If you are forming a business in New Hampshire, the first thing you need to do is a business name search. This search checks all the registered business entities in the state to see if the business name you want to use is available. Like all other states, the state of New Hampshire requires each LLC or corporation registered in the state to have a unique business name. So, before starting your business, it’s important to run a business entity search to verify if the name is available through the New Hampshire Secretary of State before registering your LLC or Corporation. There is no fee to search.
How to do a New Hampshire Business Name Search
Step 1: Visit the Business Name Database
Go to the New Hampshire Secretary of State website.
Step 2: Search your Business Name
Enter the name you would like to use under the “Search for a Business Name.” In this example, we will look up “Lawn Envy.”
Step 3: Review Results
Searching the registered names, we get a list of all the businesses with the words “Lawn Envy.” To be able to register a corporation or LLC name in New Hampshire, the name must be distinguishable from the other names registered. If your search comes up with a business name that is exactly like the one you want, be sure to look at the last column named “Status.” If it says anything other than “Good Standing,” you may be able to register it.
In this example, if you were looking to form an LLC named Lawn Envy name, you wouldn’t be able to since there is already one registered.
To find more information about any of the registered business names, click on the link in the “Business Name” column to see a detailed report. In this example, we will look up “Lawn Envy LLC.”
While the name “Lawn Envy” by itself may not be available, other variants are such as “Lawn Envy of New Hampshire” or “Lawn Envy Pros” are. Searching for those business names brings a result that says, “There were no records found.” While final approval is still with the Secretary of State, it is likely available to register.
These are the basics of searching for a business name in New Hampshire. Even when the name of the business you want is available, the Secretary of State will make a final determination at the time of filing to ensure the name you picked isn’t too similar to other registered names.
Something to keep in mind is that even though each Corporation and LLC name must be unique, it may not stop someone else from using that name since business names for a sole proprietorship or partnership are not registered by the Secretary of State and are not required to be unique. To protect your business name, consider getting a trademark.
Related: Should I trademark my business name?
What information can be looked up in the name database?
The database search can find several pieces of information about the business. Some of the highlights include:
- Business Name
- Entity type – Corporation, Limited Liability Company. Etc.
- Management Style – Used for LLCs, choices would either be Member-Managed or Member-Managed.
- Business Creation Date – Date the entity formally started.
- Principal Office Address – This could be the business’s physical address, or it could be an address where business records are stored.
- Business Status – Good Standing means all reports and filing fees are up to date. Other results include “Expired,” “Withdrawn,” “Admin Dissolution,” or “Dissolved” The names of these results may be available to register.
- Registered Agent’s information – A Registered Agent is the singular point of contact for the entity should a legal, or tax notice need to be sent to the business. This is often one of the owners, and if their home address is used, that address becomes public information. Many people find this concerning and use a Registered Agent service like Northwest Registered Agent, so their home address isn’t publically listed.
- You also have access to the Certificate of Formation (LLC), Articles of Incorporation (Corporation), and Annual Reports.
How to Register a Trade Name (Sole Proprietorships and Partnerships)
A sole proprietorship or partnership operating their business under a name that is different from the owner’s legal name will register for a Trade Name, which is also known as “Doing Business As,” DBA, Assumed Name, or Fictitious Business Name.
Before starting a sole proprietorship or partnership, a name search will be needed before selecting a name.
What are the requirements to name an LLC in New Hampshire?
In addition to the name being unique, the name of the LLC must include a special designator such as Limited Liability Company, LLC, L.L.C., etc., in addition to not using restricted words such as bank or insurance, unless the entity is licensed to operate as such.
Can an LLC name be reserved?
If there is a name you want but are not ready to register the LLC, you can file the Application for Reservation of Name with the asdf Secretary of State. The name reservation will hold a name for up to 120 days, at the cost of $15.
How do I form a New Hampshire LLC?
Before starting your business and forming an LLC, be sure to do the business entity search first to make sure the name is available to use. Once you know the LLC name is available, learn how to form a New Hampshire LLC by reading our step-by-step guide on filing the Certificate of Formation.
While not required in New Hampshire, an Operating Agreement, which are the rules for how the LLC operates, is a document worth considering, especially for multi-member LLCs.
After forming a Limited Liability Company, be sure to get an Employer Identification Number (EIN). This is a “social security number” for the business. There is no cost to get one through the IRS.
Also, be sure to check for New Hampshire business licenses and permits to make sure the business is legal to operate.