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Welcome to our guide on how to register a business name in New Hampshire! Whether you’re planning to form an LLC or corporation or opt for a “doing business as” (DBA) name, we’ve got you covered with a step-by-step registration process. New Hampshire, with its business-friendly environment, offers exciting opportunities for entrepreneurs like you. And for a hassle-free experience, consider partnering with ZenBusiness – our trusted expert in business registrations. Let’s make your New Hampshire business dreams a reality together!
4 Steps to Register Your Business Name in New Hampshire
Registering your business name in New Hampshire 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 New Hampshire:
Step 1: Choose Your Business Structure in New Hampshire
If you’re planning to establish a business in New Hampshire, one of the essential steps is registering your business name. To do this effectively, it’s crucial to select the appropriate business structure that aligns with your goals and expansion plans.
In New Hampshire, you have several incorporated and unincorporated business options to choose from. Let’s explore each of these options in detail to help you make an informed decision.
A sole proprietorship is the simplest business structure in New Hampshire, where the owner and the business are treated as the same entity. As the owner, you assume personal liability for the business’s debts and obligations. While registering a sole proprietorship with the state isn’t mandatory in New Hampshire, you may need to obtain local permits or licenses.
In a general partnership, two or more individuals co-own the business, sharing both profits and losses. Each partner holds personal liability for the business’s debts and legal obligations. Although you’re not required to register a general partnership with the state, you may need to file a “New Hampshire Assumed Name Certificate” (DBA) in the county where your business operates.
Limited Partnership (LP)
A limited partnership in New Hampshire consists of one or more general partners with unlimited personal liability and one or more limited partners who contribute capital but have limited liability. To establish an LP, you must file a “Certificate of Limited Partnership” with the New Hampshire Secretary of State.
Limited Liability Company (LLC)
An LLC offers a flexible business structure with liability protection similar to a corporation and the tax benefits and simplicity of a partnership. To set up an LLC in New Hampshire, you need to file a “Certificate of Formation Limited Liability Company” with the New Hampshire Secretary of State and create an Operating Agreement to outline the company’s management and ownership structure.
A corporation is a separate legal entity from its shareholders, providing limited liability protection. In New Hampshire, there are two types of corporations: C-corporations and S-corporations.
To form a corporation, you must file either an “Articles of Incorporation For-Profit Corporation” or an “Articles of Incorporation Nonprofit Corporation” with the New Hampshire Secretary of State, depending on your business’s nature. Corporations involve additional formalities, including establishing bylaws, issuing stocks, and holding regular board and shareholder meetings.
Selecting the most suitable business structure in New Hampshire requires considering factors such as liability protection, taxation, and management requirements. If needed, seek advice from legal or business professionals to make an informed decision that aligns with your business goals. Once you’ve chosen your business structure, you can proceed with the registration process with the New Hampshire Secretary of State.
Step 2: Select a Unique Business Name in New Hampshire
In New Hampshire, choosing the right name for your business involves adhering to specific guidelines and regulations to ensure professionalism, uniqueness, and legal compliance. There are several naming options available, including registering a legal entity name, securing a trademark, or operating under a Doing Business As (DBA) name while maintaining a legal name.
However, it’s important to note that naming rules and regulations can vary from state to state, so it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with the specific requirements in New Hampshire.
To protect your business name and prevent others from using it, you may consider pursuing all three routes. Alternatively, choosing one of the available options can also be a viable approach. While not mandatory, maintaining consistency across all registration methods by utilizing the same business name is generally advisable.
Let’s explore each of the naming options available in New Hampshire in further detail:
Legal Entity Name
In New Hampshire, businesses are required to register a legal entity name, which serves as the official identifier for the company as recognized by the state. The legal entity name must be unique, ensuring that your business name remains distinct and minimizing the possibility of another entity having the same name.
New Hampshire’s naming laws include 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 verify the availability of a name by consulting the database of the New Hampshire Secretary of State.
A trademark provides legal protection for a business name or logo at a national level in New Hampshire. To safeguard your name or logo, it’s crucial to conduct a comprehensive trademark search within the USPTO database to ensure it’s not already registered.
Once the trademark is successfully registered, it grants exclusive rights and prevents others from using an identical or similar name or logo for similar goods or services, offering nationwide protection. However, obtaining a trademark does not automatically grant unrestricted usage of the name or logo in all circumstances.
Doing Business As (DBA)
In New Hampshire, you also have the option of registering your business under an “official” name and operating under a different name, known as a Doing Business As (DBA) name. To establish a DBA, you need to file a Fictitious Name Registration with the Secretary of State’s office. 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 carefully considering these naming options, you can effectively register your business name in New Hampshire, ensuring legal compliance and safeguarding your brand identity. Remember to research the specific requirements and guidelines in the state to make the best decision for your business.
Step 3: Check Business Name Availability in New Hampshire
Before officially registering your business, it’s crucial to ensure that the desired name is available and not already in use. To accomplish this, conduct three essential types of searches:
To begin, perform a federal trademark search to check if the New Hampshire business name you want is already trademarked. Federal trademarks take precedence over state-level registrations, so it’s essential to confirm that your preferred name isn’t already protected. In case it’s trademarked, you’ll need to come up with an alternative business name.
To conduct the federal trademark search, visit the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) website and utilize their TESS Search tool.
New Hampshire Business Name Search
After confirming that your name isn’t trademarked, move on to verify its availability for use specifically within New Hampshire. Utilize the New Hampshire QuickStart Business Search tool to search for registered business names in the state.
In this search, make sure not only your exact business name is available but also check for any significantly similar business names that might cause confusion.
