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How to Register a Business Name in Massachusetts in 2023

    How to Register a Business Name in Massachusetts
    (Last Updated On: September 18, 2023)

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    Get ready to embark on your entrepreneurial journey in Massachusetts! If you’re wondering how to register a business name in Massachusetts, you’ve come to the right place. Whether you’re opting for a sole proprietorship, LLC, or corporation, we’ve got you covered with a step-by-step guide to ensure a smooth and compliant registration process. 

    Looking for expert support? Consider partnering with ZenBusiness for a seamless experience that allows you to focus on what truly matters – turning your business dreams into reality in the Bay State!

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    4 Steps to Register Your Business Name in Massachusetts

    Registering your business name in Massachusetts is a crucial step toward establishing your entrepreneurial presence in the state. To help you through this process, here are four simple steps to get your business name officially registered in Massachusetts:

    Step 1: Choose Your Business Structure in Massachusetts

    Before you proceed with the registration process, you must decide on the appropriate business structure for your Massachusetts-based enterprise. The choice of business structure will depend on various factors, including the nature of your business and your expansion plans. Here are the different business structures and their associated requirements:

    Sole Proprietorship

    A sole proprietorship is the simplest business structure where the owner and the business are considered the same legal entity. It’s relatively easy to establish, and the owner assumes full personal responsibility for the business’s debts and liabilities. In Massachusetts, there is no need to register a sole proprietorship with the state, but you might have to obtain local permits or licenses.

    General Partnership

    A general partnership involves two or more individuals who share profits and losses. Each partner is personally liable for the business’s debts and obligations. While registration with the state isn’t mandatory, you may need to file a “Massachusetts Business Certificate” (Doing Business As – DBA) in the city or town where your business is located.

    Limited Partnership (LP)

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

    Limited Liability Company (LLC)

    An LLC provides the limited liability protection of a corporation while maintaining the tax benefits and simplicity of a partnership. To form an LLC in Massachusetts, you need to file a “Certificate of Organization” with the Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth and create an Operating Agreement that outlines the company’s management and ownership structure.


    A corporation is a separate legal entity from its owners (shareholders) and offers limited liability protection. In Massachusetts, there are two types of corporations: C-corporations and S-corporations. 

    To establish a corporation, you must file “Articles of Organization” with the Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth. Corporations involve more formalities, such as creating bylaws, issuing stock, and conducting regular board and shareholder meetings.

    Registering a business name in Massachusetts involves determining the selection of the right business structure and fulfilling specific registration requirements based on your chosen entity. Each business structure comes with its advantages and legal responsibilities. 

    Take the time to carefully evaluate your business needs and consult professionals if needed. With the right approach, you can successfully establish your business and pave the way for a thriving future in the Massachusetts market.

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    Step 2: Select a Unique Business Name in Massachusetts

    In Massachusetts, there are three key strategies for defining your business’s title. Each approach serves different purposes and offers varying levels of protection. Let’s delve into each naming procedure to help you make an informed decision:

    The state of Massachusetts mandates that all businesses register a legal entity name for identification purposes. It’s essential to ensure that your chosen entity name is unique to avoid potential conflicts with other businesses. Massachusetts’ naming regulations also require incorporating the appropriate company suffix (e.g., LLC, LP, Corp) that accurately represents the business type being registered.

    To verify the availability of your desired business name, you can perform a search in the Massachusetts Secretary of The Commonwealth’s Corporate database. By securing a unique entity name, you protect your business identity and distinguish it from others in the market.


    Obtaining a trademark provides nationwide protection for your business name or logo as an intellectual property right. Conducting a trademark search in the USPTO database is critical to ensure that your desired name or logo isn’t already in use by another entity.

    Registering a trademark prevents other businesses from using a similar name or logo for comparable goods or services. This safeguard helps establish your brand identity and strengthens your position in the market.

    Doing Business As (DBA)

    In Massachusetts, businesses have the option to register under an official name and operate under a different name, known as a Doing Business As (DBA) name. Filing a Business Certificate (DBA) with the city or town clerk where your business is located allows you to use a DBA name. Unlike entity names, DBAs are not required to be unique within the state.

    DBAs are governed by federal trademark laws, and registering a DBA name can be beneficial if you wish to conduct business under a more recognizable or marketable name while still maintaining your legal entity name.

    Selecting a unique business name is a critical aspect of starting and growing your enterprise in Massachusetts. By understanding and evaluating the above-mentioned three naming strategies, you can effectively secure your business name and protect your brand identity. 

    Remember to comply with Massachusetts-specific naming requirements and conduct thorough searches to ensure the uniqueness of your chosen name. With a distinctive and protected business name, you’ll be well-positioned for success in the competitive Massachusetts market.

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    Step 3: Check Business Name Availability in Massachusetts

    Before registering your business, it’s essential to check whether the desired name is available for use. In Massachusetts, there are three types of searches to conduct to ensure the name’s availability:

    Begin by conducting a federal trademark search to determine if the Massachusetts business name you have in mind is already trademarked. Federal trademarks take precedence over state-level registrations, so it’s crucial to avoid any potential conflicts. You can perform this search on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) website using the TESS Search feature. If your preferred business name is already trademarked, you will need to choose an alternative name.

