No matter which structure you select, you might also determine that your venture will benefit from using a “doing business as” (DBA) name. Although not a legal entity, many business owners find that it’s a useful marketing tool for certain endeavors.
Read on to learn everything you need to know about establishing a DBA name in New Hampshire. This guide will assist business owners as they determine whether adopting a DBA name makes sense for them. We’ll walk you through the process of registering a DBA name, the benefits that come with it, and how to maintain it.
What is a New Hampshire “doing business as” (DBA) name?
A DBA name isn’t a requirement of doing business, but many entrepreneurs and business owners find that it benefits their companies. Although it doesn’t create a separate legal entity from your existing business, it allows you to establish a strong identity for specific product lines or separate but related initiatives.
There are several scenarios where a DBA name makes sense. For instance, maybe you’re operating as a sole proprietor, and you want to distance your professional reputation from your personal name. Or, if you run a corporate company, perhaps you’re launching a new product that deserves its own branding and marketing.
Each state regulates DBA names in its own way. New Hampshire has established its own legal requirements, restrictions, and processes for registering and maintaining these names. To set up your DBA name, you’ll register it through the New Hampshire Secretary of State. It is legally required to register a DBA name if you plan to do business with it in the state of New Hampshire.
As a reminder, you’re not creating a new legal entity with a DBA name. Therefore, you won’t be taxed separately under the name. You also won’t have any liability protection by using it. It’s simply another name for yourself or your company to conduct business and more about marketing and identity than anything else.
Also, DBA names are sometimes referred to differently, depending on the state. So, don’t be confused if you see it referenced as a “fictitious name,” “assumed name,” or “trade name.” In New Hampshire, “trade names” are the equivalent of DBA names. When you register a pseudonym for your company, it will be referred to as a trade name throughout the process.
When seeking a trade name, the types of businesses fall into two categories:
- Sole proprietorships and partnerships: These types of companies tend to use trade names to separate their businesses from their personal names and reputations.
- Corporations and LLCs: Often, these business entities opt for a DBA name to simplify their formal names. When they form, their names must include signifiers, such as “Corporation,” “Company,” “Limited,” or “Incorporated,” or an abbreviation of these words. Using a trade name, they can drop these signifiers and condense their name for branding and recognition purposes.
Depending on your business’s needs, there are numerous benefits of registering a trade name in New Hampshire. These benefits include:
- Launching a new product or service. If your company plans to introduce a new product line or service, you might decide that it would benefit from its own identity and branding. By adopting a trade name, you can promote this new endeavor under its own name. And though you’re marketing all of your company’s offering separately, they are still owned by the same business.
- Creating a professional look. If you’re a sole proprietor or are involved in a partnership, adopting a trade name lets you operate your company under a name other than your own. This will establish a more professional appearance when working with clients, vendors, and employees.
- Streamlining your name. When you first launch your company in New Hampshire, you’re required to include appropriate signifiers. This can lead to bulky, uninteresting formal names that don’t lend themselves well to marketing and promotions. You can use a DBA name to drop those signifiers, allowing you to simplify your business name and promote your brand more effectively.
- Establishing separate business operations. When you register a trade name, this allows you to conduct business transactions under this name. Having the documentation allows you to open bank accounts or sign contracts using this name rather than your formal name.
- Declaring your identity. By registering a DBA name, you’ll have exclusive rights to the name in New Hampshire. Once it’s on file, no other business will be able to use it. However, they can use a similar name, but it needs to be distinguishable from your brand.
If you think a trade name makes sense for your New Hampshire company, keep reading. We’ll provide a detailed overview of how to register your trade name in the state.
How do I choose a New Hampshire DBA name?
As you choose a trade name in New Hampshire, you’ll want to keep your marketing goals in mind. Since your name is a crucial branding tool, you’ll want to select a DBA name that makes an impact on customers. You’ll want to select a name distinctive from other businesses on the market. You’ll also want this name to be a good representation of what your company does.
