If you’ve always wanted to be your own boss, you aren’t alone. According to a survey, nearly two-thirds of Americans dream of opening their own business. Establishing a New Hampshire limited liability company (LLC) is a great way to attain this goal.
New Hampshire offers unique benefits for small business owners. For instance, there’s only a limited personal income tax in the state. To take advantage of such benefits, however, you have to carefully create your LLC to meet local, state, and federal requirements, covering everything from business permits to taxes.
Luckily, the process is relatively straightforward. It’s all about breaking it down into digestible steps, following a particular order. This guide gives you the tools you need to do just that. Below, get a comprehensive, step-by-step overview of what it takes to start a New Hampshire business — and find out how the right LLC service can make the process even easier.
Step 1: Name Your New Hampshire LLC
Your business is like a baby — you want to give it the perfect name. Strive for something that isn’t too complex so that people can recall it easily. We have a helpful New Hampshire business name search tool you can utilize. A great business name should also provide some idea of what products or services you offer. These practical naming suggestions aside, there are also legal elements to consider when naming your New Hampshire LLC.
According to state law, your LLC’s name must:
- Include the words “limited liability company.” An abbreviation of “LLC” or “L.L.C.” is acceptable.
- Steer clear of prohibited words. Specific terms like “corporation” can’t be used, as they might confuse people regarding the type of business you own. You also can’t use restricted words, such as phrases associated with a government agency.
- Be distinguishable. This means the name is one-of-a-kind so that it can be easily identified in records. To ensure no other business is already using your desired name, check the New Hampshire Department of State Quickstart’s database of business names.
When selecting a name, also do your research regarding domain names. Your business website is a great marketing tool. Securing a domain that mirrors your business name makes it easy for customers to find you online. Check to see if your desired domain is available.
Once you have the perfect name, reserve it to make sure it doesn’t get taken by someone else. Complete the Application for Reservation of Name and send a copy to: Corporation Division, NH Dept. of State, 107 N Main St, Rm 204, Concord, NH 03301-4989. You must pay a filing fee.
If you don’t want to go through the hassle of going through the state, we can reserve your business name and chosen domain. We also offer DBA or “Doing Business As” name registration. A DBA name can be used to launch future products and brands associated with your LLC and spares you the hassle of establishing a new company.
To make sure you’re entirely in the clear with your business name, visit the United States Patent and Trademark Office website to see whether your business name or logo is federally trademarked. Trademarks can also happen at the state level. To find out if your desired business name is already trademarked and/or apply for a trademark of your own, go to the Secretary of State website page for trademarks.
Step 2: Appoint a Registered Agent in New Hampshire
A New Hampshire registered agent accepts legal notices and correspondence from the Secretary of State on your LLC’s behalf. This must be a person or business with a physical address in The Granite State, not just a P.O. box. New Hampshire requires you to appoint a registered agent for your LLC.
While you are allowed to appoint yourself as the registered agent, this can present drawbacks. For one thing, you have the ability to move your office location without having to update your registered agent address with the state. For another thing, hiring a third-party agent gives you flexibility and freedom to leave the office, as the registered agent must be present at the office during all normal business hours.
Some additional benefits of using a registered agent service include:
- Easily operate as a foreign LLC: If you plan on doing business outside the state where your LLC is registered, a registered agent service can easily hold a small registered office in those states for you.
- Avoid the risk of noncompliance: With someone designated to receive all of your legal paperwork, you can rest easy knowing they’ll make sure you meet deadlines so that you remain in good standing.
New Hampshire does allow you to hire an external registered agent, provided they are a legal person or business with an in-state address. We offer registered agent services for the state of New Hampshire that help keep you covered and ensure no important paperwork slips through the cracks.
Step 3: File New Hampshire Certificate of Formation
With your LLC name and registered agent finalized, you can go ahead and file your New Hampshire Certificate of Formation. Commonly referred to as “Articles of Organization” in other states, this paperwork is submitted to the New Hampshire Secretary of State’s Corporation Division. If approved, it formally establishes your LLC as a legal business entity.
