The State of Hawaii regulates their construction industry by requiring General Contractors engaged in commercial, residential or public works construction to obtain a license. A license is required to build, construct, alter, repair, improve or remodel any building or structure in Hawaii, if the project is worth $1,000 or more, including labor and materials. Licenses are issued by the Contractors Licensing Board of the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.
Licenses are issued to sole proprietors and businesses entities in the State of Hawaii. All businesses are required to choose someone within their company to act as a Responsible Managing Employee (RME) and meet the Board’s requirements and pass the qualifying exam. Sole proprietors are also required to fulfill the Board requirements and pass an exam. Contractors are also required to register their business and hold the proper forms of insurance.
*The only contractor who is exempt from obtaining a license in the State of Hawaii is someone working on a property that they own. However, in this case, the owner-builder is required to register with their county building department and obtain the proper permits.
License Classifications in Hawaii
The State of Hawaii offers the following license classifications for General Contractors:
- General Engineering Contractor License (A)- allows contractors to work on any fixed or public works project, including:
- water power
- General Building Contractor License (B)- allows contractors to work on any commercial or residential project that involves 2 or more unrelated building trades.
- Specialty Contractor License (C)- allows contractors to specialize in various building trades. For more information on the specific trades and classifications offered in Hawaii, please visit the following link and look under Class C license specialties:
Process to Obtain a General Contractors License in Hawaii
- Applicants must be at least 18 years of age
- Sole Proprietors and Responsible Managing Employees (RME) must have at least 4 years of supervisory experience in a construction-related field
- Contractors must and fill out a license application. There is a separate application for sole proprietors and business entities. All businesses must employ an RME, who must also fill out an application and obtain an RME license
- Businesses must register with the Business Registration Division and obtain tax clearance from the Hawaii State Department of Taxation
- Sole proprietors and business entities must have a financial statement prepared by a CPA, and submit a current credit report
- Contractors must submit the completed application, along with all the required documents and the application fee to the Contractors Licensing Board
- Once the application is approved, RMEs and sole proprietors are responsible for taking and passing the Business and Law and Trade examinations, administered by Prometric
- To obtain their license, contractors must submit the passing exam scores, license fee and proof of liability and worker’s compensation insurance to the Contractors Licensing Board
Preparing to Submit an Application
The first step in preparing to apply for a Hawaii General Contractors License is to determine what type of business the contractor plans to operate. Contractors may apply as the following business types:
- Sole Proprietor
- Limited Liability Partnership (LLP)
- Joint Venture
- Limited Liability Company (LLC)
For a copy of the Sole Proprietor license application, please visit:
In order to apply, sole proprietors are required to be at least 18 years of age and have a minimum of 4 years of supervisory experience in a related contracting or construction field. In some cases, technical training may count toward one year of the experience requirement.
All other business types use the same application. Click the link below for the business entity license application:
All businesses, including partnerships, LLPs, LLCs, joint ventures and corporations, must employ a Responsible Managing Employee (RME). This person is tasked with meeting the Board’s requirements and passing the exam. The RME must also fill out an application and obtain a license, unless they already hold one. For a copy of the RME application, please visit:
The RME must also be at least 18 years of age and have 4 years of supervisory work experience in a related construction field. If the RME has completed a training or vocational program, it may count toward one year of the experience requirement.
Be sure to read all the requirements and directions included in the application packet. Follow all instructions and be sure to answer all the questions completely. Incomplete or missing information on the application only delays the licensing process. All applicants should also read and become familiar with the contractor laws and rules in the State of Hawaii. For more information, please visit:
Sole Proprietors MUST submit the following along with their completed license application:
- 3 certificates verifying their work experience. Each certificate must be completed by a separate person. The sole proprietor may not fill out their own work experience certificates. In order to count toward the experience requirement, the work experience must be within the past 10 years.