When selecting your trade name, consider state regulations. In New Hampshire, your proposed trade name must be distinguishable from other business names, including other trade names. You can access the state’s database of businesses to see if your preferred name is available. This database also includes registered trade names.
New Hampshire also provides naming guidelines for business owners. It’s important to remember that corporate designations, such as “Foundation,” “Corporation” or “Benefit Corporation,” “Professional Corporation,” “Limited Liability Company (LLC),” “Professional LLC,” “Limited Liability Partnership (LLP),” and “Limited Partnership” may not be included in trade names.
How do I register a New Hampshire DBA name?
To register your New Hampshire DBA name, you must file your trade name through the Secretary of State’s office. The state requires that you fill out an “Application for Registration of Trade Name.”
Here are the steps to take when registering your New Hampshire trade name:
- Determine your preferred trade name and check it against the names of other businesses and trade names registered in the state. Your name should be distinguishable from anything else on file. Make sure your name is distinct, so this doesn’t delay your application.
- Go to the section of the Secretary of State website that includes all “Trade Name Forms and Laws.” On this page, you’ll find “Form TN-1 Trade Name Registration.” Click on this form.
- Decide if you will file your application online, by mail, or in person.
- If you decide to apply online, you’ll need to create a free account. Then, click “Register a Trade Name” under the QuickStart list of options. Select “I am creating a new Domestic Business/Trade Name (DBA)” and select “Trade Name” under the “Business Type” drop-down menu.
- Following this step, the online and paper forms require you to fill out the same information. Enter all requested information, including your desired trade name, address, a brief description of your business, and the date it was organized. If you know it, New Hampshire also prefers that you include the NAICS code and subcode. Whether you’re a business applicant or an individual applicant, you’ll need the name of the applicant, their address, email address, and phone number.
- Don’t forget to sign your form. If you’re registering as a business, your manager or authorized member should sign the application. If you’re a sole proprietor, only your signature is required. And if a group of partners is filing for the DBA name, their application should be signed by one or more authorized partners.
- Include your filing fee. The cost to apply to register a trade name is $50. Checks, either submitted in person or mailed, should be printed, filled out in black ink, and made payable to the State of New Hampshire. When filing online, you may use your debit or credit card.
- Submit your application. If you’re filing online, the website will direct you to submit your application. If you’re filing by mail, though, you can send your application to Corporate Division, NH Dept. of State, 107 N. Main St., Room 204, Concord, NH, 03301-4989. You can also file in person on the third floor of the State House Annex, Room 317, 25 Capitol St., Concord, NH.
- Research county and city regulations where your business is located and determine whether they have any separate requirements regarding trade names.
- Because this is just an application, there’s no guarantee that your trade name will be approved for various reasons. For that reason, it’s smart to hold off on purchasing business cards and other materials with your DBA name printed on them. If your name has been accepted by the state, you’ll receive a filed-stamped copy within 30 days.
How do I manage ongoing DBA name compliance in New Hampshire?
After your New Hampshire DBA name is approved, it’s valid for five years. At that point, you’ll need to re-register the name if you intend to continue using it. To do so, you’ll need to file the “Trade Name Renewal” form, which has a $50 fee. You can file online or obtain a paper copy of this form by contacting the state’s Corporation Division.
You’ll be notified by the state of your pending expiration at least six months before the date. To renew your trade name, you’ll need to do so within 30 days of expiration. If you don’t fill out the renewal application by this time, your registration will be discontinued.
You can also make changes to your trade name, including business address, email address, or phone number, by filling out the “Trade Name Information Change” form. There is no cost to file this form to update information about your business. You can file this form online or request a physical copy from the state’s Corporation Division.
To add new members to your trade name, fill out the “Trade Name Addition in Partnership” Form. To remove members from your trade name, file the “Trade Name Withdrawal in Partnership” form. Both forms require a $10 filing fee. You can file online or download a physical copy through the Secretary of State’s Trade Name Forms and Laws page. You can mail your paper copy or submit it in person. These forms must be signed by all members, including the new or withdrawing members.
