How to Start a DBA in New Hampshire

Whether you’d like to set up a business in Manchester, Concord, or anywhere in between, New Hampshire is a vibrant, business-friendly state. One of the easiest ways to establish a startup in The Granite State is to register a DBA, or “doing business as.” A DBA gives you the ability to operate a business under a name other than your own personal name. If you’re ready to launch a business in a state that’s full of natural beauty, here are tips to get a DBA up and running.

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DBA meaning

The acronym “DBA” stands for “doing business as” and is used to refer to a business operating under a different name from its legally registered name. Different states use a variety of terms to refer to this concept, like “fictitious name,” “assumed name,” or “trade name,” but they all amount to the same concept. 

A DBA is the name that’s used for business operations. It’s what you may see on signage and business cards, what customers will know you by, and what you will use on most documents.

For sole proprietors, a DBA filing gives you the right to operate under a name other than your own name.

How to search DBA names in New Hampshire

To register a DBA, the first thing you need is a name for your new business. However, it’s not as easy as picking a name and registering it with the state. There are rules and procedures you need to follow. Here’s how to pick a name that the state will approve of: 

1
All names should be unique

In most states, no two businesses can have the same name. As a result, it’s good practice to brainstorm a handful of business names. You’ll need to check on name availability, so if one name is taken, you can easily move on to the next.

Remember, a good business name is easy to pronounce, relevant to your product or service, and memorable. 

2
Know the naming rules in New Hampshire

New Hampshire will not allow any business, including DBAs, to have names that:

  • Include any business structure in its name like “LLC” or “Corp” unless the business is actually set up as that business entity.
  • Use any words associated with a financial institution like “bank” or “credit union,” unless the business can prove that it works in the financial sector.
  • Include the name of any political party without authorization.

3
Check on name availability

New Hampshire keeps a database of all named businesses in the state. Before registering a DBA, you have to make sure the name you’d like to use is available. 

To check name availability, visit the New Hampshire Department of State website. You’ll find a business search tool where you can enter your proposed name to see if it’s already in use or not. 

If a name is already in use, you can’t use it. You’ll need to go to the next name on your list.

Check business name availability here.

4
You can’t tweak a name to make it unique

You can’t make small adjustments to your proposed name to make it unique. The state requires all names to be distinguishable, which means if a business called “Joe’s Plants and Decor” already exists, you can’t register a business called “Joe’s Decor and Plants” because the two can be mistaken for each other.  

How to register a DBA in New Hampshire

With a name chosen, you’re ready to register your New Hampshire DBA. The DBA registration process is fairly simple. You fill out a form, pay a filing fee, and await state approval. More specifically, here are the steps to follow to register a DBA officially:

1
Make sure your name is unique

Before you fill out any registration paperwork, you must have a unique business name. If you submit a DBA application with a name that’s already taken, your application will be rejected. Follow the steps above to check on name availability. 

2
File documents

New Hampshire allows small business owners to file DBA documents online, by mail, or in person. The easiest option is to file the DBA paperwork online

The form asks for several pieces of information, which include:

  • Business name
  • Business address
  • Business mailing address (if it’s different than the physical address)
  • Name of applicants
  • Contact information
  • Brief description of the small business

3
Pay the filing fee

Every state charges a filing fee to register DBAs. In New Hampshire, the filing fee is $50. 

4
Wait for state approval

The state will review your application within seven business days. If there are any problems, you’ll be notified. If the application is approved, you’ll receive a letter saying so. 

What comes next

Once you have an approved DBA, there are a few additional things small business owners should do. Before you open your doors to customers, there are a handful of administrative tasks to manage, like:

1
Getting an EIN

An EIN is an employer identification number that’s issued by the IRS. This nine-digit number is primarily used for tax purposes, but sole proprietors do need this number to hire employees or open business bank accounts. 

Obtaining the number is fast and easy on the IRS website. You simply answer a few questions online, and the number is issued to you immediately. 

If you plan to get an EIN, you can do so on the IRS website.

2
Checking on business licenses

To conduct business, you may need a certain kind of license. New Hampshire doesn’t have a general business license that all businesses must have, but your county or city may have requirements. 

