How to Start a Sole Proprietorship in Connecticut

Once you start a business, you automatically become a sole proprietor in Connecticut. But you should still take steps to start your sole proprietorship, including choosing a business name, applying for licenses and permits, and obtaining an EIN.

By , Attorney Brigham Young University J. Reuben Clark Law School
Updated by David M. Steingold, Attorney
Updated 3/14/2023

If you've started selling your homemade jewelry online or running personal training sessions out of your garage, you've likely formed a sole proprietorship already—and you're not alone. When an individual starts a business (sells goods or services) and that person hasn't filed any legal documents with the state officially registering the business, then the person automatically created a sole proprietorship.

A sole proprietorship is low maintenance. It doesn't typically require you to file any creation documents or submit renewal filings or fees, and you can usually report your income on your personal tax return. But sole proprietors are personally liable for the business's debts and obligations, so you might need to dip into your personal funds to satisfy any debts your business can't pay.

In Connecticut, you can establish a sole proprietorship without filing any legal documents with the Connecticut state government. Though no action is required to legally create a sole proprietorship, you should follow four simple steps to start your business:

  1. Choose a business name.
  2. File a Trade Name Certificate with the town clerk.
  3. Apply for licenses, permits, and zoning clearance.
  4. Obtain an employer identification number (EIN).

For more information, read our article on how to start a business in Connecticut.

1. Choose a Business Name

In Connecticut, a sole proprietor can use their own legal name or a trade name– also known as a "fictitious business name," "assumed name," or "doing business as" (DBA)—to conduct business. If you plan to use a trade name for your business, it can't be the same name as any other company currently registered with the state.

It's also a good idea to choose a name that's not too similar to another registered business to avoid trademark infringement. Under trademark law, your trade name can't be used by someone else in a way that would cause confusion among consumers. So, if you use a name that's the same as or too similar to someone else's trademark and you both provide similar goods or services, then you could be infringing on that other person's trademark. If you find a competitor company already exists with a similar name, then it's best to choose another name.

For example, suppose you want to operate a fried fish cart under the name Mystic Shoreline Daily Catches. In the next town over, there's a small restaurant called The Mystic Daily Catch that has been in business for years. Because your fish cart would have a similar name to a restaurant that already exists, you should choose a different name.

To make sure your business name is available, you should run a search in the following government databases:

For more information, read our FAQ on how to choose and register a business name.

2. File a Trade Name Certificate With Your Town

If you use a business name that's different from your legal name, Connecticut requires you to register your trade name with the town where you do business. (Conn. Gen. Stat. § 35-1 (2023).)

For instance, suppose Rafael Villiers runs a bookshop under the name Exalted Reads Bookstore. Because Rafael's business name, Exalted Reads Bookstore, isn't the same as his legal name, he'll need to register his business name.

Contact your town clerk for a trade name certificate. To file your certificate, you must sign the form in front of a notary and then submit it to your town clerk. The Connecticut state government provides a list of city and town websites to assist you. As of 2023, the filing fee to register your trade name is $10.

3. Apply for Licenses, Permits, and Zoning Clearance

Depending on your business activities, you could need to apply for business or professional licenses. Connecticut's Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) has a website devoted to licenses, registrations, and permits.

The DCP provides information about:

  • applications
  • renewals
  • fees
  • education and training prerequisites
  • exams
  • continuing education and training
  • relevant laws and changes in law, and
  • helpful resources.

You can also search for licenses related to specific state government departments through the CT License and Permit Center website.

You might also need to comply with local regulations, building permits, and zoning laws. Check with your city and county governments for more information.

4. Obtain an EIN

Sole proprietors who wish to have employees need to obtain an EIN. This is a nine-digit number issued by the IRS for tax reporting purposes. All businesses with employees are required to report wages to the IRS using an EIN. You can register for an EIN online with the IRS.

Sole proprietors without employees aren't required to have an EIN. Instead, you can use your Social Security number to report taxes. Nevertheless, you might want to obtain an EIN. Some banks require an EIN to open a bank account, and having an EIN can reduce the risk of identity theft.

In Connecticut, businesses are required to report taxes and file various employee reports. You might need to use your EIN when reporting business taxes.

Next Steps for Sole Proprietors

You should consider taking the following additional steps once you've established your sole proprietorship:

  • Open a business bank account for your sole proprietorship. Using your assumed business name and EIN, set up a bank account to keep your business and personal finances separate. You should keep your business income and expenses separate from your personal funds so you can easily distinguish your business's financial profile for tax purposes. For instance, you can more easily report business deductions on your tax return if you've created a separate account.
  • Obtain general liability insurance. Because sole proprietors are personally liable for all debts and obligations of the business, a business liability insurance policy can offer financial protection against unforeseen events. You should also consider other types of insurance for your business, including property and auto insurance. For more information, read our article on the types of insurance your small business might need.
  • Report and pay taxes. Depending on your specific business activities, you could be required to report such items as sales tax and use tax. The Department of Revenue Services provides information on how to register your business and pay business taxes on its website. You can also check the state business taxes section of the Connecticut state website for information on matters such as tax certificates, wage withholding, general sales tax, and business registry resale certificates. Additionally, if you have employees, you must report and pay employment taxes on a periodic basis. (For more information, see our section on business taxes and deductions.)

To find out how to form a sole proprietorship in any other state, see our 50-state guide to establishing a sole proprietorship.

Consulting a Small Business Attorney

You might not need to submit paperwork to start a sole proprietorship in Connecticut. But your specific circumstances could require you to file certain forms and comply with certain rules and regulations. As a business owner, it's important to understand what steps you need to take to legally start and operate your sole proprietorship.

If you have business experience and only need to meet a few requirements to establish your sole proprietorship, you can probably do the work yourself. But if you need specific guidance or run into a complicated issue when starting your business, you should talk to a small business lawyer. A lawyer can help you register your name, file your taxes, and obtain licenses and permits.

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