Getting a Massachusetts business license through the Massachusetts Secretary of State allows you to operate your company under the filed name. However, if you'd rather use some other name, you'll need to file with your city or town to get a business certificate, also called a "doing business as," or "DBA."
Each local government in Massachusetts has its own application and filing options, but common steps include providing information about your business, signing the application with a notary and submitting it to the local clerk's office. You'll complete the process every four years to keep the business certificate current.
Understanding a Massachusetts DBA
While you could always just do business under your original name, getting a DBA in Massachusetts can provide some benefits. For example, a sole proprietorship in Massachusetts can get a DBA to establish a local brand and reputation and not need to use its actual name. An umbrella company offering a myriad of services can obtain multiple DBAs to differentiate business activities for financial purposes, establish unique brands and avoid confusion with customers.
When it comes to choosing your name, you can find something creative and suitable for your business and just have a few rules to follow. You'll need to find something unique and check the local business database to make sure you're not taking a name that resembles that of a competing business. You'll also want to be aware of prohibited words. These include words and abbreviations that mention business entity types (like "Computer Works Corporation" for a partnership), and Massachusetts cities may have additional restrictions.
Finding Local DBA Application Information
To learn about the DBA registration process in your Massachusetts location, you'll want to look for your local government's website. You can search for the town or city clerk page and locate an area showing information about local permits and licenses. To find the actual DBA application, look for the option to file a business certificate. You should find a printable DBA application along with detailed instructions and requirements.
Your city or town clerk can provide a paper application if you have no printer. You can often find the address on the page about DBA registration or on the contact page of the municipality's website. You may also have the option to get the application mailed to your business.
Handling the Massachusetts DBA Application
Each Massachusetts town or city has its own DBA application. However, you'll find the need to provide the same type of information regardless of your business's location. These items usually include:
- The name you'd like to use for the business
- The business address and phone number
- Description of business activities
- Names, addresses and signatures of all business owners
- Name, address and phone number of the DBA applicant
A DBA registration application in any Massachusetts town will also require that you provide a notarized signature. This means you'll need to find a notary public locally to do it, or you can head to the town clerk's office with your photo ID during business hours. You'll also need to prepare to pay your area's filing fee with a money order or check. For example, the filing cost is currently $65 for Boston, $50 for Springfield and $75 for Brookline.
Finishing the DBA Registration Process
Depending on your city or town, you may have options to submit your DBA registration application by mail or hand it in personally to the town or city clerk. In either case, expect to show some proof of business ownership and identification along with including your business certificate application.
If you're able to send the notarized DBA application by mail, check your city or town clerk website since the mailing address may differ from the physical office address. You might also consider using a trackable shipping method over regular postage stamps for more security sending the payment and application.
If you're heading to the local office, check the website to verify business hours. Generally, these include only weekdays (excluding holidays) with opening hours between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. and closing hours between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. Note that you may have the option to use a debit or credit card for the filing fee when submitting the application in person.
- hi!my name is....(businessman and his team) image by Alexey Klementiev from Fotolia.com