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How to Register a Business in Maine – An Extensive Manual

How to Register Your Business In Maine
(Last Updated On: January 3, 2024)

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Embarking on a business venture can be exhilarating and fulfilling, but the prospect of registering your company might seem daunting, particularly for those new to entrepreneurship. Fear not, as with proper guidance and resources, the process of registering your business in Maine can be smooth and stress-free.

Within this comprehensive guide, we will provide a detailed, step-by-step overview to assist you in the registration process for your business in Maine. Additionally, we will offer valuable recommendations and resources to enhance the accessibility of the entire procedure. This guide caters to both new businesses and existing ones seeking registration, breaking down the process into seven manageable steps.

Recognizing the complexity of business registration, we have also identified a selection of high-quality business registration services, such as ZenBusiness, to support you throughout the journey. Let’s delve into the details and successfully accomplish your business registration in Maine!

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How to Register Your Business in Maine in 7 Simple Steps

Starting a business in Maine is a hassle-free experience when you’re well-informed about the necessary steps. Implement this expert 7-step process to facilitate the prompt registration of your Maine-based business.

Step 1: Determine Your Business Structure

The appropriate business structure for your Maine-based enterprise depends on the nature of your business and your growth objectives. You can choose from several incorporated and unincorporated business types. The following is a brief overview of each structure and its associated requirements.

Please note that only certain business structures require registration with the Maine Secretary of State, such as those necessitating incorporation.

Sole Proprietorship

In Maine, a sole proprietorship is the simplest business structure, with the owner and business considered the same legal entity. The owner is personally responsible for the business’s debts and liabilities. Establishing a sole proprietorship is relatively easy and has limited legal and administrative requirements. In Maine, you do not need to register a sole proprietorship with the state, but you may need to obtain local permits or licenses.

General Partnership

A general partnership is a business owned by two or more individuals who share profits and losses. Each partner is personally liable for the business’s debts and legal obligations. In Maine, you do not need to register a general partnership with the state, but you may need to file a “Maine Assumed Name Certificate” (DBA) in the county where your business is located.

Limited Partnership (LP)

In Maine, a limited partnership consists of one or more general partners who manage the business and assume unlimited personal liability and one or more limited partners who contribute capital but have limited liability. To establish an LP in Maine, you must file a “Certificate of Limited Partnership” with the Maine Secretary of State.

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

An LLC is a flexible business structure that offers the limited liability protection of a corporation while maintaining the tax benefits and simplicity of a partnership. In Maine, you must file a “Certificate of Formation” with the Maine Secretary of State and create an Operating Agreement to outline the company’s management and ownership structure.

Corporation

A corporation is a separate legal entity from its owners (shareholders) and provides limited liability protection. Two types of corporations exist in Maine:

  • C-corporations
  • S-corporations

To establish a corporation in Maine, you must file “Articles of Incorporation” with the Maine Secretary of State. Corporations necessitate more formalities, such as creating bylaws, issuing stock, and holding regular board and shareholder meetings.

Choose the business structure in Maine that best suits your needs based on liability protection, taxation, and management requirements. Consult with a legal or business professional if you need assistance in making this decision.

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Step 2: Select a Unique Business Name

In Maine, there are several avenues available for naming your business. You can choose a name by registering a legal entity name, obtaining a trademark, or registering a legal name while operating under a different one. It’s important to note that naming rules and regulations vary from state to state, so it’s necessary to review the specific requirements for Maine.

Similar to the process of incorporating your business, the naming approach you select in Maine will depend on the individual needs and circumstances of your entity.

While you have the option to pursue all three routes to ensure the exclusivity of your business name, you can also opt to utilize a single option. Although it’s not mandatory, it’s recommended to use the same name for each registration method.

Let’s explore the details of each naming option in Maine:

In Maine, businesses must register a legal entity name, which serves as the official identification of the company by the state. Entity names need to be unique, ensuring that your business is protected from the possibility of another entity having the same name.