- Sole Proprietors are required to provide their Social Security Number on their application. Be sure to provide this number to avoid delays in the licensing process
Sole Proprietors and ALL OTHER Business Types MUST complete the following steps and submit the following documents along with their completed license application:
- Submit a financial statement prepared by a licensed certified public accountant (CPA). The Board does not accept financial statements prepared by bookkeepers or tax preparers. The financial statement may be no more than 1 year old. It must be signed by both the preparer and the applicant. Applicants may have a financial statement prepared for them, or they may have the CPA use the Contractors Financial Statement form provided by the Board. For a copy of the form, visit the link below:
- All applicants must submit a current credit report. The credit report must be no more than 6 months old, and show the applicant’s credit history over the past 5 years. Businesses other than sole proprietors must submit a current credit report for each owner, member, partner and manager within their company.
- Applicants must register with the Hawaii Business Registration Division of the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, to obtain a certificate of good standing. The certificate of good standing proves that the contractor is of good moral character, that they follow good business practices and that they demonstrate financial integrity. They must also register their trade name with the Division if they are using a name other than their given name for their business. For more information call the Business Registration Division at:
- Applicants must obtain a current Hawaii State Tax Clearance from the State Department of Taxation. The clearance may be no more than 6 months old, and must bear the original State Department of Taxation stamp. For more information, please call the Hawaii State Department of Taxation at:
*Businesses, with the exception of sole proprietors must submit a separate application, completed by their RME. If the business is employing an RME that already holds a license, they must submit a written letter confirming that they employ a licensed RME.
RMEs MUST submit the following along with their completed license application:
- 3 certificates verifying their work experience. Each certificate must be completed by a separate person. The RME may not fill out their own work experience certificates. In order to count toward the experience requirement, the work experience must be within the past 10 years.
- Current credit report from the past 6 months. The credit report must show the RME’s credit history over the past 5 years. This is to prove that the RME demonstrates financial integrity and responsibility.
- RMEs are required to provide their Social Security Number on their license application. Be sure to provide this number to avoid delays in the licensing process.
*All RMEs must be employed by a licensed business entity in order to operate as a General Contractor in the State of Hawaii.
Submitting an Application
To avoid delays in the licensing process, be sure that the application is complete and that all required documents and forms are in order before submitting the application to the Board.
There is a $50 application fee. The Board accepts payment in the form of checks made payable to “Commerce and Consumer Affairs.”
*Additional licensing fees will apply once the Board approves the application and the RME or sole proprietor passes the qualifying exam.
Applications are due on the 20th of the month; to be reviewed the following month. For example, submit the application by February 20th for the application to be reviewed during the month of March. The Board does not receive or review applications during the month of December.
Mail the completed application, along with all required documents and fees to:
Contractor Licensing Board
DCCA, PVL Licensing Branch
P.O. Box 3469
Honolulu, HI 96801
Applications, documents and fees may also be delivered, in-person, to:
335 Merchant Street
Honolulu, HI 96813
For further questions and information about the application process, please call the Contractors Licensing Board at:
Once the Board approves the license application, they will send the sole proprietor or RME the information needed to take the exam, including 2 letters noting that the license application was approved. One of the letters is for the contractor for record-keeping purposes. The other must be attached to the exam registration form.
Licensing exams in the State of Hawaii are administered by Prometric testing services. The RME or the sole proprietor is responsible for registering for and taking both portions of the exam, including:
- Business and Law Exam- covering business practices and construction laws in the State of Hawaii. This exam is based on the contractor licensing laws and rules found here:
- Trade Exam- covering information related to the specific trade that the contractor is applying for.
The Prometric Candidate Information Bulletin-State of Hawaii, provides all the information needed to register for and prepare for the exam, including study and reference materials. To view a copy of the bulletin, go to:
The cost to take the exam is $75 per portion. The total cost to take both portions of the exam is $150. Prometric accepts payments in the form of:
- Money Order
The RME or sole proprietor must pass each portion of the exam with a minimum score of 75%. Score reports are received within 10 days of taking the exam. If a passing score is received, the Board will also mail out the final information needed to complete the licensing process. If the RME or sole proprietor did not pass the exam, they will receive their score along with the information needed to re-take the exam.
