New Hampshire DBA
How to Get a Trade Name in New Hampshire
A DBA is an alternate name for your business. If you’re conducting business in New Hampshire and you want to use a name that isn't your legal business name, you'll need to register that name as a New Hampshire DBA. All types of businesses, from New Hampshire sole proprietorships to general partnerships, LLCs, and even corporations can use DBAs to conduct business. Referred to as trade names in New Hampshire, DBAs can be used to open a business bank account, set up point-of-sale systems, pay vendors, market on social media, or establish a new brand or service. A New Hampshire DBA costs $50 and lasts for five years. Here’s what you need to know.
Your New Hampshire DBA Guide:
What is a New Hampshire DBA?
A New Hampshire DBA (trade name) is another name that your business can use instead of its legal business name. For example, if your business changes direction or adds services, you can use the DBA Granite Construction instead of Granite State Countertops and Cabinets, LLC. Whether you’re a sole proprietor working out of a home office, a growing LLC, or a large corporation, any business can get a DBA. A New Hampshire trade name can be used in much the same way a legal business name can be used, including to:
- Create websites and social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram, etc…)
- Advertise on billboards, print media, radio, television, etc…
- Engage with customers on business cards, company letterhead, hats, coffee mugs, T-shirts, etc…
- Open a business bank account to keep your sales organized and write checks to vendors
- Set up a point-of-sale system
Keep in mind, your DBA is just a nickname for your business and not a business itself. A DBA doesn’t offer any sort of asset protection in the event of a lawsuit or bankruptcy. You’ll file business taxes using your legal business name and existing EIN (or SSN for most sole proprietors).
Is registering a DBA required in New Hampshire?
Yes. State law (NH Rev Stat § 349:1) states that if a business is going to use a business name in place of their legal business name, they need to register it as a trade name with the state.
Why Register a New Hampshire DBA?
Here are a few of the reasons that business owners choose to use DBAs:
You’re a New Hampshire Sole Proprietor
As a sole proprietor, there’s no legal distinction between you and your business. The legal name of your business is your full name (ex: John Dobry). If you want to operate using a more professional or descriptive name, you’ll need to get a DBA.
You Want a Different Name for Your Business
All types of businesses can use DBAs to get an alternate business name. If an LLC or corporation has a legal business name that no longer describes the services or products it offers, a DBA allows the company to get a new name without having to register a brand new business or file state paperwork to amend the business name. If “Big Joe’s Breakfast Nook” expands their hours to add lunch and dinner options to the menu, a DBA like “Big Joe’s Diner” could make the transition easier.
You Use Your Domain Name as Your Business Name
In most cases a business domain name is just an address for customers to find a business online. However, if you use your domain name as a business name for things like advertising, social media marketing, and accepting customer payments, you’ll need to get a DBA.
Will a DBA keep my personal information off the public record?
No. New Hampshire’s DBA application requires you to list the name and address of the person or business entity applying. All of that information will go on the state’s public record. In order to live privately as a business owner, your best option is to hire a New Hampshire registered agent and to form a New Hampshire LLC. When you hire Northwest, we’ll list our name and address on the public record instead of yours wherever the state allows. We do this to keep your private information out of the public eye.
How to Register a DBA in New Hampshire
To register a trade name in New Hampshire, you’ll need to file an Application for Registration of Trade Name with New Hampshire’s Department of State. But first, you’ll need to make sure that the trade name you want is available. Here’s how it works.
Before registering your DBA, you’ll need to make sure your name complies with state naming rules. Your DBA can’t:
- Use corporate identifiers like “LLC” or “Inc.,” unless they match your business entity type.
- Be extremely similar to or the same as another business name in New Hampshire.
- Mislead the public by using words like “police,” or “fire department,” or any other terms that make it appear that your business is engaged in a service that it is not.
- Use the phrase “farmer’s market” unless your business meets New Hampshire’s legal definition of a farmer’s market (See RSA 21:34-a).
You’ll need to complete the Application for Registration of Trade Name and include the following information:
- Trade name
- Business address and mailing address (if different)
- Description of business activity (you can also list an NAICS code if you know it)
- For legal business entities (LLCs, corporations, etc), entity name, address, and name and title of person signing
- For individual applicants (sole proprietors and general partnerships), name, address, and signature of each individual
- Business email and phone number
You can file your trade name application online, by mail, or in person.No matter which way you file, the processing fee is $50. If filing online, you’ll need to set up a NH Quickstart account, if you don’t already have one.
