How to Start an LLC in New Hampshire

Granite Staters understand how small businesses impact economic development, travel, and tourism. In 2019, CNBC rated New Hampshire number one in business friendliness. Whether serving tourists near Mount Washington or contracting with Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester, we can help you start your new business. On this page, we’ll explain how to start an LLC in New Hampshire.

Starting an LLC in New Hampshire 

This page contains the steps for starting a new domestic, for-profit New Hampshire limited liability company (LLC). However, if you want to start a non-profit, benefit, professional (PLLC), or series LLC in New Hampshire, you’ll need to follow the process for that business type. If you already formed your LLC in another state and want to do business in New Hampshire, you’ll register as a foreign LLC. Foreign LLCs also have a different registration process not covered here.

LLC requirements vary state by state so it’s important that you are well-versed in New Hampshire laws before proceeding. Generally, it comes down to these steps:

1. Name your New Hampshire LLC

Before you can form your LLC in New Hampshire, you must choose a name. The business name is one of the most significant pieces of establishing your new LLC. The right name will broadcast your business purpose and culture to your customers (think Facebook vs. Meta). That said, while you can be creative with your name, it must meet specific requirements before you can register it.

Official Naming Requirements in New Hampshire

The New Hampshire Revised Limited Liability Company Act includes particular legal requirements for naming your New Hampshire LLC. Every LLC in New Hampshire must include an identifying suffix in its name, like “limited liability company,” “L.L.C.,” “LLC,” or similar. Also, the name must be unique and available. Your name must be distinguishable from all other business and trade names registered in New Hampshire to be unique. 

A name isn’t unique if the only difference is:

  • An article
  • The plural of the same word
  • The same name or word is spelled differently
  • An abbreviation instead of the full spelling of the name
  • A suffix or prefix added to a word, a variation or derivative of the same word, excluding antonyms and opposites
  • A change in the identifying suffix
  • Unless the current name holder consents, the addition of a numeric designation
  • Differences in punctuation or special characters, unless they change the word’s clear meaning
  • Differences in whether letters or numbers follow each other immediately or are separated by spaces
  • An Arabic or Roman numeral representing a number or a word representing the same number in the same position within otherwise identical names

As you can see, your name must be completely unique. “Let’s Go Racing” and “L3ts G0 R4cing” don’t pass New Hampshire’s distinguishable test. 

Once you have some ideas, you can complete a business name check with the Corporation Division to see if your chosen name is available. If you’re not sure how to do this, use our business entity name search tool to guide you through the steps.

Reserving a Name

When you find a unique name for your New Hampshire LLC, you can reserve it. Reserving a name doesn’t form your LLC, but it grants you exclusive rights to use the name for 120 days. It protects your name while you collect the information you need for your formation documents. The Application for Reservation of Name has a small filing fee. If you need additional preparation time, you can re-file and extend the reservation for another 120 days.

Searching for a Domain Name

Most entrepreneurs know they need a website and email address to promote their business online. When choosing a domain name, consider securing a URL that reflects your business name. The availability of a domain name that’s easy and accessible for your customers might influence your decision. When you find the right one, use our Domain Name Registration Service to secure it right away.

Is your New Hampshire LLC name available as a web domain?

An online presence is vital for every new business. When choosing your business name, consider how you want to represent your LLC online. An effective web domain name is one your customers can easily remember, recognize, and access. Perform a search and see if your business name is available. You might also want to search to see if your name is available on social media. Businesses often reach customers through Facebook, TikTok, or Instagram. If the name you want isn’t available as a domain name, it might influence the name you choose for your company.

Registering a DBA

If you plan to do business with a name other than the LLC’s registered name, you must register a trade name with the New Hampshire Secretary of State. Your trade name, also called a “DBA” or “doing business as” name, should be unique and distinguishable from other registered business names. However, it doesn’t need to include an identifying suffix. Trade name registration is effective for five years, and there’s a filing fee.

