In order to become a general contractor in Hawaii, you’ll need to seek out proper licensing and education, as set forth by Hawaii’s Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs. This includes applying for a license, providing proof of prior experience, payment of applicable fees, and passing the Prometric exam, among other requirements.
Hawaii Contractor License Requirements
To obtain a general contractor’s license in Hawaii, you must meet certain requirements. These are:
- You must be an adult, at least 18 years of age
- You must have a good reputation for honesty, truthfulness, financial integrity, and fair dealing
- You must be able to prove 4 years of supervisory experience within the past 10 years
- You must pass an examination for the appropriate license classification
- You must prove that you have liability and workers’ compensation insurance
- If applying as an entity such as a joint venture, LLC, etc, you must employ a Registered Managing Employee
Also, most Hawaiian cities require surety bonds as well as contractor bonds, performance bonds, and/or bid bonds for public construction projects. The cost of the bond varies with each bond type — you can ensure you get the best bond rate by researching local bond companies. Failure to obtain a bond can result in forfeiture of the license.
Who Needs a Contractors License?
According to HRS section 444-7(c), a “general building contractor” in Hawaii is defined as “a contractor whose principal contracting business is in connection with any structure built, being built, or to be built,” essentially. The section further defines that if two unrelated building trades or crafts are used on the structure, you need a contractor’s license.
Like most other states, generally anybody who offers to, holds oneself out as able to, or contracts to perform residential, commercial, or public works construction, alterations, or improvements must hold a contractor license. Plumbers, electricians, and other specialty trades professionals must seek different licensing.
What Do You Need To Become a General Contractor in Hawaii?
- Social Security Number: Your Social Security Number is used to verify your identity for licensing purposes and for compliance with federal law 42 U.S.C.A. §666(a)(13) and Hawaii Revised Statutes §576D-13(j), HRS and §436B-10(4), HRS. Those applying as entities instead of individuals can
- Experience: Sole proprietors must prove a minimum of 4 years of supervisory experience within the past 10 years immediately preceding the filing of an application is required.
- Experience Certificates: The applicant must submit at least 3 notarized certificates in support of supervisory experience with their application. The person completing the experience certificate must describe in detail the applicant’s experience performing on-site supervision and direction of employees in the classification they are applying for.
- Chronological History of Projects Form (“Project List”): The applicant must submit a Project List as documentation of their previous four years of supervisory work experience. A sample Project List can be found here. Please make sure to include the following:
- A description of your supervisory work experience performed in-house, with your own crew; and work or trades that were subcontracted to other contractors; and the means and methods of each project listed.
- The “Contract Amount” stated should be commensurate with information stated in the “Detailed Description of the Work You Supervised”.
- The “Amount of Supervisory Experience” should only include the actual amount of time spent on-site supervising your own crew.
- Do not include time spent for design, ordering materials, scheduling or downtime for rain-outs or waiting for delivery of materials.
- Financial Statement: Applicants must submit a current (no more than one year old) compiled, reviewed, or audited financial statement accompanied by an independent accountant’s report.
- Credit Report: You’ll have to submit a current and complete credit report for each officer, partner, manager, or member, (from a credit reporting agency issued not more than 6 months ago) covering at least the previous 5 years. A credit report that only provides a summary or a credit score is not a complete credit report, unfortunately. At minimum, the report must cover:
- Detailed account information on each of your current and past debts
- The status of current and past debts
- Whether you are current or delinquent in paying any of those debts
- The existence or not of any public records
- Tax Clearance: You’ll need to submit a current Hawaii State Tax Clearance (issued not more than 6 months old) with an original State Department of Taxation stamp. Not applicable to entities or individuals registered in or residing in Hawaii less than one year.
- Trade Name: If you are planning to use a trade name, submit a filed-stamped copy of current trade name registration approved by the Business Registration Division of the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.
- Entity Registration: All entities must be properly registered with the Business Registration Division (BREG), Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.
- Responsible Managing Employee: When applying as an entity you must submit a letter confirming employment of RME.
The above are to be completed and sent in with the license application. Upon either passing the exam or receiving board approval, you’ll additionally be asked for:
- Workers’ Compensation Insurance: Unless you have no employees, you’ll need to show a certificate of workers’ compensation insurance from an insurance company authorized to do business in Hawaii, as well as a statement from the insurance carrier that the board will be notified of any withdrawal, termination, or cancellation of the insurance.
