New Hampshire Business Name Search (Step-by-Step Guide)
Even with the help of business services through the Secretary of State, registering a business has financial consequences. Always discuss business setup with a business attorney.
How to search for New Hampshire business names
Before registering for a new business entity name in New Hampshire, a business owner must first choose a name and an entity type. Once the business owner chooses a name, the business owner must determine if the name is available. The New Hampshire Department of State provides a search tool that allows a business owner to determine name availability. To search New Hampshire’s business names:
- Step 1: Navigate to the New Hampshire Department of State’s search tool to start entering search criteria.
- Step 2: Select the radio button for ‘Business Name.’
- Step 3: Select the radio button for ‘Starts With.’
- Step 4: Enter the business name in the box labeled ‘Business Name.’
- Step 5: If checked, uncheck the box labeled ‘Show me similar sounding business names.’
- Step 6: Leave the boxes labeled ‘Business ID’ and ‘Filing #’ empty.
- Step 7: If checked, uncheck the box labeled ‘Show me similar sounding registered agent names.’
- Step 8: Enter the CAPTCHA characters in the box to the left of the CAPTCHA.
- Step 9: Click the ‘Search’ button.
Review the results. If an exact match exists, the business owner must choose a different name. If a name is too similar, the business owner must also choose a different name. For example, if the business owner chose “ABC Widgets” and a company named “The ABC Widgets” exists, the name is too similar.
How to register a business name in New Hampshire
Once a business owner chooses a business name that is available, the business owner can register the business with the New Hampshire Department of State. Before starting the registration process, the business owner must choose an entity type.
Choosing a business type is something that takes some thought. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) taxes various entities in different ways. For example, the IRS taxes a corporation’s profits at the corporate level. When the directors take a paycheck, the money is taxed again at the personal level. With a limited liability company, the IRS taxes the profits once – on the members’ personal taxes.
Additionally, certain entities offer protection of personal assets from business creditors and lawsuits. The limited liability company and corporation are two of those entities. A sole proprietor has no protection of personal assets from business creditors and lawsuits.
If a business owner is not sure which entity is best for the business, she should consult an attorney before registering the business with the New Hampshire Department of State.
New Hampshire trademark/DBA name search
A business owner can also file a trademark in New Hampshire. NH.gov does not offer a trademark search. However, the business owner can file a trademark online. Filing a trademark in New Hampshire protects the trademark only in New Hampshire. To protect the trademark in other states, the business owner must file the trademark with the US Patent and Trademark Office.
If a business owner wishes to determine whether a business name or logo has been trademarked at the federal level, search the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Check if the domain name is available
Before a business registers its name, the business owner should take additional steps to ensure that the name is available for domain and social media use. While the domain name and social media accounts or pages do not have to have the same name as the business, it is better for marketing purposes. If another person or entity is already using the name, a prospective business owner can choose another name to register at the state level or use a different name that describes the business for the domain name and social media accounts.
A business that has an internet presence has an advantage over those that do not, even if the business does not sell its products and services online. A website offers low-cost advertising, especially a site that often has new content.
To determine name availability for a domain name, navigate to a domain registry such as GoDaddy. Enter the business name in the search box. The system will advise as to availability.
If the name is available as a dot-com, we recommend registering the dot-com, dot-net, and dot-org extensions so that another person cannot use the same name with another extension.
If a domain name is not available
If the name is not available as a dot-com but is available as a dot-net, we recommend choosing a different name. It is too easy for customers to become confused and end up on a competitor’s website.
Check if the social media name is available
Checking social media platforms for name availability is as simple as entering the business name in the search box. If the name is available, create an account for the business as soon as possible. If not, choose a different name – sometimes, a descriptive name brings in more hits than the business name.
If a business owner wishes to have the same name registered for the state, the business owner can check a different name with the New Hampshire Department of State, the domain registry, and social media platforms.
Naming considerations for New Hampshire business entities
New Hampshire requires most entities to have naming conventions, including appending certain words, phrases, or abbreviations after the business name.
Sole proprietorships and partnerships
A sole proprietorship or general partnership does not have to register with the New Hampshire Department of State. Thus, they do not require appending an entity type at the end of the name. However, the business name must include the surname or partners’ names.
If a business owner wishes to operate under a different name, he must register the trade name with the New Hampshire Department of State. Before registering the trade name, search the Department of State’s database with the search tool to ensure the name is available.
Limited Liability Companies (LLCs)
A business owner who chooses to incorporate as a limited liability company must append one of the following to the end of the business name:
- Limited liability company.
A business owner who chooses to incorporate as a corporation must append one of the following to the end of the business name:
Limited liability partnerships
A business owner who chooses to incorporate as a limited liability partnership must append one of the following to the end of the business name:
- Limited liability partnership.
A business owner who chooses to incorporate as a limited partnership must append one of the following to the end of the business name:
- Limited partnership.
Additionally, the name cannot contain a limited partner’s name unless the limited partner is also a general partner, or the general partner became a limited partner and the business name previously included the name of the limited partner.
How are business licenses obtained in New Hampshire?
New Hampshire does not require a general business license. Instead, certain industries must obtain a license or permit at the state level. Local jurisdictions might require businesses to obtain a license or permit to do business in the county or city.
Does my business need a registered agent?
If the business is registered with the New Hampshire Department of State, it must have a registered agent. The registered agent ensures the business remains in compliance with state registration laws. The agent also accepts service of process and other legal documents from the Department of State and other government entities.
Does my business need a Federal Employment Identification Number?
If the business has employees, it must have a Federal Employment Identification Number (FEIN). Even if a business does not have employees, certain banks, creditors, and vendors might require the business to obtain a FEIN before doing business. A business owner can apply for a FEIN himself, or we can obtain the FEIN for the business.
Does my business have to file an annual report?
Every business that is registered with the New Hampshire Department of State must file an annual report or risk being administratively dissolved. Business owners can file annual report from their online accounts.
What number do I need to file an annual report?
A business owner cannot use a FEIN or Social Security number to file the annual report. The business owner must use the file number (entity number) assigned by the New Hampshire Department of State when the business owner originally registered the business. A business owner can locate the file or entity number by logging into her account.
How do I find the status of my business registration?
Visit your online account, call (603) 271-3246, or email [email protected]. The business owner will need to provide the business name, the date the business owner filed the application and the method by which the business owner filed the application.
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