Protecting Your Trademark

You can file for trademark protection if your business uses a unique slogan, logo, or other identifying marks. A New Hampshire LLC can file a trademark at the state or federal level. Take some time to check both registers to ensure you’re using a unique mark. When you file a Trademark Application with the New Hampshire Secretary of State, registration is effective for 10 years. You’ll pay a filing fee for each application you submit.

2. Appoint a registered agent in New Hampshire

Before completing your LLC formation, you need to appoint a NH registered agent. A registered agent is a person designated to receive government and legal notices for the company. When the Secretary of State needs to send your LLC a notice, such as a renewal, tax, or late notice, they’ll deliver it to your registered agent in person. The registered agent also receives service of process and subpoenas. When they receive a notice, they’ll forward it to you.

Who can be a registered agent for an LLC in New Hampshire?

You can appoint any individual or company with a registered office in New Hampshire as your registered agent. However, your registered agent must be available at their business address during regular business hours to receive notices. If you name yourself or a friend, you could miss important notices if you take a day off, visit clients, or go on vacation. You also risk being served in front of customers or business partners.

What if the state can’t find my New Hampshire registered agent?

Your registered agent is the contact person for service of process, subpoenas, and government notices. If the state can’t find your registered agent, it’ll send the notice by registered or certified mail to the LLC’s principal office. The state may also serve a manager by certified mail or any other method. It’s easy to dismiss or misplace a notice received by mail, so it’s a good idea to keep your registered agent up-to-date or use a commercial registered agent service.

Use a Registered Agent Service

Some corporations and LLCs exist to serve as commercial registered agents for other businesses. Using a commercial registered agent service allows you to avoid the unfortunate scenarios above. What’s more, you won’t have to change your address if you move to a new business location. To simplify things, use our Registered Agent Service, and we’ll connect you with a New Hampshire registered agent.

ZenBusiness can be your registered agent

We know it’s challenging to find the right registered agent. You can search through the Secretary of State’s list of commercial registered agents, or you can let us help. Our Registered Agent Service connects you with a reliable registered agent in your state. And if you choose us as your registered agent, we’ll even keep the related paperwork stored in your dashboard to keep you organized.

3. File New Hampshire Certificate of Formation

To form your New Hampshire LLC, file your Certificate of Formation with the New Hampshire Secretary of State, Corporations Division. We’ll guide you through this step and complete the filing for you when you use our Business Formation Services. And to get you up and running faster, we provide expedited service to put you at the front of the line.

If you choose to complete the process on your own, follow these instructions on starting an LLC in NH.

Creating an NH QuickStart account to file your Certificate of Formation

To file your New Hampshire Certificate of Organization online, you’ll need to create a QuickStart account on the New Hampshire Secretary of State’s website and pay a $100 fee (plus a $2 online convenience fee). The filing fee for your Certificate of Formation isn’t the only fee you’ll pay. We’ve listed all the fees for NH LLC registration on our LLC costs page.

Information Needed for NH Certificate of Formation

When you file your Certificate of Formation online, the Secretary of State will ask you to provide:

  • The LLC name and business address
  • The appointed registered agent’s name and address
  • A statement of the company’s purpose or primary business
  • Whether the LLC will be managed by the members or a manager
  • Any other information you want to be public

You can complete the Certificate yourself, or an organizer may file it on your behalf.

Member-Managed or Manager-Managed?

A significant benefit of the LLC is the ability to choose how you want it to be managed. It’s important to make this decision ahead of time so you can list it on your Certificate of Formation.

If your LLC has a few members who want to be involved in decision-making, the member-managed LLC is best for you. However, if you have passive investors as members, you might want to appoint a manager. 

In a manager-managed LLC, the members have limited powers to make decisions. Instead, the manager is authorized to run the company, make decisions, and sign deals.

What if I need to make changes?

If you make changes to your NH LLC registration, you’ll need to file a Certificate Of Amendment and pay a filing fee. Filing an amendment alerts the Secretary of State to the change. We can handle this for you with our Amendment Filing Service. Also, consider our Worry-Free Compliance Service, which keeps you organized and includes two amendments a year. 

