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Hawaii general contractor license and insurance requirements

Hawaii general contractor license and insurance requirements

By Courtney Westlake
Mar 3, 2022
7 min read

Living in a tropical paradise like Hawaii is a dream for many. According to the U.S. census, the population of Hawaii has grown by 7% in the last decade.1

As more people move to Hawaii, the demand for construction is growing, leading to a demand for general contractors to help people build and remodel their dream homes.2

Interested in working as a general contractor in Hawaii? Here’s everything you need to know about Hawaii general contractor license requirements:

Do you need a license to be a general contractor in Hawaii?

Anyone who advertises their ability to construct or make changes to a building or structure, even if it’s just installation work, must hold a Hawaii general contractor license.3

The only exception to this rule is if a project doesn’t require a building permit and the full price of the project — including labor, materials and taxes — is less than $1,000.

How to get a general contractor license in Hawaii

To get a general contractor license you must:

  1. Submit a Hawaii general contractor license application to the Contractors’ License Board
  2. Sit for a licensing exam
  3. Provide the Board with the proof of your general contractor insurance

General contractor license application requirements

Hawaii offers three classifications of general contractor licenses: 

  1. General engineering contractor license
  2. General building contractor license
  3. Specialty contractor license 

Before you can apply for a general contractor license, you must be 18 years or older and at least have at least four years of supervisory experience in the past 10.5

The Hawaii license application requirements are:

  • Three notarized certificates to support your supervisory experience
  • A list of past projects detailing your supervisory experience
  • A credit report less than six months old 
  • A financial statement accompanied by a report from an independent accountant 
  • A current Hawaii state tax clearance with an original state department of taxation stamp

How to take the Hawaii general contractor license exam

Once the board approves your general contractor license application, they provide you with the registration forms for the licensing exam.

The exam covers business and law related to general contracting work and trade knowledge.

If you pass the exam with a score of 75% or better, the board contacts you with additional licensing information.6

How long does it take to get a general contractor license?

It can take four to six months to get your general contractor license in Hawaii.

The deadline to submit your application is the first Tuesday of the month, two months before the board meets to review it. Once the board approves your application, you need to register for the exam within 60 days. After you pass, the board will request the rest of the information they need.

Once you submit the additional information, the board will review all of your submissions and approve your general contractor license.

Hawaii general contractor license fees

There are multiple fees you need to be aware of when you are applying for your general contractor license.

When you submit your application, you need to submit a $50 application fee.

When you register for the exam, you must submit a $75 exam fee for each part of the exam, totaling $150.

Once you’re approved for a general contractor license, you submit a license fee. The fee varies from $334 to $663 depending on when you apply and if you are registering as a business entity, sole proprietor, or Responsible Managing Employee (RME).

The total cost to get a Hawaii general contractor license can vary from $534 to $913.

How to renew a Hawaii license

Hawaii general contractor license renewal happens biannually. All licenses expire on September 30 of even-numbered years.

If you need to renew, you should receive the application by April 15 in even-numbered years. If you don’t submit the renewal application, renewal fee and all required documents by the deadline, you risk making your license inactive.

The renewal fee is $353 for business entities and sole proprietors, and $208 for responsible managing employees (RMEs).

General contractor license reciprocity

Unfortunately, even if you hold a general contractor license in another state, there is no Hawaii general contractor license reciprocity. You still have to submit an application, take the exam, and wait for board approval.

Bond requirements for Hawaii general contractors

There is no standard bond requirement for Hawaii general contractors. But the Contractors’ License Board can require each Hawaii general contractor license applicant to maintain surety bond coverage and keep the evidence on file at the board’s office. 

If you’re required to have a bond, you must maintain the bond for at least one year before requesting a waiver. If you don’t maintain the required bond, your general contractor license is automatically forfeit.7

Insurance requirements in Hawaii

Once you’ve applied and passed the exam, the Contractors’ License Board requires proof of self-employed general contractor insurance before they issue your license. So, what kind of general contractor insurance do you need in Hawaii?

General Liability insurance

All Hawaii general contractor license applicants must submit certificates of insurance for bodily injury liability with minimums of $100,000 for each person and $300,000 for each occurrence. Bodily injury liability is covered in your general liability insurance policy up to your policy limits.

In Hawaii, you must also have a certificate of insurance for property damage liability with a minimum of $50,000 for each occurrence. Property damage liability insurance protects you in case of liability for damage to property belonging to someone else during your work and is usually part of your general liability policy.

Workers’ Compensation insurance

If you’re applying for a general contractor license and have employees, you’ll need a certificate of workers’ compensation insurance from a company authorized to do business in Hawaii.

Commercial Auto insurance

Don’t rely on your personal insurance policy when it comes to adequate auto coverage; commercial auto insurance will cover any liabilities for injuries or property damage when you drive a commercial vehicle.

How NEXT Insurance supports Hawaii general contractors

NEXT Insurance specializes in small business insurance for construction professionals. We can help you with your Hawaii business insurance needs.

If you’re a general contractor in Hawaii, you can apply for coverage and receive a certificate of insurance online.

Get an instant quote on your computer or mobile device. It only takes minutes!

Wondering what states require a general contractor license? Find out the general contractor license requirements in every state.


2020 Census Data: Hawaii's Population Climbs 7% in 10 Years

The Construction Industry Is Still Going Strong In Hawaii

Professional & Vocational Licensing Division

Contractor License Board Application Forms & Publications

Candidate Information Bulletin State of Hawaii

7 Professional & Vocational Licensing Division

Hawaii general contractor license and insurance requirements


About the author
Courtney Westlake is a writer and journalist with 10+ years of experience crafting content, specializing in B2B and financial writing. She's contributed to Stripe, HSBC, BigCommerce, Woman’s Day and the TODAY Show.
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