Maine’s naming laws encompass guidelines regarding company suffixes (e.g., LLC, LP, or Corp) and require the name to accurately reflect the type of business being registered. You can check for name availability by utilizing the Maine Secretary of State’s database.

Trademark

In Maine, a trademark serves as a form of intellectual property protection for a business name or logo on a national level. To safeguard your name or logo, it’s crucial to conduct a comprehensive search in the USPTO database to ensure it’s not already registered.

Upon registration, a trademark grants exclusivity and prohibits others from using the same or similar name or logo for similar goods or services, providing nationwide protection. However, it’s important to note that obtaining a trademark does not automatically grant the right to use the name or logo in all circumstances.

Doing Business As (DBA)

In Maine, you have the option to register your business under an official name while operating under a different one. This is known as a Doing Business As (DBA) name. To establish a DBA, you must file a Certificate of Assumed Name with the appropriate county clerk’s office where your business is located. While these names are subject to federal trademark laws, there is no requirement for a DBA to be unique at the state level.

By understanding and considering these naming options, you can successfully register your business name in Maine and protect your brand identity.

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Step 3: Consider Taxes and Other Costs in Maine

When operating a business in Maine, it’s essential to consider taxes and other associated costs. Understanding the tax obligations and potential expenses will help you effectively manage your finances and make informed business decisions. Here are some key points to consider:

Maine Sales Tax

  • Maine has a statewide sales tax of 5.5%
  • The sales tax applies to most goods and services sold in Maine, with a few exceptions
  • Businesses that sell taxable goods or services in Maine are required to collect sales tax from their customers
  • Businesses can remit sales tax to the Maine Department of Revenue by mail, online, or through a third-party vendor

Maine Income Tax

  • Maine has a graduated income tax rate ranging from 5.8% to 7.15%
  • The income tax is assessed on the net income of individuals and businesses
  • Individuals and businesses must file an income tax return with the Maine Department of Revenue if their net income exceeds certain thresholds
  • The income tax can be paid by mail, online, or through a third-party vendor

Employer Payroll Tax Withholding

All employers in Maine are required to withhold federal taxes from their employee’s wages. The taxes that must be withheld include the following:

  • Social Security tax (6.2%)
  • Medicare tax (1.45%)

Federal income tax (varies)

Employers are also required to pay a portion of these taxes to the federal government. For more information on employer payroll tax withholding, please visit the IRS website.

In addition to the taxes mentioned above, Maine businesses may also be subject to other taxes, such as excise taxes, property taxes, and franchise taxes. Please consult with a tax professional to determine which taxes apply to your business.

Simplifying the registration procedure, business owners in Maine can avail themselves of online services such as ZenBusiness. Esteemed for its expertise, ZenBusiness provides an array of services aimed at assisting entrepreneurs in registering their businesses, encompassing the submission of filings to the Secretary of State, procurement of an Employer Identification Number (EIN), and establishment of an operating agreement. 

Moreover, ZenBusiness offers ongoing compliance support to ensure businesses maintain favorable compliance standing within the state.

Step 4: Register and Acquire Licenses and Permits in Maine

To ensure legal compliance and operational readiness, it’s necessary to apply for the appropriate licenses and permits for your business. Here are the key registrations and permits you need to consider:

Tax Registration: If you plan to sell goods in Maine or employ individuals within the state, you must register your business with the Maine Revenue Services (MRS) and the Maine Department of Labor (DOL). The MRS/DOL application for tax registration can be used for both types of registration.

Employer Identification Number (EIN): If your business has employees or is subject to separate taxation, obtaining a federal Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS is essential. Even if not mandatory, obtaining an EIN can be beneficial for business purposes, such as opening a business bank account or facilitating payment processing. You can acquire an EIN by completing an online application without any filing fees.

Regulatory Licenses and Permits: These pertain to various areas, including health and safety, environmental regulations, building and construction, and specific industries or services. The specific licenses required for your business are typically managed at the local level by the town or city authorities. Contact the appropriate town or city office where your business is located for detailed information. The Maine Local Government Portal provides contact information for town offices.