You can file the paperwork and pay the fee by mail, online, or in person. Filing by mail usually takes one to three weeks for everything to get processed. If you file online, processing usually takes three to seven business days. For a walk-in filing, your paperwork can be approved in just a couple of hours.
To complete the Certificate of Formation paperwork, you need to provide the following details:
- The LLC’s name
- The LLC’s physical business address and (if different) mailing address
- The resident agent’s name and address
- A description of the nature of the business and/or the six-digit North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code. You can look up the code applicable to your business by going to the NAICS website.
- The names of the LLC’s managers (owners)
You must also specify whether the management of the LLC is “vested in a manager(s).” This means choosing between a “member-managed” and “manager-managed” model of business. If you’re a smaller operation, and all managers are involved in day-to-day business decisions, member-managed is suitable. Larger LLCs with multiple members may do better with a manager-managed structure.
That being said, filing official government documents like this can be intimidating and/or complicated for many people, which is why we’re here to help. With our business formation plans, our professionals handle the filing for you to make sure it’s done quickly and correctly the first time.
If you have us handle filing your Articles of Organization, once the state approves your New Hampshire LLC, your paperwork will be available from your ZenBusiness dashboard, where you can keep it and other important paperwork digitally organized.
Once you get your physical paperwork back from the state approving your new LLC, you’ll want to keep it in a safe location along with your other important documents, such as your operating agreement, member certificates, contracts, compliance checklists, transfer ledger, etc. We offer a customized business kit to help you keep these important documents organized and looking professional.
By now you’re realizing how often you’ll need to supply an address for your new business. That can be unsettling for some business owners, especially those running their business from home. In instances where you’re not required to give the registered agent address or official principal address for your business, a virtual business address can come in handy.
Step 4: Create an Operating Agreement
Creating an LLC Operating Agreement is best practice in the business world. This valuable document defines who owns your business and how it will be run. Points to cover include who owns the LLC, how much of the LLC they own, how profits are to be divided, and how important decisions — like a potential sale of the company — might be made.
New Hampshire doesn’t require an Operating Agreement with your Certificate of Formation, but you should create one anyway. By providing clarity on business operations, this document prevents disputes between LLC members. It also makes your business more credible. For example, any reputable potential investor will ask to see an Operating Agreement to ensure your business is run well.
If you aren’t sure what points to include in the Operating Agreement, we can help. Our customizable New Hampshire operating agreement template can be utilized for fast, easy creation of a comprehensive Operating Agreement that covers the essentials.
Step 5: Apply for an EIN
With the above steps complete, you can request an Employer Identification Number (EIN). This unique tax ID number is what you will need for your tax paperwork if you have more than one member or plan to have employees. An EIN can also be called a Federal Tax Identification Number. However, even if you’re the only owner or member of your business, it’s still a good idea to apply for an EIN.
You can get your New Hampshire LLC’s EIN through the IRS website, by mail, or by fax, but if you’re unfond of dealing with that particular government agency, we can get it for you. Our EIN service is quick and eliminates the hassle.
Once you’ve secured an EIN, you’ll be able to open a business bank account. Having separate accounts for your business and your personal banking is critical for sorting out your finances at tax time and helps you avoid commingling funds. Commingling funds can not only make your taxes more difficult, but it could also be used against you if someone takes you to court to challenge whether you and your LLC are truly separate entities.
We offer a discounted bank account for your new business. This allows for unlimited transactions, online banking, a debit card, and more. When you want to authorize others in your business to use the account, we offer a banking resolution template to simplify the process.
For further help managing your new business’s finances, try the ZenBusiness Money App. It can help you create invoices, receive payments, transfer money, and manage clients all in one place.
New Hampshire LLC FAQs
How much does it cost to start an LLC in New Hampshire?