For more information about contractor licensing exams in the State of Hawaii, contact Prometric at:
Final Licensing Steps
Once the RME or sole proprietor has passed the exam, the contractor will receive the final information needed to complete the licensing process. Contractors must obtain the proper forms of insurance and pay the licensing fees.
Before a sole proprietor or business entity may receive their license, they must obtain general liability and worker’s compensation insurance. Insurance must be purchased from a company authorized to do business in the State of Hawaii.
Worker’s compensation insurance is required, unless the business is a sole proprietor and they do not plan to hold employees. General liability insurance is required in the following minimum amounts:
- Property Damage Coverage of $50,000 per occurrence
- Bodily Injury Coverage of $100,000 per person
- Bodily Injury Coverage of $300,000 per occurrence
Next the contractor is required to pay their licensing fee. The Board accepts checks made payable to “Commerce and Consumer Affairs.” Follow the chart below to determine the appropriate licensing fee:
|Applicant Type||License Fee||Applying Between||Year (i.e. 2014, 2015, 2016 etc)|
|Sole Proprietor or Business Entity||$545||October 1st and September 30th||Even Numbered Year|
|Sole Proprietor or Business Entity||$415||October 1st and September 30th||Odd Numbered Year|
|RME applicants||$335||October 1st and September 30th||Even Numbered Year|
|RME applicants||$225||October 1st and September 30th||Odd Numbered Year|
Once the contractor has provided proof of their insurance coverage and paid the fee, the Board will issue the license. During their license term, contractors are required to maintain an office or place of business where they display their license certificate. Business entities and RMEs must notify the Board within 60 days if the RME decided to leave their position. Businesses, other than sole proprietors must employ and RME at all times.
How Long is a Hawaii General Contractors License Valid?
General Contractor licenses are good for a period of 2 years in the State of Hawaii. All licenses expire on September 30th of the even-numbered year. All renewal documents and applications must be turned in to the Board before September 30th of the expiration year. In addition to sole proprietors and business entities, RMEs are also responsible for renewing their license.
The Board will mail out renewal notice around August 1st, prior to expiration. If the contractor does not renew their license on time, the license will go into a “forfeited” status. Afterward, the contractor has 60 days to complete the renewal process before their license is void and they have to start the application process all over again.
At renewal time, all business entities and sole proprietors are required to submit the following documentation:
- Current Tax Clearance from the State Department of Taxation
- Proof of General Liability Insurance
- Proof of Worker’s Compensation Insurance
The cost to renew a Hawaii General Contractors License is $275 for sole proprietors and business entities. The cost to renew a RME license is $160. The Board accepts payments in the form of checks made payable to, “Commerce and Consumer Affairs.”
Table of Fees
|Fee||What is it For?||When is it Due?|
|$50||Application fee for Sole Proprietors, Business Entities and RMEs||Upon submitting the licensing application|
|$75||Cost to take each portion of the qualifying exam ($150 total for both portions)||Upon registering for the exam|
|$575||Licensing fee for business entities and sole proprietors applying between October 1st and September 30th of an even-numbered year||Upon passing the exam and receiving the final licensing instructions from The Board|
|$415||Licensing fee for business entities and sole proprietors applying between October 1st and September 30th of an odd-numbered year||Upon passing the exam and receiving the final licensing instructions from The Board|
|$335||Licensing fee for RMEs applying between October 1st and September 30th of an even-numbered year||Upon passing the exam and receiving the final licensing instructions from The Board|
|$225||Licensing fee for RMEs applying between October 1st and September 30th of an odd-numbered year||Upon passing the exam and receiving the final licensing instructions from The Board|