Why would I delay my New Hampshire LLC filing date?

Usually, your Certificate of Formation is effective on the day you file it. This is true even if it takes time for the Corporate Division to process your document. 

However, if you aren’t quite ready to open your doors, you can delay the effective date of your formation for 90 days. If you’re opening towards the latter part of the year, waiting to file until January 1 can keep you from owing taxes or needing to file an annual report if you haven’t started transacting business.

4. Create an Operating Agreement

Next, create your operating agreement to set rules to control the management of your LLC.

New Hampshire doesn’t require that you file an operating agreement. However, your LLC’s operating agreement is an essential document that governs the business’s internal operations — and it’s always best to have one. When you draft your own operating agreement, you control how distributions are made, when members can leave or join the company, and what happens if a member dies. If you don’t have an operating agreement, you must follow the default rules in New Hampshire’s law to resolve disputes. Unfortunately, these default rules may not give you the result you want.

Do I need an operating agreement even if I’m the only owner?

While operating agreements generally control disputes between owners, they can also be a helpful document for single-member LLCs. The operating agreement usually provides the procedure for continuing or terminating the business if a member dies or becomes incapacitated. Further, some banks, potential investors, and future business partners will want to see that you have an operating agreement.

In addition, an operating agreement can help protect your personal assets. Sometimes, an interested party can sue the LLC’s members if they have co-mingled their personal and business assets. In that case, your operating agreement can act as evidence that the LLC remains separate from its owners.

✓  If you’re unsure as to how to write an operating agreement for your LLC, check out this guide. Otherwise, if you decide to form your LLC with ZenBusiness, all our plans include a customizable operating agreement template to save you time researching and crafting the agreement yourself.

5. Apply for an EIN

The final step to NH LLC registration is applying for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS. Your LLC needs an EIN to file tax returns, report wage withholdings, and apply for a business bank account. You can apply through the IRS website or use our EIN Service, and we’ll handle it for you.

Our LLC formation service includes obtaining an EIN for your LLC but we can also help you get an EIN for an existing company

By starting an LLC in NH, your business will owe income taxes to the New Hampshire Department of Revenue Administration. You can register for state taxes online through Granite Tax Connect. Be prepared to file a tax return every year, usually in March, for the Business Enterprise Tax and Business Profits Tax. Also, expect to register with the state and federal governments if you’re in a regulated industry, like food service, timber, or tobacco.

Can filing as an S Corp lower my taxes?

One of the perks of the LLC is flexible taxation. The IRS taxes LLCs as pass-through entities, meaning there’s no income tax at the entity level. Instead, the LLC members pay self-employment taxes on their share of the profits. An LLC may choose to elect corporate taxation under Subchapter C or S. 

When an LLC registers as a corporation (a “C Corp” by default), it’ll pay corporate income tax, and the owners will pay taxes on dividends. To avoid this “double taxation,” you can elect S Corp status at the federal level. 

Electing S Corp status means your LLC will use pass-through taxation. However, owners may use a bifurcated tax rate, which may mean lower taxes. S Corp owners pay income taxes on their salary and a separate, usually lower, rate on dividends.

Regardless, it’s important to know that New Hampshire doesn’t recognize the federal S Corp election. Thus, you aren’t likely to see any tax savings at the state level.

For Employers

When your business employs one or more workers, New Hampshire Employment Security requires that you file an Employer Status Report. You must also report all new hires and submit a Quarterly Tax and Wage Report for every quarter you have employees. Additionally, all New Hampshire employers must have workers’ compensation insurance. Workers’ compensation insurance pays medical and wage benefits if an employee is injured on the job.

We can help

When it comes to New Hampshire LLC creation, you’ll probably have questions throughout the process. When you use our products and services, our team of business experts will be here to guide you on how to start an LLC in New Hampshire. Likewise, we’ll help keep your business legally compliant and up-to-date with the required filings throughout every stage. From the White Mountains to Merrimack Valley, Portsmouth, and the Great Bay, we offer specially-tailored services to New Hampshire entrepreneurs.

