Licensing Information

Businesses operating in Hawaii are required to register with the Department to obtain a license, permit, certificate registration, or exemption, (all generally referred to by the Department as a “license”). The table below summarizes by type of license, who must register, the registration frequency, and associated fees

Tax License Type Who Must Register Registration Frequency Fee
General Excise Tax License Anyone who receives income from conducting business activities in the State of Hawaii including, but not limited to: wholesaling, retailing, farming, services, construction contracting, rental of personal or real property, business interest income, and royalties. One-time $20 at registration
Transient Accommodations Tax Certificate of Registration Anyone who rents a transient accommodation (for example, a house, condominium, hotel room) to a transient for less than 180 consecutive days One-time 1-5 units: $5
6+ units: $15 at registration
Transient Accommodations Tax Certificate of Registration Time share plan managers One-time $15 per time share plan, at registration
Transient Accommodations Tax Certificate of Registration Transient accommodations brokers, travel agencies, or tour packagers who enters into arrangements to furnish transient accommodations at noncommissioned negotiated contract rates. One-time $15 at registration
Rental Motor Vehicle, Tour Vehicle, and Car-Sharing Vehicle Certificate of Registration Anyone that rents out motor and/or tour vehicles or operates a car-sharing organization. One-time $20 at registration
Liquid Fuel Distributor License Persons/businesses that refine, manufacture, produce, or compound liquid fuel in the state or import liquid fuel into the state.
with the intention of selling or using the liquid fuel in the state
One-time No fee
Liquid Fuel Retail Dealer Permit Anyone who purchases liquid fuel from licensed distributors with the intention of selling the liquid fuel to consumers. Renew annually
(December 31)
$5 per year
Liquor Tax Permit Holders of a county liquor license for Manufacturer, Wholesaler, or Brewpub Renew annually
(June 30)
$2.50 per year
Cigarette and Tobacco Tax License Anyone who distributes cigarette or tobacco products or comes into the possession of cigarette or tobacco products that have not been acquired from another licensee or retail tobacco permit holder Renew annually
(June 30)
$2.50 per year
Cigarette and Tobacco – Retail Tobacco Permit Anyone who sells cigarettes and tobacco products to consumers. A separate retail tobacco permit for each retail location (including vehicles) is required. Renew annually
(November 30)
$20 per retail location per year

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQS)

Q: How do I obtain a tax license?
A: Use Hawaii Tax Online to “Register New Business” or submit Form BB-1.

Q: What does a tax license look like?
A: A sample General Excise Tax License is shown below:
example of GE tax license

Q: What’s that black and white pixelated square box on my license?
A: The square box is a QR code. The QR code is a computer generated image that stores information. The QR code can be scanned to validate authenticity of the license and license status.

Q: How do I find my tax license number(s)?
A: Use “Search Tax Licenses” on Hawaii Tax Online.

Q: How do I get a copy of my tax license?
A: Licenses are mailed to license holders after the license is issued or renewed. Your downloadable, printable letter including the license is available on Hawaii Tax Online after you sign in.

Q: If I don’t receive a license after I registered, do I still need to pay tax?
A: Yes. Not all registrations receive a license document (e.g., withholding). However, you still need to register and pay the applicable tax. Some businesses are also not required to register and are still required to pay the applicable taxes (e.g., some wholesale liquor businesses do not need a liquor permit but need to pay liquor tax).

Q: If I have a license, do I need to file a tax return if I have no business income during the period?
A: Yes, every license holder must file periodic and annual returns even if no tax is due. If you did not have any gross income during filing period, report $0 income on the return.

Q: What do I do with my license?
A: Display your tax license(s) at your place of business, as indicated on the license. Failure to display the license could result in a penalty. Also, use the Hawaii Tax ID number shown on your license to file and pay taxes.

Q: Do I need to renew my license?
A: As shown in the table at the top of this page, some licenses must be renewed annually while others only require you to register one-time. Sign in to Hawaii Tax Online if you need to renew your license.

Q: How do I request to temporarily place my license on inactive status?
A. If you are stopping your business temporarily, you can request to put your general excise tax, transient accommodations tax, rental motor vehicle, tour vehicle, and car-sharing vehicle surcharge tax, and withholding tax licenses on hold using Form L-9. An account may be put on Inactive status for up to two (2) years; an extension for an additional two (2) years may be requested by submitting another Form L-9. Taxpayers do not need to file periodic returns but must continue to file annual tax returns during inactive status. Taxpayers may reactivate a tax account at any time by notifying the Department in writing or by filing a periodic tax return.

Q: If I decide to stop operating my business, do I need to cancel my license?
A: Yes. Cancel your license by signing into Hawaii Tax Online or cancel your license(s) by submitting a Form GEW-TA-RV-1.

Q: How do I change the business, mailing, or physical location address for my business?
A: Sign into Hawaii Tax Online to update your address information or complete and submit Form ITPS-COA.

Q: How do I add or change locations for General Excise, Transient Accommodations, Rental Vehicle, Liquid Fuel Retailer, and/or Retail Tobacco?
A: Sign in to Hawaii Tax Online to add and cease locations or complete Form BB-1 by selecting Add, Delete, or Change as the Purpose of Application and specify your locations on Line 24.

Q: Can my tax license be suspended or revoked by the Department?
A: Yes, there are many conditions under which your tax license may be suspended or revoked. For example, if you fail to file the necessary returns in a timely manner, the Department may suspend or revoke your tax license.

Q: What do I need to do if my license status is “Pending Revoke”?
A: From July 1 to September 30 each year, the Department cleans our tax license list by revoking licenses due to abandonment. Taxpayers can “Search Tax Licenses” for the status of the license. A license with a “Pending Revoke” status means that the Department of Taxation intends to revoke the license due to abandonment (See Hawaii Administrative Rules 18-231-3-14.17). Revocation of a license due to abandonment has no effect on (1) liabilities for payment of taxes, fees, penalties, or interest incurred or imposed, (2) returns due, or (3) any potential audit action.

Q: What do I do if I have a closed license and need to file and pay for taxes after the business end date of the closed license?
A: To obtain a new business license, submit Form BB-1 or Register a New Business License on Hawaii Tax Online and pay the applicable fee.

See also:

Page Last Updated on December 3, 2019