To move forward, call your county clerk’s office and inquire about any licenses or permits needed. 

3
Launching a business website

Most consumers research online before buying a product or visiting a new store. An online presence is very important to new businesses and should be established before making a sale.

You’ll need to rent the domain name, which ideally matches your DBA name, and find a DIY website builder to use. The tool you select will likely depend on your site’s purpose. For instance, a business that plans to sell merchandise on its site will need different tools than a local service-based business that simply needs a website for a “contact us” page.

4
Opening business bank accounts

If you’re running a business, even a side hustle, you should separate your business and personal finances. Why? When tax time rolls around, you’ll need to specify business income and expenses, and that’s hard to do if your personal and business finances are intermingled. 

At the very least, consider opening a business checking account. The Bank of New Hampshire or BankProv are two popular options in the state, but any financial institution with business bank accounts will suffice. 

You may want to open a business savings account and apply for a business credit card too. 

5
Talking with an accountant about NH taxes

Each state has its own tax laws, and New Hampshire is no different. It’s a good idea to speak with an accountant to understand how businesses are taxed and what your tax burden could be for the year. 

New Hampshire has a Business Profits Tax, which is tax assessed on any income generated in the state. Check the New Hampshire Department of Revenue Administration for updated tax rates

Your business entity may also impact your taxes. If, for example, you have set up a limited liability company (LLC) and elected an S corp filing, and used a DBA to establish a different name than is on record, it impacts how much money you pay in taxes. The type of business you have makes a difference.

6
Renewing your DBA as required by the state

The state requires you to review your DBA every five years. About six months before the five-year mark, you’ll receive a letter from the state reminding you to renew. The message usually includes links to file a renewal form and pay a filing fee. 

Who is a DBA best for? 

Sole proprietorships often use DBA names so they can separate their personal name from the business name to protect personal assets. General partnerships use it for the same reason, so all partnerships can monitor business dealings. 

Any type of legal business entity can do business under a DBA, and many do it to build a branded image or because they have multiple niche businesses they wish to keep as separate legal entities. The idea is to keep a DBA name from the legal name, which can be a company name or a personal name. The name of the business is one of the most important things you can do.

Why would entrepreneurs choose to set up a DBA?

There are many reasons to get a DBA instead of an LLC or any other business entity, especially when starting. With that in mind, here are some of the benefits of creating a DBA:

  • Having a DBA allows you to apply for an employee identification number or EIN, which allows you to hire employees or freelancers.
  • Getting a DBA is the most affordable way to start a legitimate business as a sole proprietor.
  • A DBA will allow you to do business using a different name, which also allows you to create a business bank account under an assumed name other than your legal name.
  • Existing companies can use a DBA to do a rebrand without having to change their original name, whether it is an incorporation or LLC.
  • A DBA offers privacy protection since you can do business under a different name.
  • A DBA will make your business more legitimate and trustworthy, essential for growing your client base.

FAQs

What’s a fictitious business name?

A fictitious name is the same as a DBA, which gives you the opportunity to give your business a different name.

Does a New Hampshire DBA need a business bank account?

No, a business bank account is not a requirement, but it is helpful to keep your personal and business finances separate.

Should a DBA get an EIN?

An EIN is a good idea for all businesses, even ones that don’t plan to hire any employees. Why? An EIN is required to open a business bank account, which is good practice for any business of any size. It takes seconds to get an EIN on the IRS website.

Some states require DBAs to register at the county level; does New Hampshire?

No. All DBAs are registered at the state level instead of the local or county level. You should check with your county regarding business licenses and permits, though.

Can a DBA turn into an LLC in New Hampshire?

No. An LLC is a type of business entity. While it is also registered with the state and follows a similar registration process, an LLC must file specific paperwork to form.

What does a DBA cost to set up?

Usually, the governing authority charges a small filing fee to set up a DBA. In New Hampshire, the state charges $50 to file the necessary DBA paperwork and obtain a name certificate.

Do you have to advertise a DBA in New Hampshire?

Some states require new businesses to advertise its formation in a local newspaper for a certain period of time. New Hampshire does not require you to advertise your new business.

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