Professional and Occupational Licenses: These licenses are specific to individuals working in various professions or occupations. The state website offers a comprehensive list of professional and occupational licenses issued at the state level. You can refer to the Resources by Profession section on the state website for further details.

Ensuring compliance with these licensing and permit requirements will help your business operate within the legal framework and maintain necessary certifications for your industry or profession. It’s advisable to seek guidance from the relevant authorities and complete the application processes on time.

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Step 5: Open a Bank Account For Your Business in Maine

Once you have obtained your EIN, you can proceed to open a business bank account in Maine.

The laws governing LLPs, LLCs, and corporations necessitate the establishment of a business bank account. However, sole proprietors and unincorporated partnerships are not legally required to maintain separate personal and business accounts.

Opening a business account in Maine is a straightforward process involving a visit to a local bank and the completion of the requisite paperwork. It’s prudent to conduct a thorough evaluation of different banking institutions, comparing their rates and advantages, before selecting a specific provider.

Even if you operate as a sole proprietor or an unincorporated partnership in Maine, it’s advisable to maintain a designated company bank account to ensure the segregation of personal and business finances. This will prove beneficial in case you decide to incorporate your business at a later stage, saving you potential inconveniences.

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Step 6: Protect Your Intellectual Property in Maine

When establishing a business in Maine, it’s crucial to consider the protection of your valuable intellectual property (IP) assets, depending on the nature of your company.

For instance, most businesses aim to safeguard their name and logo from unauthorized replication and usage by others. Depending on whether your business involves selling goods or offering services, you may also want to protect the design of your products or the creative works (such as writing, designs, or music) that you produce.

Maine offers various avenues for protecting your IP, and it’s advisable to initiate the necessary applications promptly to prevent unauthorized use of your intellectual property.

File a Trademark with Bizee

Trademark

In Maine, a trademark is a recognizable symbol, phrase, word, or design that distinguishes a product or service from similar offerings in the market.

To obtain legal protection, trademarks must be registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The registration process typically takes four to six months. Once registered, the trademark is safeguarded nationwide, and legal action can be taken against any unauthorized use.

Businesses in Maine can protect their trademarks by registering them with the USPTO. This not only safeguards their brand and reputation but also provides legal recourse against unauthorized use of the trademark.

In Maine, original works of authorship, such as literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works, are protected by copyright law. This includes written content, software, web content, films, sound recordings, images, and other forms of creative expression.

When you create a new work in Maine, copyright protection is automatically granted to you as the creator. As the owner of exclusive rights to distribute, reproduce, create derivative works, and sell intellectual property, you have the legal authority to control the use of your work.

However, registering your copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office can provide additional legal protection and serve as evidence of ownership. Registering your copyright in Maine helps protect your work against infringement and provides a means to enforce your rights in court, if necessary.

Patent

If you invent a new product or piece of machinery in Maine, obtaining a patent is crucial. A patent grants the holder exclusive rights over the item, preventing others from making, selling, or importing the patented invention for a specified period.

The patent process is complex and can take up to five years to complete. Therefore, it’s advisable to initiate the process early if you have a unique invention that requires protection. Patent applications are submitted to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

By protecting your intellectual property in Maine, you can safeguard your brand, products, and creations, ensuring that your business maintains a competitive edge and continues to thrive.

File a Trademark with Bizee

Step 7: Set Up Your Payment Infrastructure in Maine

To ensure the prompt commencement of your registered business operations in Maine, it’s crucial to establish a streamlined and hassle-free payment infrastructure that allows you to accept payments with ease.

There are several payment processing services available, offering intuitive interfaces and seamless integration options for your website or point-of-sale (POS) system. Prominent choices include Square, Stripe, and PayPal, all of which provide flexibility and straightforward setup, enabling you to customize them to align with your unique business goals.

