If you run a business under an assumed name in New Hampshire, you may want to set up a DBA. Short for “Doing Business As,” a DBA serves as an alternate title for your business. Often, a DBA is the name customers will use to refer to your company. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about DBAs: who needs one, who doesn’t, and two easy steps to filing with the state.
In New Hampshire, the DBA is actually called a “Trade Name.” Essentially, they’re the same concept. “Trade Name” is just the terminology used by the state. For consistency, we’ll call it a Trade Name throughout the rest of this guide.
NOTE: Keep in mind that filing a trade name will not give your business protection through the corporate veil like an LLC will. If this is something you want or need, don’t fret, there are many business formation services that can help you take care of the paperwork.
Do You Need a New Hampshire Trade Name?
Not all business entities in New Hampshire need a Trade Name. Ordinarily, a business needs a Trade Name when the name of their business differs from the name registered with the state.
So let’s say that Lauren operates a sole proprietorship; her legal business formation documents list her full name as the legal owner of the business. But if she wants to run her shop under the name Sew Sweet Creations, she’d need to file a Trade Name in order to use that name. A Trade Name is also useful for corporations which want to establish additional businesses or locations with a name that’s different from the Corporation name.
Limited liability companies, nonprofit corporations, and corporations operating exclusively under the name on file with the state usually do not need a Trade Name. They may choose to use one if they want to establish a new product line or chain of businesses under their original parent company.
A New Hampshire Trade Name does present a few advantages. While it doesn’t offer any specific legal protections or tax incentives, a Trade Name allows you to get a business bank account. You can also give your customers peace of mind—most people are more comfortable writing a check to a business than an individual.
In New Hampshire, even if your Trade Name includes your legal name but adds on a word, you need to register it. For example, New Hampshire says that John D. Smith would be fine operating under “John D. Smith.” But he would need to register if he operated under the name “John D. Smith Enterprises” instead. All entities can file with the Secretary of State.
1) File Your Trade Name with the New Hampshire Secretary of State
New Hampshire businesses can apply for their Trade Name with the Secretary of State. However, before you register, you’ll need to do some research to ensure that your name is available in the state. New Hampshire requires that all entity names be distinguishable on the record.
To check if your name is available, you’ll want to search your desired business name at NH QuickStart. If there is an exact match to your desired Trade Name, you’ll need to make some changes to make it different. If no matches appear, it’s likely that your name is not in use.
Once you’ve determined that your name is available, you can complete your application to register your Trade Name (the form is listed to download on this page). You can download the form online, but you’ll need to file by mail. The form includes some information about your business, including contact information of the person filing, the address of your business, and, of course, your Trade Name.
New Hampshire charges a fee of $50 for this registration. You can pay by check made payable to the State of New Hampshire.
2) Maintaining your New Hampshire Trade Name
In New Hampshire, your initial Trade Name registration is good for five years. If you want to continue using your name, you’ll need to submit a renewal. This will help keep the state and potential customers aware of who’s doing business in the state.
Similarly, if you need to make a change to your Trade Name, you’ll need to file that with the state, too. The same applies if you want to cancel your Trade Name. You can find all the appropriate forms you need (plus additional guidelines) with the Secretary of State.
Need Help Filing your Trade Name?
If this process sounds like a hassle, you can get help with setting up your business’s name with a service like Legalzoom. They make the process simple: you simply provide them with the necessary information about your company, and they’ll fill out the paperwork so you don’t have to. The process is both easy and affordable, letting you focus on running your business.
Your name is an important part of your business, but keeping compliant with state requirements can be tricky! We hope this guide made it quick and easy to set up your New Hampshire trade name.