Register your business

You’ve got a great idea and you’re taking the plunge — you’re ready to hang the open sign for your new business in Massachusetts. First, you need to register it.

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The Details

Overview

Whether you’re setting up a plumbing company or launching a tech startup, you may have to register your business with the federal, state, and local governments. The type of business structure you have will determine the steps you need to take.

Fees

You have to register your business with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the state Department of Revenue (DOR) to file to pay your taxes. If you pay employees who work or live in Massachusetts, you also have to register with the Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA). There is no cost to register.

You also have to form or register to do business with the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s Corporations Division if your business is:

  • A limited liability company (LLC)
  • A limited partnership or limited liability partnership
  • A corporation
  • A business trust

The filing fees vary from $200 for a limited partnership to $500 for an LLC.

Your business can’t have the same (or a very similar) name as another business operating in Massachusetts. You can reserve a name before forming or registering with the state by filling out a name reservation form and paying a $30 fee.

If the name of your business is not the same as your real name, you will also have to file a “Doing Business As” (DBA) certificate in the city or town where your business is based. The fee varies depending on the community. For example, it’s $65 in Boston and $50 in Worcester.

How to

There are different ways to register your business with federal, state, and local authorities.

Register with the IRS

If you have employees, or if your business is a corporation or partnership, you need an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS. You will need an EIN for other transactions, such as registering with DOR. You can apply:

          Internal Revenue Service
          ATTN: EIN Operation
          Cincinnati, OH 45999

It takes 4 weeks to process an EIN request by mail.

  • Download and fill out an application for an EIN.
  • Fax it to (855) 641-6935
    • If you include your fax number, an EIN will be faxed to you within 4 business days.

Register with the Secretary of the Commonwealth

To register your business with the Corporations Division, you will need some basic information:

  • Name of your business
  • Address where your office is located
  • The names of your officers, directors, managers, trustees, general partners, or authorized persons
  • Nature of your business

To register, domestic businesses file a formation document with the Corporations Division. Corporations file articles of organization. LLCs and limited partnerships file a certificate of organization.

You can register your business:

  • Access the online filing system and follow the instructions for a new business.
  • Pay your fee with an electronic check or credit card (Visa, MasterCard, or American Express).

Filing by fax is a 3-step process.

          Secretary of the Commonwealth
          Corporations Division
          1 Ashburton Pl.
          17th Floor
          Boston, MA 02108

          Secretary of the Commonwealth
          Corporations Division
          1 Ashburton Pl.
          17th Floor
          Boston, MA 02108

Register with DOR

You will also have to register your business with DOR through MassTaxConnect, the Commonwealth’s online business tax portal. Follow the instructions under quick links to register a new business.

You will need:

  • Your federal EIN
  • Legal and mailing addresses
  • Start date for your business
  • Contact information for your business officers, including their titles and Social Security numbers

Register with DUA

If you pay employees who work or live in the state, you must register your business with and report quarterly wage data to DUA. You can register as an employer through UI Online for employers.

You will need:

  • Type of business, such as sole proprietor, partnership, or LLC
  • DBA name
  • EIN
  • State and date of formation or incorporation
  • Date employees first worked in Massachusetts
  • Owner/officer information, including Social Security number, EIN, percent of ownership
  • Principal business activity in Massachusetts
  • Quarterly gross summary of wages paid to date
  • Number of employees

Once you register your business, you’ll get an 8-digit Employer Account Number and a UI Online user ID and password.

Register with local government

The city clerk or town clerk in the community where your business is located has information about filing a DBA.

The DBA form varies, but in general you will need:

  • The name your business will operate under
  • Basic information about the people who run the business

More info

You may also need to provide proof that you have the licensing and permits you need to do your work.

All businesses that form with the Corporations Division have to file an annual report to the Secretary’s office, which keeps your company information up to date.

Forms

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