to register your business name. You can fill out these forms on your computer, and then download and print them for registering by mail, fax, or in person. You can also register online.
Prepare the articles of incorporation, which is the formal document that legally creates the corporation. You can fill out Form DC-1, which is the state template form of the document. Fill it out online or download it for printing from the Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs website. You can also call the Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs and request a copy by mail. The phone number is 808-586-2727. Alternatively, you can use an online document preparation site to prepare and file your articles of incorporation. To complete the articles of incorporation, you must provide basic information about your business, such as the business mailing address, name of the registered agent who lives in the state, the number of shares in the corporation, and names and addresses of the incorporators.
File the articles of incorporation and pay the filing fee. You can file by mailing the document and fee to the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Business Registration Division, P.O. Box 40, Honolulu, Hawaii 96810. You can also file online using Hawaii’s Business Express available on the Hawaii.gov website. Once the proper documents and fees are filed, the business is legally incorporated.
Create the corporate bylaws, which typically set forth internal rules and procedures for the corporation including the size of the board of directors and the manner and term of their election, how and when board and shareholder meetings will be held, who may call meetings, and how the board of directors will function.
- Once your business is legally incorporated, you should operate your business in accordance with your articles of incorporation and bylaws. Observing these formalities of a corporation helps protect the virtual wall between your personal assets and business assets.
- State of Hawai’i: Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs: Registration Forms and Information
- Hawaii Revised Statues: 414-3
- State of Hawai’i: Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs: Articles of Incorporation
- State of Hawai’i: Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs: Domestic Profit Corporations
- Hawaii Revised Statues: 414-83
- Hawaii Revised Statues: 414-51
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