Disclaimer: The content on this page is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal, tax, or accounting advice. If you have specific questions about any of these topics, seek the counsel of a licensed professional.


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New Hampshire LLC FAQs

  • Forming an LLC in New Hampshire doesn’t require obtaining a general business license or collecting sales taxes. However, if you operate in a regulated industry, you may need a license from the state or federal government. In New Hampshire, regulated businesses must register using Granite Tax Connect. Regulated businesses include food service, hotels, restaurants, tobacco, timber, and alcohol. To ensure compliance, our Business License Report provides a list of the permits you need at all levels of government.

  • The fee for filing the NH Certificate of Formation online is $102, but this isn’t the only fee you might encounter.

  • Starting an LLC provides business owners with personal liability protection and flexibility. Because the business is its own legal identity, the owners’ personal assets are separate from the business and not available to satisfy business debts. Further, the LLC allows the owners to customize their experience with operations, distributions, and taxes.

  • An LLC doesn’t usually pay federal income tax at the entity level. Instead, the members pay individual taxes on their profits from the business. However, a New Hampshire LLC needs to pay the Business Enterprise Tax and Business Profits Tax to the New Hampshire Department of Revenue Administration. LLCs in regulated industries may owe other federal, state, or local taxes.

  • When you submit your Certificate of Formation, the New Hampshire Secretary of State, Corporate Division will review the documents for compliance. The review usually takes three to five business days.

  • No, the operating agreement is an internal document governing business operations and control.

  • One benefit of the LLC is flexibility in how income is taxed. By default, the IRS taxes single-member LLCs as sole proprietorships and multiple-member LLCs as partnerships. These businesses use “pass-through” taxation, meaning income is only taxed once on the owner’s individual tax return. On the other hand, you can choose corporate taxation (“C Corp”), and the LLC will pay the corporate tax rate on its income. Finally, you can also choose to be taxed as an S Corp, which uses pass-through taxation but allows members to pay a separate (usually lower) tax rate on dividends.

  • No, New Hampshire doesn’t authorize series LLCs. However, you may form a series LLC in another state like Delaware, Nevada, or Illinois — and then register in New Hampshire as a foreign LLC.

  • When you need to close your business, you’ll follow the procedures in your operating agreement for dissolution and winding up. Usually, dissolution requires a member vote. You’ll need a certificate of dissolution from the Department of Revenue Administration showing that your LLC doesn’t owe any taxes. You’ll also need to let your creditors know of your closing by sending them a letter and publishing a notice in a local newspaper. Once you’ve paid your creditors and distributed any remaining assets to the members, you’ll file a Certificate of Cancellation with the Secretary of State to terminate your registration.

  • A well-written operating agreement will detail the process for transferring your LLC ownership. Selling your interest usually requires the consent of the remaining members and a purchase agreement. You’ll also need to file an amendment to your Certificate of Formation to update the ownership.

  • Yes. Any business that operates under a name different from its registered name must file a DBA or trade name with the state.

  • Look to the provisions of your operating agreement for the process. You may have to take a vote or prove cause before removing a member. Your operating agreement likely also outlines the process for distributing the departing member’s interests to the remaining members. Don’t forget to update your Certificate of Formation with an amendment and ensure your operating agreement reflects the change in ownership.

  • Yes, New Hampshire LLCs must file an annual report updating the state on its information between January 1 and April 1 of each year.

  • While it’s not a legal requirement, it’s a good idea for a new LLC to have a business plan. Drafting a business plan can help you prepare for unexpected events and articulate your goals. Plus, investors and business partners will usually want to see your business plan.

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You want to get it right.”

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Entrepreneur and Shark Tank host lays out
3 steps to follow when starting a business

  • Form an LLC to protect your liability
  • Set up your banking and accounting
  • Grow sales by marketing your website

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Start Your LLC in New Hampshire