Commercial Operation FAQs
All operators of commercial vessels or water sports equipment must obtain a commercial use permit from DOBOR, pursuant to Hawaii Administrative Rule Section 13-256-3. To view DOBOR’s Administrative Rules, click here.
To expedite the permit process, all applicants can fill out a Commercial Use Questionnaire ahead of time and bring the questionnaire along with all relevant documentation in to a DOBOR District Office to complete the commercial use permit application process.
Prior to implementation of this rule, DLNR was only able to regulate commercial activity on State ocean waters if the activity originated from a state harbor or launching facility under the jurisdiction of DOBOR or thrill craft, parasailing, water sledding, and high speed boating occurring in ocean recreation management areas. Effective 9/25/14, DLNR is now able to track and regulate commercial operators on state ocean waters regardless of where they launch from. This new permitting scheme serves the important dual purpose of monitoring commercial activity levels on state waters as well as protecting public safety by ensuring that operators are carrying sufficient liability insurance and adhering to State standards.
As of 9/25/14 the rule has been effective. Commercial operators may be asked to show proof of permitting to enforcement officers upon demand.
This rule applies to all operators of commercial vessels and watersports equipment as defined in Hawaii Administrative Rule Section 13-230-8.
This rule applies to all State ocean waters.
No one who is an operator of commercial vessels, water craft or water sports equipment is exempt from this rule. Even if you already possess a commercial permit for the use of a state harbor or other facility, you need to obtain a permit for your use of State ocean waters.
Failure to obtain a permit could result in citation, fines and confiscation of equipment.
- For commercial permittees operating from state land: The cost for the new permit shall be $300.00 per month or 3% of your gross receipts, whichever is greater, due and payable by the first day of each month.
- Commercial permittees operating from a private or county facility or land and said operation does not involve the use of state fast land or land within a shoreline area: $300.00 per month due and payable by the first day of each month.
- For Commercial permittees possessing a harbor commercial use permit and a commercial use permit for state ocean waters or a navigable stream or a catamaran registration certificate, who is paying 3 per cent of gross receipts per month under the harbor commercial use permit, shall not be required to pay an additional 3 per cent of gross receipts per month under the commercial use permit for state ocean waters or a navigable stream or a catamaran registration certificate, provided that the payment made to the department is based on the total of gross receipts acquired under the harbor commercial use permit and the commercial use permit for state ocean waters or a navigable stream or a catamaran registration certificate.
Applicants should go in to their nearest DOBOR district office with a completed commercial use questionnaire and the documents listed in question 10 below to complete a commercial use application and submit it for the department’s review.
In order to comply with the new rules, you are required to provide the following documentation:
- General Excise Tax License
- Commercial insurance policy naming the State of Hawaii as an additional insured, containing sufficient coverage limits and meeting all other requirements as outlined in Hawaii Administrative Rule Section 13-231-65
- Certificate of Compliance from Hawaii Compliance Express, OR a copy of each of the following:
- Certificate of Compliance for the Hawaii Department of Labor
- Tax Clearance from the Hawaii Department of Taxation (State of Hawaii Department of Taxation Form A-6)
- Certificate of Good Standing from the Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs
- Articles of incorporation or operating agreement, if applicable
- PUC for vehicle(s), if applicable
- Certificate of Documentation or Certificate of Inspection for any vessels used in your commercial operation, if applicable.
- Any relevant permits or letters of permission allowing you to access ocean waters from the shoreline, if applicable. Please note: if you cross county, state or private land, and/or conduct commercial activities therein, you may be required to obtain a permit from the landowner. Issuance of a commercial use permit from DOBOR does not grant you transit rights to access the shoreline or conduct commercial activities on shore.
All of the foregoing documentation needs to be included with all commercial use permit applications, and submitted to your nearest DOBOR district office.
Issued commercial use permits will be valid for up to one year.
This information was last updated on 8/13/21.
Department of Land & Natural Resources
Division of Boating & Ocean Recreation
4 Sand Island Access Road
Honolulu, Hawaii 96819
Tel: (808) 587-1966
Fax: (808) 587-1977
DLNR Enforcement: 643-DLNR (3567)
Hawaii Ocean Safety Team
U.S. Coast Guard
- News & Notices To Mariners