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Hawaii Nonprofit Service We’re Just Not Annoying®

How to Start a Nonprofit in Hawaii

To incorporate a Hawaii nonprofit, file nonprofit Articles of Incorporation with the Hawaii Secretary of State. This filing officially creates your organization, but it’s really just one step toward pursuing your nonprofit’s goals. The main steps to forming a Hawaii nonprofit are as follows:

  1. File Hawaii Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation
  2. Get a Federal EIN tax ID from the IRS
  3. Register for state taxes, licenses, and permits
  4. Hold your organizational meeting and adopt bylaws
  5. Apply for federal and/or state tax exemptions
  6. Register as a Hawaii charity
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Hawaii nonprofit Articles of Incorporation free download. When you’re done filling out the form, submit it to your state.

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How to File Hawaii Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation

To form a Hawaii nonprofit, file nonprofit Articles of Incorporation using the following steps:
Step 1 Choose a name for your new nonprofit
Step 2 Decide what address you’d like to list publicly
Step 3 Decide if you want to hire a registered agent service to minimize public disclosures
Step 4 Appoint at least one incorporator to complete, sign, and submit your articles
Step 5 Decide if your nonprofit will have members
Step 6 If your nonprofit intends to seek 501(c)(3) federal tax-exempt status, expand your articles to include the special language and provisions required by the IRS
Step 7 File online and pay $26 with a credit card (plus a $2.50 processing fee), or mail your printed articles to the Business Registration Division / PO Box 40 / Honolulu, Hawaii 96810 with a check or money order for $26

How Long Does it Take to Start a Hawaii Nonprofit?



File your articles online yourself, pay the $25 expedite fee (on top of the other filing fees), and get a response from the state in about 3 days.


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Go with Northwest’s professional nonprofit formation service, select “3 Day Filing Time” and answer a few simple questions, and then let our expert Corporate Guides do the rest.



yourself (or select “10 Day Filing Time” when you hire Northwest to form your nonprofit).

How Much Does It Cost To Start A Hawaii Nonprofit?

Hawaii charges all filers at least $26 in combined fees to file nonprofit Articles of Incorporation, which includes the $25 filing fee and a $1 State Archive fee. Online filing costs an additional $2.50, and you have the option to pay a $25 expedite fee to get your articles processed in three days.

Hire Northwest to form your nonprofit, and the total cost is $253.50 for 10 day filing and $278.50 for 3 day filing. This includes a full year of registered agent service and access to our free nonprofit forms.

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How Much Does A Nonprofit In Hawaii Cost Each Year?

Your nonprofit will pay either $3.50 ($2.50 plus a $1 state archive fee for online filing) or $6 ($5 plus the $1 archive fee for paper filing) to submit the Hawaii annual report each year, and you can pay an additional $25 for expedited processing.

If your nonprofit is a charity, you’ll likely pay an annual fee (between $25 and $600) to the Hawaii Attorney General based on your nonprofit’s annual revenue. See the section on Hawaii charity registration below.

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What Is The Hawaii Nonprofit Annual Report?

Hawaii requires nonprofit corporations to file a yearly report updating their information on the state’s records (corporate name, registered agent information, directors, etc.). You can file online for $3.50, by mail for $6.00, or in person at the Hawaii Secretary of State’s office for $6.00. You also have the option to add $25 for expedited processing (around 1-3 business days).

If you’d rather not bother keeping up with these deadlines, filing options, and fees, sign up for our Hawaii Annual Report Service for an additional fee when you hire Northwest.

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Is A Hawaii Nonprofit Registered Agent Required?

Yes, you’re required to appoint a Hawaii registered agent to receive legal notices (service of process) for your nonprofit. You can appoint yourself, someone you know, or a registered agent service, but just keep in mind that your registered agent must be available during normal business hours at a Hawaii street address listed on your nonprofit’s articles of incorporation. If you put down your own residential or office address, expect to always have a mailbox full of junk mail, and don’t be surprised to find salespeople showing up at your door.

A better option? Hire Northwest, put our Hawaii address on your articles instead, let us do the waiting, and devote your time to managing and growing your nonprofit on your own terms. Need to hold a lengthy meeting? No problem. If a legal notice arrives, we’ll be there to get it. Need to travel? Again, no problem. If a service of process arrives from the State of Hawaii while you’re gone, we’ll scan it and send it to you on the day we receive it.

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Will My Hawaii Nonprofit Be Tax-Exempt?

Not automatically. To seek federal tax-exempt status for your nonprofit, submit the Application for Recognition of Exemption to the IRS, pay either $275 or $600 depending on the size and nature of your nonprofit, and prepare to wait 3-6 months or more while the IRS examines your nonprofit’s history, purpose, formation documents, and finances. Currently, the IRS recognizes over two dozen different types of exempt organizations under Section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code, but most nonprofits seek 501(c)(3) for public charities and private foundations. If your nonprofit is a charitable organization, be sure your articles of incorporation include the special tax-exempt language and provisions required by the IRS.

If your nonprofit manages to obtain 501(c)(3) federal tax-exempt status, your organization won’t have to pay the Hawaii state income tax. However, your nonprofit will need to apply if you intend to seek a general excise tax exemption and other Hawaii state tax exemptions that may be available to your nonprofit.

