How to Form a Corporation in New Hampshire

Learn everything you need to know to incorporate your business in New Hampshire.

The steps for forming a corporation in New Hampshire are laid out below.

You can also use Nolo's Online Corporation Service, which will form a corporation for you, providing you with everything you need including a corporate name check, articles, bylaws, a corporate records book, an incorporator's statement, minutes of the first meeting of the board of directors, stock certificates, and a stock transfer ledger.

1. Choose a Corporate Name

Your corporation's name must be recognizably different from the names of other business entities already on file with the New Hampshire Secretary of State. You can check to see if a name is available for use in the New Hampshire Secretary of State business name database.

Your corporation's name must contain the word "corporation," "incorporated," or "limited," or the abbreviation "corp.," "inc.," or "ltd."—or words or abbreviations of similar meaning in another language.

You can reserve a name for 120 days by filing an Application for Reservation of Name with the New Hampshire Secretary of State. The application may be filed online or by mail. The filing fee is $15.

2. Prepare and File Articles of Incorporation

You legally create a corporation by filing Articles of Incorporation with the New Hampshire Secretary of State. The articles must include the following:

  • corporate name
  • number of shares the corporation is authorized to issue
  • principal place of business
  • name and address of the registered agent (or "agent for service of process"), and
  • the name and address of each incorporation
  • the name and address of the initial directors
  • the purpose for which the corporation is organized, and
  • whether the corporation elects to be a "benefit corporation."

    The articles may be filed online or by mail. The filing fee is $100.

    3. Appoint a Registered Agent

    Every New Hampshire corporation must have an agent for service of process in the state. Also called a "registered agent," this is an individual or corporation that agrees to accept legal papers on the corporation's behalf if it is sued. The registered agent may be a New Hampshire resident or a corporation, LLC, or limited liability partnership authorized to do business in New Hampshire. The registered agent must have a physical street address in New Hampshire. Before you include the registered agent, the agent should agree to accept service of process on your corporation's behalf.

    4. Prepare Corporate Bylaws

    Bylaws are an internal corporate document that sets out the basic ground rules for operating your corporation. They are not filed with the state. Your corporation is not legally required to have corporate bylaws, but you should adopt them because they establish your corporation's operating rules and help show banks, creditors, the IRS, and others that your corporation is legitimate. You can customize bylaws for your corporation on Nolo's website or use the book Incorporate Your Business, by Anthony Mancuso (Nolo), to create your own.

    Keep your bylaws, articles, stock certificates, minutes of shareholder and director meetings, and other important papers in a corporate records book. You can use a three-ring binder or order a corporate records kit through a corporate kit supplier (a corporate records book and company seal come with Nolo's corporate formation service).

    5. Appoint Initial Directors and Hold Board Meeting

    Technically, the incorporator—the person who signed the articles—appoints the initial corporate directors who will serve on the board until the first annual meeting of shareholders (at which point the shareholders will elect the board members who will serve for the next term). The incorporator must create an "Incorporator's Statement" showing the names and addresses of the initial directors. The incorporator then signs the statement and place a copy in the corporate records book. The statement doesn't need to be filed with the state. For a sample Incorporators Statement, see Incorporate Your Business, by Anthony Mancuso (Nolo).

    At the first board meeting, the directors appoint corporate officers, adopt bylaws, select a corporate bank, set the corporation's fiscal year, authorize the issuance of shares of stock, and adopt an official stock certificate form and corporate seal. The sale of stock by small "privately held" corporations are usually exempt from federal and state securities lawssee the Nolo Corporations FAQ for more information.

    Record the directors' actions in corporate minutes prepared by the incorporator or any of the directors. For corporate meeting minute forms, see Nolo's website or refer to Incorporate Your Business, by Anthony Mancuso (Nolo). (Nolo's corporate formation service comes with filled-out minutes of the first meeting as well as an Incorporator's Statement.)

    6. Comply with New Hampshire Annual Report Requirements

    All corporations doing business in New Hampshire must file an Annual Report with the Secretary of State every year. The Secretary of State will mail your corporation a notice of when the report is due. The report must be filed online. The filing fee is $100.

    7. Obtain an EIN

    Your corporation must obtain a federal employer identification number (EIN). You may obtain an EIN by completing an online application on the IRS website. There is no filing fee.

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