    After confirming that your name isn’t trademarked, it’s time to verify its availability at the state level in Massachusetts. Use the Massachusetts Business Entity Search tool to check for any existing registered business names. During your search, ensure that not only your exact business name but also similar names are not already in use by other businesses.

    Once you have determined that your business name is both available federally and in Massachusetts, consider conducting a website domain search. Check if the .com version of your business name is available. While not every business may require a website, it’s advisable to secure the .com domain if possible.

    By registering the .com version of your business name through ZenBusiness, you can secure exclusive rights to the website name, preventing others from using it. With ZenBusiness, you can easily and affordably protect your business name online.

    By performing these comprehensive searches, you can ensure that your chosen business name is unique and available for registration, helping you avoid potential legal issues and confusion in the future.

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    Step 4: Form Your Business With the State of Massachusetts

    After finalizing your chosen business structure and name, the next step is to officially establish your business with the State of Massachusetts. This involves filing the necessary documents to complete the registration process.

    For Massachusetts LLCs, you’ll need to submit the Certificate of Organization to the Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth. This can be done either online or through mail. On the other hand, if you’re setting up a Massachusetts corporation, you must file the Articles of Organization with the Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth.

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    You May Also Want to Know

    Protect Your Business Name With a Trademark

    Once you’ve confirmed the availability of your business name and secured it, you have the option to apply for a trademark to safeguard your brand. The cost of this process typically ranges from $225 to $400, and there may be additional attorney fees involved, along with a renewal fee every 10 years.

    Though trademark protection grants nationwide coverage and legal backing under federal law, it may not be essential for most small businesses unless they plan to operate on a national scale.

    How to File a Massachusetts Fictitious Name – DBA?

    To file a Massachusetts Fictitious Name, also known as “Doing Business As” (DBA), follow these steps:

    1. Choose a Name: Select a fictitious name for your business that isn’t already in use by another entity in Massachusetts
    1. Conduct a Name Search: Check the Massachusetts business name database to ensure your chosen name is available for use
    1. Complete the Form: Obtain the “Business Certificate” form from your local city or town clerk’s office or download it from the Massachusetts state website
    1. Provide Information: Fill out the form with the required information, including your chosen fictitious name, your business address, and the names and addresses of all business owners/partners
    1. Notarize the Form: Sign the form in the presence of a notary public
    1. File the Form: Submit the completed and notarized form along with the filing fee to the city or town clerk’s office where your business is located
    1. Display Your Certificate: Once approved, you will receive a “Business Certificate” that proves you’re operating under the DBA name. Display this certificate at your business location

    Filing requirements and fees may vary depending on your location in Massachusetts, so it’s best to check with your local city or town clerk’s office for specific guidelines.

    How to Change the Name of a Massachusetts Business?

    If you ever need to change the name of your business in Massachusetts, you have two methods to choose from:

    1. Business Certificate Name (DBA): This is the simplest way to operate your business under a different name without altering its legal name. Sole proprietorships and general partnerships can use this method, and it also benefits LLCs and corporations by allowing them to operate with brand names that don’t include the necessary suffixes, like LLC or Inc., in their legal names.
    1. Amendment to the Legal Name: If you want to officially change the legal name of your LLC or corporation, filing an amendment is the appropriate route. This process involves submitting the necessary forms, such as the Articles of Amendment for LLCs and Corporations, to the Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth. Both options require a filing fee of $100 and can be submitted online only.

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    Business Name Registration Laws in Massachusetts

    Here are some key points regarding business name registration laws in Massachusetts:

    • Business Entity Types: Massachusetts allows several types of business entities, including sole proprietorships, partnerships, corporations, and Limited Liability Companies (LLCs). Each entity type may have different requirements and procedures for business name registration.
    • Business Name Availability: Before registering a business name in Massachusetts, it’s essential to ensure that the name is available and not already in use by another entity. You can search for existing business names on the Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth’s website.
    • Trade Name Registration: If a business operates under a name that differs from the legal name of the owner(s) or entity, it may need to register a trade name, also known as a “doing business as” (DBA) name. This registration allows the business to legally use the trade name for its operations.
    • Registration Process: The registration process may vary depending on the business entity type and the county where the business is located. In general, registration is typically done with the appropriate county clerk’s office or through the Secretary of the Commonwealth.
    • Online Filing: Massachusetts provides online filing options for business name registrations, making the process more accessible and convenient.
    • Name Restrictions: Massachusetts law prohibits businesses from adopting names that could be misleading to the public or that imply government affiliation without authorization.

    To ensure compliance with all relevant laws and regulations, it’s advisable to seek legal advice or guidance from the appropriate government authorities when registering a business name in Massachusetts. The official website of the Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth is a reliable resource for up-to-date information on business name registration laws and procedures.

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    Bottom Line on How to Register a Business Name in Massachusetts

    Registering a business name in Massachusetts is a crucial step for any aspiring entrepreneur looking to establish a strong presence in the state. Conducting thorough name research to ensure uniqueness, choosing the appropriate registration method, and fulfilling all necessary paperwork with the Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth will lay the groundwork for your business’s success. 

    Considering the support of services like ZenBusiness can make the process even smoother by providing expert guidance and assistance. With your business name officially registered, you’ll be well-prepared to embark on a prosperous journey in the dynamic and vibrant business landscape of Massachusetts.

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