Hawaii general contractor license and insurance requirements

Hawaii general contractor license and insurance requirements

Courtney Westlake
By Courtney Westlake
Jan 10, 2023
8 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 residential or commercial 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 project's total price — including labor, materials and taxes — is less than $1,000.

How to get a general contractor license in Hawaii

The application process to become a Hawaii contractor license involves the following steps:

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

General contractor license application requirements

Hawaii offers three license classifications for general contractors:4

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

Before applying for a general contractor license, you must be 18 years or older and have at least four years of supervisory experience in the past 10 years.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’ll provide you with the registration forms for the licensing exam.

The exam is administered by Prometric and covers business and law related to general contracting work and trade knowledge.

The board will contact you with additional licensing information if you pass the exam with a score of 75% or better.6

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

The licensing process in Hawaii can take four to six months to complete.

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 necessary information.

After submitting the additional information, the board will review your submissions and approve your general contractor license.

Hawaii general contractor license fees

You need to be aware of multiple fees when applying to become a licensed contractor.

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

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

Once you're approved for a general contractor license, you must submit a license fee. The fee varies from $334 to $663 depending on when you apply and if you register 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. You must submit the renewal application, fee, and all required documents by the deadline to avoid your license becoming 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 apply, 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 contractor 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. Your general contractor licensure is automatically forfeited if you don't maintain the required bond.7

Insurance requirements in Hawaii

Once you’ve applied and passed the exam, the Contractors’ License Board requires proof of liability insurance coverage before they issue your license. In addition, you may need other types of general contractor insurance in Hawaii.

General Liability insurance

General liability insurance can help protect your business if you are found liable for an injury to someone other than an employee or damage to property belonging to someone else.

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.

Licensed contractors in Hawaii must also have a certificate of insurance for property damage liability with a minimum of $50,000 for each occurrence.

Workers’ Compensation insurance

Hawaii workers’ compensation insurance can help provide important coverage for lost wages, medical expenses and other related expenses if an employee gets injured at work. 

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

Commercial auto insurance can help cover costs like medical expenses and property damage if you or an employee is involved in an accident while driving a work vehicle.

The state of Hawaii requires all vehicles to have minimum auto coverage of $20,000 per person, $40,000 per accident and $10,000 for property damage.8 

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 on your computer or mobile device and receive a certificate of insurance online in as little as 10 minutes.

Get an instant quote.


1 2020 Census Data: Hawaii's Population Climbs 7% in 10 Years

2 The Construction Industry Is Still Going Strong In Hawaii

3 Hawaii.gov: Contractor Frequently Asked Questions

4 Professional & Vocational Licensing Division

5 Contractor License Board Application Forms & Publications

6 Candidate Information Bulletin State of Hawaii

7 Maintain Bond Requirements

8 Motor Vehicle Insurance Information

Hawaii general contractor license and insurance requirements


author courtney westlake 500x500
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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