These payment processors enable you to accept various payment methods, including credit and debit cards, ACH transfers, digital wallets like Apple Pay and Google Pay, and more. By selecting a dependable payment processing service, you can offer your customers the convenience of paying through their preferred methods via a secure platform, ensuring a smooth and secure transaction experience for both you and your valued clients.

Additionally, establishing sales tax compliance in Maine is essential. This involves obtaining a Maine Sales and Use Tax Registration from the Maine Revenue Services, granting you the authority to collect sales tax on taxable goods and services.

With a well-established payment infrastructure in place, your Maine-based business will be fully equipped to serve customers efficiently and generate revenue while adhering to legal obligations.

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Top 5 Business Registration Services for Maine Entrepreneurs

When it comes to registering a business in Maine, numerous reputable business registration services are available to aid entrepreneurs and small business owners. These services offer a wide range of solutions to facilitate business establishment and ensure compliance with state and federal regulations. 

Below are some of the finest business registration services tailored to Maine entrepreneurs:

ZenBusiness

Zenbusiness logo

ZenBusiness is an online business registration service specializing in business formation, registered agent services, annual report filing, and more. They provide affordable pricing and comprehensive packages that include personalized support and resources, assisting businesses in maintaining compliance and fostering growth. 

ZenBusiness features a user-friendly website and streamlines the registration process, simplifying business registration in Maine.

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Swyft Filings

Swyft Filings logo

Swyft Filings is a prominent business registration service that offers swift and convenient business formation, including LLC formation, incorporation, and compliance. They provide personalized support and resources to guide businesses through the formation process and ensure compliance with state and federal regulations. 

Swyft Filings boasts a user-friendly website and offers affordable pricing, making the registration process effortless for Maine entrepreneurs.

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Tailor Brands

Tailor Brands is an online branding and design service that helps businesses create a professional and cohesive brand identity. They offer diverse branding packages encompassing logo design, business card design, and social media branding. 

Additionally, Tailor Brands provides an assortment of design tools and resources, empowering businesses to create and customize their own branded assets. While not a conventional business registration service, Tailor Brands assists businesses in establishing a professional brand image to effectively attract customers.

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Northwest Registered Agent

Northwest Registered Agent is an online LLC formation service specializing in registered agent services, compliance management, and document filing. Renowned for their quality and exceptional customer service, they offer personalized support to help businesses maintain compliance with state and federal regulations. Northwest Registered Agent provides a range of business formation services for LLCs, corporations, and nonprofits.

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Bizee (Previously Incfile)

Bizee is an online business registration service that provides fast and affordable business formation services. They offer a variety of packages encompassing registered agent services, compliance management, and document filing. bizee user-friendly and streamlined platform ensures an easy and hassle-free business registration process. Moreover, they offer ongoing support and resources to assist businesses in staying compliant and promoting growth.

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Each of these business registration services offers distinct features and advantages tailored to Maine entrepreneurs. By conducting thorough research and comparing these services, entrepreneurs can identify the most suitable one to meet their specific needs, facilitating an efficient and seamless registration process.

Business Registration Laws in Maine

In Maine, business registration is governed by the Maine Department of the Secretary of State. If you plan to start a business in Maine, you will need to comply with specific registration requirements. Here is an overview of the key information regarding business registration laws in Maine:

  • Business Entity Types: Maine allows several types of business entities, including sole proprietorships, partnerships, Limited Liability Companies (LLCs), and corporations.
  • Choosing a Business Name: When selecting a name for your business, you must ensure that it’s unique and distinguishable from the words of other registered entities in Maine. You can search for name availability on the Secretary of State’s website.
  • Registering a Business Name: If you want to operate your business under a name different from your own legal name (for sole proprietorships) or the names of the owners (for partnerships), you will need to register a fictitious name, also known as a Doing Business As (DBA) name.
  • Registering a Corporation or LLC: To register a corporation or LLC in Maine, you must file formation documents with the Secretary of State. For corporations, you will need to file Articles of Incorporation, while for LLCs, you will file a Certificate of Formation. These documents typically include information about the business name, registered agent, purpose, and other required details.
  • Registered Agent: All business entities in Maine must have a registered agent who maintains a physical address in the state. The registered agent is responsible for receiving legal documents and official correspondence on behalf of the business.
  • Business Licenses and Permits: Depending on the nature of your business, you may need to obtain specific licenses and permits at the local, state, or federal levels. The requirements vary based on the industry, location, and activities of your business. You can consult the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development or the Business Answers Program for guidance on the licenses and permits relevant to your business.
  • Employer Identification Number (EIN): If your business has employees or operates as a corporation or partnership, you will need to obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). This unique identifier is used for tax purposes.
  • Tax Obligations: Maine businesses are generally subject to state taxes, including income tax, sales tax, and potentially other taxes depending on the nature of the business. It’s essential to understand and comply with the tax obligations relevant to your business. You can consult the Maine Revenue Services for more information.

It’s advisable to consult with an attorney or a qualified professional familiar with Maine’s business laws to ensure compliance with all registration requirements and legal obligations specific to your business.

Alternative Business Registration Methods in Maine

In Maine, the primary method of business registration is through the Secretary of State’s office. However, there are alternative business registration methods available as well. Here are a few options:

Online Registration

The Maine Secretary of State’s office provides an online portal called “Maine QuickStart” that allows businesses to register online. This platform enables you to complete and submit your registration forms electronically, making the process more convenient and efficient. You can access Maine QuickStart through the Secretary of State’s website.

Professional Assistance

Seeking the help of an attorney or a business formation service can be an alternative method for business registration in Maine. These professionals are well-versed in the registration requirements and can help you navigate the process, ensuring that all necessary documents and filings are completed accurately.

SCORE and Small Business Development Centers (SBDC)

SCORE and SBDC are organizations that offer free or low-cost resources and assistance to entrepreneurs and small business owners. They guide various aspects of starting and running a business, including business registration. SCORE has volunteer mentors who can help you with the registration process and provide valuable insights.

Local Chamber of Commerce

The local Chamber of Commerce in your area may offer resources and support for business registration. They can provide guidance and information on the registration process, as well as other services and networking opportunities that can benefit your business.

Remember, it’s important to ensure compliance with all legal requirements and regulations when registering your business. Research the specific requirements for your business type and consult with professionals or official government sources for accurate information.

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Benefits of Registering Your Business in Maine

Registering your business in Maine offers several benefits that can contribute to its growth and success. Here are some advantages of registering your business in Maine:

  • Legal Protection: Registering your business as a legal entity, such as a corporation or Limited Liability Company (LLC), provides personal liability protection. This means your personal assets are separate from your business liabilities, protecting you from being personally responsible for business debts and legal issues.
  • Credibility: Registering your business lends credibility to your operations. Customers, suppliers, and partners often prefer to engage with registered businesses as they perceive them as more reliable and professional.
  • Access to Funding and Financing: Registered businesses in Maine may have better access to funding and financing options. Banks, investors, and other financial institutions are more likely to provide loans or investments to registered businesses that comply with state regulations and have a formal legal structure.
  • Tax Advantages: By registering your business, you can take advantage of various tax benefits and incentives offered by the state of Maine. These may include deductions, credits, and exemptions that can help reduce your overall tax burden.
  • Government Contracts and Opportunities: Registered businesses are eligible to participate in government contracts and bidding processes. The state of Maine and other governmental agencies often prefer to work with registered businesses, which can open doors to new opportunities and contracts.
  • Brand Protection: Registering your business name or trademark in Maine protects your brand and prevents others from using similar names or marks in the state. It provides legal recourse if someone infringes upon your intellectual property rights.
  • Employee Recruitment and Retention: Registering your business can enhance your ability to attract and retain employees. It demonstrates stability, professionalism, and a commitment to legal compliance, which can be appealing to prospective employees.
  • Access to Business Resources and Support: By registering your business in Maine, you gain access to various business resources, support networks, and programs offered by the state and local authorities. These resources can provide valuable guidance, mentoring, and assistance in areas such as business planning, marketing, and regulatory compliance.