The state fees for forming a New Hampshire LLC range from $100 to $200, depending on factors such as your method of filing, whether you choose to reserve your business name, etc. Note that fees change over time, so you should check the Secretary of State website for the most recent fee schedule.
How is a New Hampshire LLC taxed?
Most LLC owners decide to have their business taxed the default way, which is as a sole proprietorship (for single-member LLCs) or a partnership (for multi-member LLCs). This method only requires members to pay taxes on their percentage of their profits on their personal tax returns. The LLC itself is not taxed. Another option is to choose to be taxed as a corporation. If you have formed a large LLC or bring in high earnings, this option might make more sense. Note that New Hampshire does not impose a sales tax. Personal income tax is also limited, taxing investment profits like dividends at just 5%.
However, New Hampshire imposes a business enterprise tax, ranging from 0.5% to 0.75%, which usually impacts businesses with an enterprise value of over $104,000. There is also a business profits tax, which varies annually but is generally around 8.5%. Only LLCs with more than $50,000 in gross receipts must file the business profits tax.
New Hampshire offers a unique situation in terms of taxes, which can be advantageous — but also confusing. A professional accountant can help guide you. We can help you get a better understanding of your taxes with our Free Accounting Assessment.
What are the benefits of an LLC in New Hampshire?
The benefits of forming a New Hampshire LLC include:
- Unique tax requirements: Personal income taxes are limited, and New Hampshire is also one of the few states that don’t impose a sales tax.
- Well-protected Operating Agreements: The New Hampshire LLC Act aims to give “maximum effect to the principle of freedom of contract and to the enforceability of operating agreements.” Basically, this means Operating Agreements are strongly upheld, which prioritizes the interests of LLCs.
- Different member classes: The New Hampshire LLC Act also allows for the contractual freedom to establish different “classes” of membership. For instance, you can have voting and nonvoting members when it comes to important decisions.
Learn more about the benefits of the general LLC business structure.
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Failing to secure licenses and permits in a timely fashion can result in fines. Let us eliminate the headache (and needless fees) with our advanced business formation services. We can help determine your New Hampshire small business license, permit, and reporting needs.
What is the processing time to form my New Hampshire LLC?
This depends on how you file your Certificate of Formation. If you file by mail, expect to wait for one to three weeks for processing. An online filing is usually processed within three to seven business days. An in-person filing can be completed on the same day.
New Hampshire has options for expediting your filing for an additional fee. If you’re in a hurry to form your LLC and don’t want to jump through the hoops of the state’s expedited filing processes, we can handle it for you with our faster filing speeds service.
Do I need to file my Operating Agreement with the state of New Hampshire?
While it’s not mandatory to file it with the state, creating an Operating Agreement helps to prevent conflicts between members and clarifies general operations.
What tax structure should I choose for my New Hampshire LLC?
Every business has different needs. The answer depends on your LLC’s unique characteristics, like annual profit and the number of employees. Consult a tax professional for personalized advice.
Does New Hampshire allow a Series LLC?
You may not establish a Series LLC in New Hampshire.
Which licenses and insurance are required for an LLC in New Hampshire?
You’ll need to make sure your LLC has all the licenses and permits it’s required to have by law. Unfortunately, because licensing varies by industry and location and can occur on the federal, state, and local levels, there’s no central place to check to see if you have all the licenses and permits you need. You’ll have to do some research.
If you don’t have the time or inclination to do all this research, or if you just want the peace of mind to know that your business has all the licenses and permits it’s legally required to have, our business license report service can do the work for you.
When do I file my New Hampshire LLC annual report?
New Hampshire also requires LLCs to file an annual report by April 1 of every year along with payment of your annual fee. Check with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) for federal licensing requirements. New Hampshire has a list of business areas requiring licensure. It’s up to you to ensure your LLC has all the federal, state, local, and industry-specific licensing it needs.
We can help you with your annual report in a couple of ways. Our annual report service will help you file your annual report, and our Worry Free Compliance service not only helps with filing your annual report, but also sends you other important compliance reminders and helps you with two amendment filings each year.