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Do I Need A Tax ID Number (EIN) For A Hawaii Nonprofit?

A federal employer identification number (FEIN or EIN) is a little like your nonprofit’s social security number, and getting one is a must for any new nonprofit attempting to open bank accounts, set up accounts with vendors, or apply for federal and state tax exemptions. After the Hawaii Secretary of State approves your articles, you can apply an EIN through the IRS website or by phone. Or you can add our convenient EIN service for an additional fee when you hire Northwest.

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Does A Hawaii Nonprofit Need A Business License?

Hawaii doesn’t issue a statewide business license (at least not by that name), but your nonprofit needs to submit a Basic Business Application to the Hawaii Department of Taxation (Form BB-1). This is a consolidated application for those tax accounts, such as the withholding tax and general excise tax (GET), that may be relevant to your nonprofit’s activities. Additionally, some Hawaii cities and counties may require licenses and permits of their own.

Do I Have To Register My Nonprofit As A Charity In Hawaii?

Most Hawaii nonprofits that solicit charitable contributions need to register with the Attorney General’s Tax and Charities Division. The Attorney General’s website provides an online registration system, and your nonprofit needs to set up an account to register. There is no registration fee, but each year Hawaii nonprofits submit a financial report (also called an annual report) to the Attorney General and pay an annual fee based on the organization’s gross revenue for that year. Here’s how the fees break down:

Annual Gross Revenue Annual Fee
Less than $25,000 None
$25,000 to less than $50,000 $25.00
$50,000 to less than $100,000 $50.00
$100,000 to less than $250,000 $100.00
$250,000 to less than $500,000 $150.00
$500,000 to less than $1 million $200.00
At least $1 million but less than $2 million $250.00
At least $2 million but less than $5 million $350.00
$5 million and over $600.00


There are some exceptions, including parent-teachers associations, some religious corporations, nonprofit hospitals, and charitable organizations that consistently receive less than $25,000 in annual contributions, but most nonprofits should expect to register, file an annual financial report with the Attorney General, and pay an annual fee each year.

Can I Register An Out Of State Nonprofit In Hawaii?

Absolutely. To expand your out of state nonprofit’s operations to Hawaii, submit the Application for Certificate of Authority with the Hawaii Secretary of State. Check out our Hawaii foreign nonprofit page for details.

Does A Hawaii Nonprofit Need Bylaws?

Hawaii expects your nonprofit’s board of directors to adopt bylaws at its organizational meeting. This is your nonprofit’s first official meeting, held after the state files your articles of incorporation, at which your nonprofit appoints its officers, ratifies a conflict of interest policy, and adopts its bylaws (among other organizational business). It’s important to hold this meeting before your nonprofit applies to the IRS for recognition as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt entity, since the IRS only wants to deal with a fully formed nonprofit.

What are bylaws, and why do they matter? Bylaws are your nonprofit’s internal rules. They govern, for instance, how someone becomes a director, the range and limitations of each officers’ responsibilities, the rights of members, and a host of other questions that need clear answers in advance. If you’re concerned that you don’t have the experience necessary to write effective bylaws, Northwest can help. When you hire Northwest, you’ll gain access to our adaptable template for writing bylaws, as well as numerous other free nonprofit forms to help you get started.

Hawaii Nonprofit Articles Of Incorporation Requirements

Corporate Name

Your Hawaii nonprofit’s name can’t state or suggest that it exists for a purposes other than those allowed by Hawaii law or indicated in your nonprofit’s articles of incorporation, but the name does not need to include a corporate ending (“Corporation,” “Inc.,” etc.). Your nonprofit’s name should also be distinguishable from other entities on file with the Hawaii Secretary of State’s office. Conduct a preliminary name search at the Hawaii Department of Commerce & Consumer Affairs, Business Registration Division’s website.

Principal Office

Include a mailing address for your nonprofit’s initial principal place of business. When you hire Northwest, you can put our Hawaii mailing address here.

Registered Agent

Include the name, county, and Hawaii street address of your nonprofit’s registered agent. Your registered agent is the individual or business authorized to receive legal notices on your nonprofit’s behalf. When you hire Northwest, you’ll list our name and Hawaii street address here.


List the name and address of at least one incorporator (you can list more than one if you have more). An incorporator is just a person authorized to complete, sign, and submit your articles of incorporation. Hire Northwest to form your nonprofit, and we’ll be your incorporator.


Indicate if your nonprofit will or will not have members.

Additional Provisions

The form Hawaii provides for a nonprofit’s articles of incorporation is fairly minimal, and it should do fine if you’re not seeking federal or state tax exemptions. But if your nonprofit intends to seek 501(c)(3) federal tax-exempt status, the basic requirements for Hawaii’s nonprofit articles of incorporation won’t work for you. Instead, you’ll need to expand your articles to include a statement of purpose and a provision governing the dissolution of your nonprofit’s assets (in case it ever shuts down), and these additional provisions will need to use the specific tax-exempt language required by the IRS.

Corporate Compliance
by Local Corporate Guides®