Hawaii Business Records



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How to Find Business Records in Hawaii

Beginning your Search for Hawaii Business Records

The office of the Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs has the duty of maintaining certain crucial business records for Hawaii corporations. Many of these records are available to the public and may be viewed even by those having no involvement with the corporation for which documents are maintained. These records may be accessed over the internet.

What Records Are Maintained by the Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs?

When a business incorporates, or takes the form of a corporation, it is treated like a separate legal entity. This means that the corporation is treated as if it were a separate person from its incorporators, directors or officers. As a result of this different treatment, it is necessary for the State of Hawaii to keep track of which businesses have incorporated within the state. These records are maintained by the Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.

Why Would a Business Not Have Documents On File?

Not all businesses decide to incorporate. If a business has not incorporated, there may not be documentation on file because the business is not entitled to any special treatment as if it were a separate entity. This is particularly common when an individual owns a business by themselves. In this instance, the business is often referred to as a sole proprietorship. A sole proprietorship is not considered a separate legal entity, and may not have any documentation on file.

Additionally, in the United States, corporations do not always choose to incorporate in the state in which they do business, or even in the state where their principal offices are located. Instead, businesses often select the state with the most advantageous-seeming laws and incorporate the business in that state to take advantage of these laws.

Therefore, just because no documentation can be found on file with the Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs with respect to a particular business, this does not necessarily mean that the business is not incorporated; it may mean that the business has chosen to incorporate in a different state than Hawaii. If this is the case, it may be necessary to search websites for the other fifty states to determine the state of incorporation for the business in question. However, it should be noted that the State of Delaware is often thought to be most advantageous for businesses, and many businesses choose to incorporate in the State of Delaware. For this reason, the Secretary of State for the State of Delaware may be a good place to begin a search.

How Can I Search for Records Maintained by the Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs?

To view business records in Hawaii online, begin at the website located here: www.hawaii.gov/portal/business/index.htm. From this page, you can select the option entitled “Search for a Business Name” from the list on the left of the page. This will take you to a page bearing the title “Search for a Business.”

First, select the method of search from the drop-down menu. You can choose “begins with,” or “contains.” Choose the “begins with” option if you know the beginning of the corporation’s name. Choose “contains” if you know a word or part of a word contained in the corporation’s name but not the rest. Then enter the corporation’s name or part of the name in the search window and click the button marked “Search.”

The matching results will be returned in the form of a list, including the corporation’s name, record type, file number and corporate status. The name of the corporations will appear in blue and are clickable links. Clicking on these names will click you to a separate page where you can view additional information about the corporation, including the master name of the corporation, the business type, the file number, the status (active or inactive), the purpose of the corporation, the place of incorporation, the date the corporation was formed, the mailing address, and the name and address of the registered agent. Additionally, the page will show the years in which annual reports were filed by the corporation, the names of the officers, and will also present a link through which you may obtain information about trade names, trademarks and service marks claimed by that corporation. (Bear in mind that a state registry for trademarks is not the same as the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s national registry.)

At the top of the page you will also find two buttons marked “Electronic COGS” and “Printed COGS.” Using these buttons, for a fee you may obtain a Certificate of Good Standing for any corporation that is, indeed, in good standing.

Use of this online search should not take the place of a business names search if you are planning to incorporate in the State of Hawaii. To learn whether a business name is already taken, it is necessary to contact the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs – Business Registration directly. They may be reached by telephone at this number: 808-586-2727.

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