If you decide to terminate your trade name before the five-year expiration date, you must file the
“Trade Name Discontinuance” form, which has a $10 filing fee. You can find this form on the Trade Name Forms and Laws page or file it online. This form may be filed online or submitted by mail or in person. All members involved with your business must sign this form before its submission.
New Hampshire DBA FAQs
How much does it cost to register a New Hampshire DBA name?
To apply for your trade name — commonly known as a DBA name — in New Hampshire, you’ll file an Application for Registration of Trade Name through the Secretary of State. It costs $50 to file this application.
Once approved by the state, your trade name is active for five years. There is a $50 renewal fee. If you add or remove members from your trade name, there’s a $10 filing fee for each instance. There is no cost to update trade name information, including the business address, email address, and phone number.
Also, keep in mind that there are other costs associated with registering a DBA name for your brand. If you’ve just launched your formal business, there could be registration and licensing fees. There are also marketing and promotional costs, including business cards, letterhead, and other materials. You’ll also have to pay to create and maintain your website associated with this trade name.
What is the processing time to register a New Hampshire DBA?
After you apply to register your trade name, if the state approves it, you’ll receive notice of this decision within 30 days. If you haven’t received anything after 30 days, contact the Secretary of State’s Corporation Division. Your check might be cashed before you receive notification of your name being accepted or not. This only indicates that your application has been received, not that it has been approved or filed.
Do I need a DBA name for my New Hampshire business?
Legally, there is no requirement that your New Hampshire business uses a trade name. If you elect to do business under a name other than your own in New Hampshire, though, you must file to register your trade name.
Although not required, adopting a trade name is an acceptable business practice that could be advantageous to your company. As a sole proprietor, it creates a more professional image for your work by establishing an identity separate from your personal name. For corporations and LLCs, a trade name allows you to streamline your legal name. Dropping formal corporate signifiers, such as “LLC” or “Inc.,” builds a strong brand that has more of an impact on your customers.
If I register a DBA name in New Hampshire, can another business use the same name?
Yes, registering your trade name in New Hampshire grants you exclusive rights to the name. By having it on record, the name will be unavailable to other businesses for the five years your registration of the name is active.
Can a business in New Hampshire have multiple DBA names?
Yes, New Hampshire businesses can have multiple DBA names. In fact, there isn’t a limit to the number of trade names your company adopts. You just need to decide what is best for your business and branding needs. You might consider having a different trade name for each division of your company, or you might consider adopting DBA names for various products to create stronger brands.
As an example, perhaps you own a bookstore that buys used books to resell. Then, one day, someone offers you a selection of used vinyl records along with the books they’re unloading. You figure you should give it a try and create a small record section in your bookstore.
This section grows so much that you eventually decide to create a separate shop — with a completely different name. In this case, you’d create a DBA name for the new record shop rather than an entirely new legal business. Both the record shop and bookstore would fall under the same legal business, but you’d brand the record store as its own entity. And you’d approach marketing and branding for each business differently.
Is a DBA name the same thing as a fictitious business name in New Hampshire?
DBA names might be known by other names, including “fictitious name.” In New Hampshire, though, the formal name for a DBA name is “trade name.”
Do I need a DBA name in New Hampshire if I use my own name for a sole proprietorship?
As a sole proprietor, if you do business by any name other than your own legal name in New Hampshire, you are required to register it as a trade name. For instance, if you offer consulting services using your name, say, Mary Rogers, no trade name registration is required. If you decide to offer these same services as “Mary Rogers Consulting,” you would need to register a trade name.
Will using a DBA name affect how my business is taxed in New Hampshire?
No, adopting a DBA name in New Hampshire won’t affect how your business is taxed. Registering a trade name doesn’t create a new legal entity, which means it isn’t taxed separately. Instead, it’s registered to your legal business and taxed as part of that.
Are you launching a business in New Hampshire? Contact ZenBusiness to learn how our team can guide you through business formation. Our business experts can streamline the process of starting a company from start to finish, making it easier for you to build your brand and grow your business.