How to Get a Small Business License in New Hampshire

Learn the steps required to obtain a business license in New Hampshire.



Looking to start a small business in New Hampshire? You may need to obtain one or more state licenses or permits, or complete one or more kinds of state registration, as part of the start-up process. Here’s a quick look at some of the main informational resources available and a few of the steps you may need to take.

New Hampshire Small Business Information Programs

You can find answers to many New Hampshire small business questions by checking with New Hampshire’s Division of Economic Development at NHEconomy.com. The website has information and links specifically for small businesses. The Free Business Advice section has links to the New Hampshire Small Business Development Center, the New Hampshire office of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), the Center for Women’s Business Advancement, and various other organizations. The Financing section provides basic options to fund your small business.

Get One or More Business Licenses

Not every New Hampshire business needs a license. However, many types of businesses either can or must get a license. Apart from professional and occupational licensing, discussed below, some of the key state business licenses and permits are:

  • environmental permits
  • food services licensing
  • licenses to sell alcoholic beverages, and
  • meals and rental tax licenses.

New Hampshire’s official government website, nh.gov, has a Doing Business section with links to more information about these and other business-related permits. The section also has links to other information important for your business, such as taxes and employment.

File Records for Your Form of Business

In addition to licenses, some legal forms of business, such as corporations and limited liability companies (LLCs), must file certain records. More specifically, corporations, LLCs, and certain other types of business must file organizational documents with the Corporation Division of the New Hampshire Secretary of State (SOS; also sometimes called the Department of State). Check the Corporation Division website, including the Forms section, for more details.

Obtain Professional Licensing

If you’re a member of any of a large number of professions and occupations, you’ll need to be licensed by the State of New Hampshire. Among the many professions requiring state licensing are: physicians, attorneys, dentists, accountants, architects, engineers, nurses, and veterinarians. You can get information about the state agencies that license and regulate many professions and occupations by going to the Licensed, Certified and Registered Occupations Index in the New Hampshire Employment Security (NHES) website.

Example: Greta wants to work as a licensed insurance adjuster. She’ll need to take an exam and get a license through the Licensing Division of the New Hampshire Insurance Department. She can find information about the exam and license by clicking on “Insurance Adjuster” in the occupations index on the NHES website.

Register an Assumed or Fictitious Business Name (Trade Name)

Many small businesses don’t simply operate under the names of their owners. Instead, they operate under a business name. In addition, some businesses, such as corporations and LLCs, may originally register with the state under one name (sometimes called the registered name, actual name , or true name), but later choose to operate under another name. Depending on where you’re doing business and how your business is structured, this alternative business name technically may be known as an assumed name, a fictitious name, a trade name, or a DBA (for “doing business as”). Most forms of small business in New Hampshire, such as corporations, LLCs, and sole proprietors, must file a form with the Secretary of State if they intend to operate under a trade name.

Example: Samuel originally organized his car repair business as a New Hampshire corporation named Sam’s Best Garage, Inc. He now wants to operate under the name Granite State Foreign Auto Repair, Inc. Samuel must file anAPPLICATION FOR REGISTRATION OF TRADE NAME, including the filing fee, with the SOS.

Register a Trademark or Trade Name

There are separate legal definitions for trademarks, trade names, and service marks. However, speaking very generally, trademarks, service marks, and trade names are used to uniquely identify goods (products), services, or a business. This includes distinguishing a product, service, or business from potential competitors. You can register trademarks and service with the Corporation Division of the SOS. (This is distinct from federal registration.) You can find more information, including a link to the proper state forms, in the Trademark/Servicemark Forms and Lawssection of the Corporation Division website.

Example: Harriet wants to sell her chocolate peanut brittle under the name “Harry’s Happy Brown Peanut Crackle.” So—after checking to make sure the name isn’t already in use—she files Form TM-1, APPLICATION FOR REGISTRATION OF TRADEMARK/SERVICE MARK, including the filing fee, with the Corporation Division.

Additional Information

This article covers only the very tip of the iceberg regarding small business licenses and registrations in New Hampshire. You can find much more information in the many other articles in the Small Business section here on Nolo.com. Many of those articles are part of 50-state series—so you can get plenty of information that’s specific to the State of New Hampshire. You can also find expanded information in many Nolo books, such as Legal Guide for Starting & Running a Small Business, by Fred S. Steingold, and The Small Business Start-Up Kit, by Peri Pakroo.

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