- Liability and Property Damage Insurance: You’re expected to submit a certificate of insurance from an insurance company or agency authorized to do business in the State of Hawaii, showing full policy coverage of the applicant for comprehensive bodily injury and property damage liability with the following minimum limits of liability:
- Bodily Injury Liability:
- $100,000 each person
- $300,000 each occurrence
- Property Damage Liability
- $50,000 each occurrence
- Bodily Injury Liability:
- Place of Business: A licensed contractor must maintain a definitive place of business where the licensee may be served notice and legal process in the State and shall display therein the contractor’s license. A P.O. Box number is not accepted as a “place of business”.
Licensing and Registration Fee Summary
- Application fee – $50.00 per application. You may apply for more than one classification per application. A separate application is required for each contracting entity and RME.
- Examination fee – $75.00 per part. Most classifications require the completion of two parts (Part I – Business & Law, and Part II – Trade).
- License fee – Contracting entity and Sole Proprietor – $663.00 if licensed between October 1st of the even-numbered year and September 30th of the odd-numbered year, and $494.00 if licensed between October 1st of the odd-numbered year and September 30th of the even-numbered year.
Hawaii Contractors Exam
All applicants must pass an examination, which is administered by a professional testing service, Prometric (fka Thomson Prometric).
Applicants, upon approval by the Board, will be provided with examination registration forms. Applicants are then required to mail the registration forms, along with the appropriate examination fees, directly to Prometric.
The examination is written, and covers the following:
- PART I — Business and Law
- This test will gauge an applicant’s knowledge of payroll taxes, Workers’ Compensation, Unemployment Compensation, lien laws, and other laws and subjects that will affect their daily operations as contractors.
- Closed book examination
- 80 questions
- Three-hour time limit
- 75 percent required to pass
A copy of the Contractors laws and rules may be obtained by submitting a written request to:
- Contractors License Board,
DCCA, P.O. Box 3469,
Honolulu, HI 96801.
- PART II — Trade
- This test will cover a broad range of activities that are performed by general building contractors in Hawaii.
- Closed book examination
- 80 questions
- Four-hour time limit
- 75 percent required to pass
Recommended Study materials for the Part II examination may be obtained by calling Prometric at (808) 261-8182. More information on scheduling, exam materials, and other requirements may be found on Prometric’s site.
Hawaii Contractors License Application
According to the application itself, this is the general licensure process and what one may expect after filing an application:
- The applicant files application, fee, and other required items on or before the first Tuesday of the month.
- The Board reviews complete applications the following month.
- The Board notifies the applicant of approval/disapproval/deferral.
- Approved applicant registers with a separate testing agency for exam and pays testing agency exam fees.
- The applicant takes the exam the following month.
- Upon passing the exam, the Board notifies the applicant of license requirements.
- The applicant submits license requirements.
- The Board issues license to the applicant.
- The applicant must maintain their license.
Sole proprietors must fill out a specific application, while entities must fill out a separate application.
When complete, send the application package with appropriate fees and supporting document attachments by post to:
Contractors License Board
DCCA, PVL Licensing Branch
P.O. Box 3469
Honolulu, HI 96801
Or delivered to office location at:
335 Merchant St., Room 301
Honolulu, HI 96813
Phone: (808) 586-3000
Your application package, including fees and all supporting documents, must be presented to the Board or received by the Board’s Honolulu office on or before the first Tuesday of the month prior to the scheduled meeting date. The board does not meet in the month of December and does not grant licenses during December.
Hawaii Contractor Registration and Permitting Requirements
Hawaii has a variety of planning, zoning, and construction permits that vary island to island and county to county. These might include building permits to ensure the land stays verdant and healthy. Check with your local county, city, or municipality for registration and permitting requirements.
Hawaii State Business Licenses and Registration
All contractors wishing to do business in the State of Hawaii must register their organization with the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs. Filing and registration are straightforward and simple.
Hawaii Business Registration
All new businesses in Hawaii must register their business name. This can all be done quickly and easily online through the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Business Registration page.
Hawaii Tax Identification Numbers and Registration
Anybody doing work as a contractor in Hawaii will be required to obtain a State Tax Identification number. You can do so by visiting the state’s Hawaii Tax Online page.
Hawaii Workers’ Compensation Insurance Requirements and Forms
Hawaii law requires all employers to secure workers’ compensation insurance for their employees prior to hiring. More information can be found via the State of Hawaii Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.
Hawaii Contractor License Lookup and Verification
The Hawaii Department of Commerce & Consumer Affairs Professional & Vocational Licensing Search can help you look up qualified contractors in Hawaii.