It’s important to note that the specific benefits and requirements of registering a business may vary depending on the legal structure you choose and the nature of your business. Consulting with a qualified attorney or business advisor can provide you with personalized guidance based on your specific circumstances.

Do Businesses in Maine Have Registration Requirements? Uncover the Details Here

Certainly, most businesses in Maine are required to register with the state. The exact registration criteria vary depending on the type of business entity, the nature of the business operations, and other pertinent factors. Examples of typical registrations include obtaining a Maine Sales and Use Tax Permit, registering a Maine Limited Liability Company (LLC) or Corporation, and acquiring professional licenses or permits applicable to certain industries. 

It’s crucial to thoroughly investigate the specific requirements for your business and adhere to all registration obligations to prevent potential legal and financial consequences.

How to Register Your Business in Maine – Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Involved in Registering a Business in Maine?

To register a business in Maine, what are the necessary procedures and paperwork that must be completed with the Maine Secretary of State? The specific requirements will differ based on the type of business, but typically, you will need to file a Certificate of Formation, select a registered agent, and secure any relevant licenses or permits.

What Is the Registration Cost for Starting a Company in Maine?

The cost of registering a company in Maine is determined by the legal structure of your business and the type of filing you’re undertaking. For a Maine LLC, the filing fee for a Certificate of Formation is $175. Other filings and permits related to your business operations may incur additional charges.

Are Non-residents Allowed to Initiate a Business in Maine?

Non-residents have the opportunity to initiate businesses in Maine, given they satisfy the essential legal criteria. Non-resident business owners may need to secure appropriate visas or work permits, and they might also be required to register their businesses with additional state and federal authorities.

Should I Register My Online Business in Maine?

For individuals operating an online business in Maine, the necessity of registering your business with the state depends on the type of business you conduct and the specific online activities involved. Sole proprietorships and partnerships may not have a mandatory registration requirement, whereas corporations and LLCs are likely to need registration.

Additionally, it may be necessary to obtain particular permits and licenses, such as a sales tax permit from the Maine Revenue Services.

To ensure compliance with the comprehensive laws and regulations governing businesses in Maine, it’s advisable to consult a qualified attorney or accountant. Their expertise will prove invaluable in navigating the legal complexities and ensuring adherence to all applicable laws and regulations.

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Bottom Line on How to Register Your Business in Maine


Enrolling your business in Maine is a pivotal measure to ensure compliance with state laws and regulations. Despite its initial challenges, adhering to the requisite steps and fulfilling the specified criteria can establish a robust foundation for your venture.

Deliberating on a business name and legal structure that aligns with the Maine Secretary of State’s requirements, completing the necessary paperwork, and obtaining any essential licenses and permits pertinent to your industry and location are essential steps. Utilizing a business registration platform like ZenBusiness can streamline the process and ensure adherence to all obligations.

Investing the necessary time and attention to register your business in Maine properly can help you navigate future legal and financial complexities, positioning you for success.

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Read about how to register a business in any US state:

About the author

Dr. Alexander Sterling, Esq, a distinguished legal scholar with a business law degree and a Doctor of Juridical Science, is a leading expert in business registration and diverse business departments. Renowned for his academic excellence and practical insights, Dr. Sterling guides businesses through legal complexities, offering invaluable expertise in compliance, corporate governance, and registration processes.

As an accomplished author, his forthcoming book is anticipated to be a comprehensive guide for navigating the dynamic intersection of law and business, providing clarity and practical wisdom for entrepreneurs and legal professionals alike. With a commitment to legal excellence, Dr. Alexander Sterling, Esq, is a trusted authority dedicated to empowering businesses within the ever-evolving legal landscape.