With its spirit of entrepreneurship and renowned business climate, New Hampshire values its large corporations, family-owned enterprises and everything in between. If it's your dream to start, grow, or expand here in the Granite State, all you need to know to hang out your Open for Business sign is right here.
Starting a Business
Registering Your Business
All companies that want to do business in New Hampshire must register with the Secretary of State's Corporation Division. You can download the required forms to register your business.
All questions about registering your business may only be answered by the Secretary of State's office at Corporation Division, Department of State, 107 N. Main St., Concord, NH 03301-4989. General Information: (603) 271-3244. Corporate Information Line: (603) 271-3246. Corporation Division Email Address: email@example.com
You can also find information on the Secretary of State's website:
- Visit the Frequently Asked Questions page for answers to many questions you may have on how and why to register your business.
- Visit the Business Name Lookup page to check on the availability of a business name. (This is an informational check and final determination of the availability of a name is made by the Secretary of State's office at the time the completed paperwork is finalized.)
- Visit the Corporation Division, Home Page to learn more about the division's responsibilites and to view all their links.
- Visit the Contact Information page to find out how to write, call, or email the Corporation Division.
If you have additional questions about starting a a business, please contact Michael Bergeron at the New Hampshire Business Resource Center: call (603) 271-2591 or 1-800-417-4110.
Business Licenses & Permits
Operators of restaurants, bakeries, car rental companies, hotels, and other companies are required by RSA 78:A to obtain a license to collect the state's 9% Meals & Rentals tax. For more details visit the Department of Revenue.
If you are starting a food and/or beverage service, contact the Health and Human Services—Food Protection, 29 Hazen Dr., Concord, NH 03301. 603-271-4589.
For a list of licensed occupations in New Hampshire contact the Economic and Labor Market Information Bureau, New Hampshire Employment Security, 32 South Main Street Concord, NH 03301. (603) 228-4124. Fax (603)228-4172. TDD Access: Relay NH 1-800-735-2964.
If you need assistance with environmental permits, visit the Department of Environmental Services permitting page for more information.
Types of Business Entities
The structure your business assumes is important in determining your limitations and liabilities. Depending on the type of structure you choose, additional paperwork may be necessary to establish the business in New Hampshire. Your accountant or attorney can help you decide what type of business structure best fits your needs.
- Sole Proprietorship: A sole proprietorship is the form of business entity with the least amount of legal formalities. In a proprietorship, the owner assumes sole responsibility for the operations and finances of the business, including profit and loss. In the proprietorship form of business entity, the owner's personal property is tied directly to the business; therefore, the owner assumes unlimited risk of his personal assets.
- "C" Corporation: Corporations are a separate entity from its owners. Corporations provide the shareholders with the most protection from liability and responsibility from debts and contracts. Profits for a corporation are taxed at the corporate level when the income is earned and is also taxed at the individual shareholder level.
- "S" Corporation: An "S" Corporation is similar to a corporation in that it provides its shareholders with protection from liability. However, unlike a corporation, an "S" corporation is exempt from federal income tax. Instead the taxes are paid solely by the individual shareholders.
- General Partnership: General Partnerships require an agreement between two or more individuals or entities to jointly own and operate a business. Profit, loss and managerial duties are shared among the partners, and each partner is personally liable for partnership debts. Partnerships do not pay tax, but must file an informational return, while individual partners report their share of profits and losses on their personal return. Short term partnerships are also known as joint ventures.
- Limited Partnership: A limited partnership is a form of business organization that offers some of the partner's limited liability. It consists of a general partner who organizes and manages the partnership and its operations, and limited partners who contribute capital but have limited liability and assume no active role in day-to-day business affairs.
- Limited Liability Partnership: LLP's are organized to protect individual partners from personal liability for the negligent acts of other partners or employees not under their direct control. LLP's are not recognized by every state and those that do, sometimes limit LLP's to organizations that provide a professional service, such as medicine or law, for which each partner is licensed. Partners report their share of profits and losses on their personal tax returns. Check with your Secretary of State's office to see if your state recognizes LLP's and if so, which occupations qualify.
- Limited Liability Company: A Limited Liability Company (LLC) is a combination of the corporate and partnership forms of business. In an LLC, parties control shares of the company and like corporations, and their liability for the operations of the company is determined by their level of investment. However, like partnerships, income tax is not paid at the LLC level, but rather it is "passed through" and taxed at the shareholder level. This somewhat complicated form of business entity should be discussed further with an attorney or accountant to determine if it will fit your needs.
Each of the above has legal, tax, and practical consequences that may require the advice of an attorney and/or CPA. You may contact the NH Bar Association website or call them at 603-224-6942 for a listing of attorneys.
Creating A Business Plan
Starting a business off on the right foot is an important step to achieving your dreams. Planning and organizing your strategy is the first of many steps to making the dream a reality.
Please visit the following websites for information on creating business plans and more:
Protecting Your Business's Trade or Service Mark
You must register your trade name or trademark/servicemark with the state of New Hampshire through the Secretary of State's office.
Visit these links on the NH Secretary of State's Corporation Division website to access the forms and laws for the following:
You should also register your trade/service mark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. If you wish to protect your trade name and mark in other states, you must also register with those states.
New Hampshire State Business Tax Information
If your company has a business presence in New Hampshire, you need to contact the New Hampshire Department of Revenue Administration. Its website provides an overview of New Hampshire taxes, tax forms, and FAQs.
Finding a Business Location
If you need office or industrial space, you can
- contact Michael Bergeron, Business Development Manager, at 603-271-2591. He will provide you with a customized, confidential survey that includes space for lease, buildings for sale or raw land to fit your specific business needs.
The state of New Hampshire does not provide outright grants to companies; however, there are several public sources for debt and equity and private venture capital possibilities. For in-depth information, visit the finance section of this website.
Contact the New Hampshire Employment Security and the New Hampshire Department of Labor.
- You must register with New Hampshire Employment Security to cover unemployment benefits. We recommend that you review its Employer Handbook and read about the rights and responsibilities of employers who are subject to the New Hampshire Unemployment Compensation Law (RSA 282-A).
- NH Department of Labor: Visit its employer's page to learn the labor laws you must know as a business in the state of New Hampshire. You may also obtain free mandatory posters and free training for your staff on the New Hampshire labor laws and rules.
Information on Small Business Programs
New Hampshire offers a wide range of public assistance resources that provide access to experienced individuals who can assist you based on your type of need. Visit the New Hampshire Business Utility Zone Gateway to find out more.