Here’s an overview of the key steps you’ll need to take to start your own business in New Hampshire.
The most common legal structures for a small business are:
There also are special versions of some of these structures, such as limited partnerships and S corporations. You’ll want to consider which business entity structure offers the type of liability protection you want and the best tax, financing, and financial benefits for you and your business. Check Choose Your Business Structure on Nolo’s website for more information on how to choose the best ownership structure for your business.
For LLCs and corporations, you will need to check that your name is distinguishable from the names of other business entities already on file with the New Hampshire Secretary of State (SOS). You can check for available names doing a business entity search on the SOS website. You can reserve an available name for up to 120 days by filing an Application for Reservation of Name with the New Hampshire SOS. There are also certain name requirements for LLCs and corporations (like including a word such as “L.L.C.” for LLCs or “Corporation” for corporations). See How to Form an LLC in New Hampshire and How to Form a Corporation in New Hampshire for more information.
Sole proprietorships and partnerships in New Hampshire must file a Trade Name Registration with the New Hampshire SOS if they use a business name that is different from the name of the business owner (for a sole proprietorship) or names of the individual partners (for a partnership).
If you plan on doing business online, you may want to register your business name as a domain name. See Choose and Register a Domain Name for more information. In addition, to avoid trademark infringement issues, you should do a federal and state trademark check to make sure the name you want to use is not the same as or too similar to a name already in use. See How to Do a Trademark Search for more information.
Tax Registration. New Hampshire does not have a state sales tax or a personal income tax on wages so there is no issue of registering for those types of taxes.
EIN. If your business has employees or is taxed separately from you, you must obtain a federal Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS. Even if you are not required to obtain an EIN, there are often business reasons for doing so. Banks often require an EIN to open an account in the business’s name and other companies you do business with may require an EIN to process payments. You can get an EIN by completing an online application on the IRS website. There is no filing fee.
Regulatory licenses and permits. These cover areas such as:
For regulatory licenses and permits issued by the state, check the Doing Business section of New Hampshire’s official government website, www.nh.gov. For information about local licenses and permits, check the websites for any cities or counties where you will do business.
Professional and occupational licenses. These cover people who work in various fields. 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.
You’ll need to pick a location for your business and check local zoning regulations. That includes if you work from home. You may be able to find zoning regulations for your town or city by checking municode.com.
New Hampshire has a Business Enterprise Tax (BET) and Business Profits Tax (BPT). Each of these taxes can apply to any New Hampshire business that has a certain minimum amount of gross receipts, or, in the case of the BET, a certain minimum enterprise value tax base. See New Hampshire State Business Income Tax for more information on state business taxes in New Hampshire.
Sole proprietorships. Apart from the BET and BPT, sole proprietorships only pay federal taxes on business income.
Partnerships. Apart from the BET and BPT, partnerships only pay federal taxes on business income.
LLCs. Apart from the BET and BPT, LLC members only pay federal taxes on business income. In addition, the LLC itself must file an annual report with the New Hampshire SOS. See New Hampshire LLC Annual Report and Tax Requirements for more information.
Corporations. Taxation of corporations and their shareholders in New Hampshire can be complicated. Corporation dividends may figure in to certain kinds of state taxation. In addition, corporations must file an annual report with the New Hampshire SOS.
Apart from New Hampshire taxes, there are always federal income and employer taxes. Check IRS Publications 334, Tax Guide for Small Business, and 583, Taxpayers Starting a Business, available at irs.gov.
Insurance is a good idea for most kinds of business. While insurance often is regulated at the state level, the types of business insurance available are usually similar across the fifty states. Check Obtaining Business Insurance for more information.