Website Domain Search
Once you’ve ensured that your business name is free from trademark restrictions and available in New Hampshire, it’s also recommended to check the availability of the .com domain version of your chosen name. Though not every business may require a website, securing the .com domain early on is a good practice.
By registering the .com version of your business name with ZenBusiness, you secure exclusive rights to the website name, safeguarding it from potential use by others.
By completing these three searches, you can confidently proceed with registering your business with a name that’s both unique and legally available for use.
Step 4: Form Your Business With the State of New Hampshire
After finalizing your business structure and name, the next step is to formally establish your business with the State of New Hampshire. Here’s how to do it:
- Registering a New Hampshire LLC
To create your New Hampshire LLC, you must file the Articles of Organization with the New Hampshire Department of State. You can complete this process either online or through the mail.
- Registering a New Hampshire Corporation
If you’re forming a corporation, you need to file the Articles of Incorporation with the New Hampshire Department of State.
You May Also Want to Know
Protect Your Business Name With a Trademark
Once you’ve verified that your business name is available and secured it, you may consider applying for a trademark. Although this option isn’t mandatory, obtaining a trademark can provide nationwide protection under federal law.
It ensures that your brand is safeguarded against others using a similar name for their businesses. While this comes with a cost, ranging from $225 to $400, plus attorney fees, and requires a renewal every 10 years, it’s more relevant for businesses planning to operate on a national scale.
How to File a New Hampshire Fictitious Name – DBA?
To file a New Hampshire Fictitious Name (Doing Business As or DBA), follow these steps:
- Choose a Fictitious Name: Decide on the name you want to use for your business. Make sure it’s not already in use by another entity in New Hampshire
- Conduct a Name Search: Verify the availability of your chosen name by searching the New Hampshire Secretary of State’s business name database
- Download the Registration Form: Visit the New Hampshire Secretary of State’s website to download the “Trade Name Registration” form
- Complete the Form: Fill out the form with accurate information, including your chosen fictitious name, your business address, and the nature of your business
- Notarize the Form: The form must be notarized before submission. Locate a notary public to witness your signature
- Submit the Form: Mail the completed and notarized form to the New Hampshire Secretary of State, Corporation Division. Include the filing fee (typically around $50) in the form of a check or money order payable to the “State of New Hampshire”
- Renewal: Fictitious names in New Hampshire are valid for five years. Make sure to renew the registration before it expires to keep using the DBA name
Remember, registering a fictitious name allows you to operate your business under a different name without changing its legal name. This is particularly useful for sole proprietorships, general partnerships, and entities that wish to operate under a unique brand name.
How to Change the Name of a New Hampshire Business?
Should you need to change your business name in New Hampshire, you have two methods to do so:
- Filing for a Trade Name (DBA Name)
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 a trade name. Moreover, LLCs and corporations can benefit from this approach, as it allows them to use brand names without the required LLC or Inc. suffix found in legal names.
- Submitting an Amendment to the Legal Name
If you wish to officially change the legal name of your LLC or corporation, you must file an amendment. This process requires submitting either a Certificate of Amendment for LLCs or Articles of Amendment for corporations to the New Hampshire Department of State’s Corporation Division, along with a $35 filing fee.
Remember, for most small businesses, obtaining a trademark might not be essential unless they have plans to operate on a national level. Choose the method that aligns with your business goals and needs when changing or registering your business name in New Hampshire.
Business Name Registration Laws in New Hampshire
In New Hampshire, businesses are required to register their business name under certain laws. Here are some key points to consider:
- Doing Business As (DBA) Name: If you operate a sole proprietorship or a general partnership and want to use a business name other than your legal name, you will need to file a “Trade Name” or “Doing Business As” (DBA) registration with the Secretary of State.
- Limited Liability Company (LLC) and Corporation Names: When forming an LLC or corporation in New Hampshire, you will need to ensure that your chosen business name is available and complies with the state’s naming rules. The Secretary of State’s office typically checks the name availability during the business formation process.
- Name Availability and Restrictions: Your business name must be unique and not already in use by another registered business entity in New Hampshire. The name should also avoid prohibited words or phrases and meet certain naming requirements set by the state.
- Registration Process: To register a DBA or trade name, you would need to submit the appropriate form to the New Hampshire Secretary of State’s office, along with the required filing fee. For LLCs and corporations, name registration is typically done during the business formation process.
- Renewal and Maintenance: DBA registrations might need to be renewed periodically, depending on the local requirements. For LLCs and corporations, once the name is registered during the formation process, there’s no specific renewal requirement, but you need to maintain your business entity in good standing by fulfilling annual filing and compliance obligations.
- Business Structure and Legal Considerations: The type of business structure you choose (e.g., sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, corporation) affects the registration process and legal requirements. It’s essential to understand the legal implications of each structure before making a decision.
To get precise and up-to-date information on business name registration laws in New Hampshire, you should consult the New Hampshire Secretary of State’s website or seek advice from a qualified attorney or business consultant familiar with state-specific regulations.
Bottom Line on How to Register a Business Name in New Hampshire
In conclusion, registering a business name in New Hampshire sets the stage for an exciting venture in this picturesque state. By carefully choosing a distinctive business structure and name, completing the necessary registrations with the Secretary of State’s office, and considering trademark protection if applicable, you lay a solid groundwork for success.
Leveraging LLC services like ZenBusiness can offer valuable expertise and support throughout the registration process, making your journey in New Hampshire’s business landscape even more promising. With determination and enthusiasm, you’re poised to make a significant impact on the local economy and create a lasting presence in the Granite State.
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