NH Dept. of State
107 N Main St, Rm 204
Concord, NH 03301-4989
State House Annex
3rd Floor, Rm 317
25 Capitol St
Concord, NH 03301
How to Renew a DBA in New Hampshire
New Hampshire DBAs (trade names) last five years, at which time they’ll need to be renewed. New Hampshire’s Department of State will mail you notice six months before your DBA’s expiration date. You can return that notice, along with a payment of $50, to renew your DBA. You can also renew online through NH QuickStart.
Can I update my New Hampshire trade name information?
You can add or delete members from your trade name registration, but you can’t change any other information. This means if you wish to make a change to the name or address of the business, you’ll need to file for a whole new DBA. If you just want to add members to your DBA, file a Certificate of Addition in Members Using Trade Name. To delete members, you’ll file a Certificate of Withdrawal in Members Using a Trade Name. Both filings cost $10, and can be filed online, by mail, or in person.
How do I cancel a New Hampshire trade name?
Canceling a New Hampshire trade name involves filing a Certificate of Discontinuance of Use of Trade Name and paying a $10 fee. You can cancel your DBA online, in person, or by mail.
Registering a DBA vs. Starting a Business in New Hampshire
Registering a DBA is not the same thing as starting a business. A DBA allows a business to market themselves under a different name. That’s it. Starting a business may involve getting a DBA, but it isn’t required. You’ll need a business before you can get a DBA.
There are two ways to start a business in New Hampshire:
1. Sell a product or service: Did your neighbor just pay you $25 to walk their dog? You’re a sole proprietor. Sole proprietors (one owner) and general partnerships (two or more owners) are two of the most popular business types because they are easy to start and require no formation paperwork or filing fees (although depending on the business, you may need state or local licenses). The drawback of course is that without creating a legal business entity, you are your business, which means you’re personally liable for debts or legal suits against your business.
2. Register your business with the state: If you want to create a formal business entity like an LLC or corporation, you’ll need to file formation documents with New Hampshire’s Department of State and pay a filing fee ($100 for both LLCs and corporations). You’ll also need to be aware of New Hampshire annual report filings. Sounds like a lot? Unlike sole proprietors and general partnerships, LLCs and corporations can provide their owners with liability protection in case of a lawsuit.
DBA vs. LLC in New Hampshire
Both LLCs and DBAs are registered with the state,but only one of them gives business owners asset protection in the event of a lawsuit or bankruptcy: an LLC. A DBA is just a name, and not a separate business entity. A New Hampshire LLC is an actual legal business entity, and registering one creates legal separation between the business and the owners of the business. This legal separation is what protects the assets—401k, car, house, savings—of the LLC’s owners (members).
It all comes down to what you’re looking for as a business owner. If you’re a sole proprietor and you only want a different name for your business, a DBA is what you need. But if you want asset protection and a business name, an LLC is the perfect fit. Northwest can help you get one.
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New Hampshire FAQs
How much does it cost to get a DBA in New Hampshire?
How long does it take to get a New Hampshire DBA?
Online and in person filings are processed in about 7-10 business days. Mailed filing can take up to three weeks, plus added postal time.
How long does trade name registration last in New Hampshire?
Your New Hampshire trade name will last for five years.
Do I need a separate bank account for my DBA?
No. Getting a DBA doesn’t create a new business, so you’re not required to get a new bank account. However, you can if you want, and if you’re a sole proprietor, opening a separate bank account under your DBA name is a good way to keep your business finances organized.
Do I need a separate EIN for my DBA?
No. A DBA is just a name used for doing business, not a new entity. But if you have a multi-member LLC, corporation, or any business with employees, you will need to get an EIN from the IRS.
How many DBAs can I have in New Hampshire?
Each DBA will need to go through the same registration process.
Can I sign a business contract with my DBA?
Not by itself. A DBA is just a name and not a legal entity. You’ll need to use the legal name of your business in order to enter into any contract. You’ll also want to be transparent that your business uses a DBA. For example, a sole proprietor using a DBA might sign a contract “Jeff Jones, DBA Radical Upholstery Cleanings.” Likewise, a formal entity like an LLC would have an authorized member or manager sign with their name, followed by the LLC name, and the DBA.
What is my legal business name?
Your business’s legal name is the name that is listed on its government documents (for example, state and tax filings).
- Formal entities like LLCs and corporations list their legal business name on their state formation documents. This includes the entity identifier (“Company Name, LLC,” “Company Name, Inc.,” etc.).
- For sole proprietors, a business’s legal name is its owner’s legal name.
- For general partnerships, a business’s legal name is either the partners’ last names or a name the partnership has given itself in a written partnership agreement.