Step-by-Step Guide to Forming an LLC in New Hampshire

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New Hampshire LLC Quick Facts

How much does it cost to form an LLC in New Hampshire?

Initial LLC Filing Fee

 

  • Filing by mail – $100
  • Online filing – $102
  • In-person filing – $125

 

Recurring Fee: Annual Report – $100

How long does it take to get an LLC in New Hampshire?

  • Filing by mail – up to 3 weeks
  • Online filing – 3-7 business days
  • In-person filing – 2 hours or less

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Quick Reference

The Limited Liability Company (LLC) is a popular entity structure for businesses starting in New Hampshire.  The LLC provides personal liability protection and has the potential to save money on taxes. With our step-by-step guide, you can learn how to form an LLC in New Hampshire yourself without an attorney.

Unlike a sole proprietorship or partnership where the small business owner can be held personally liable for lawsuits against the business, the LLC is a separate legal structure, protecting the business owner’s personal assets.

Related: How Does an LLC Protect You?

Besides the liability protection, the Limited Liability Company provides several other benefits over the sole proprietorship, partnership, and corporation because of the multiple tax options, ease of administration, and management flexibility.

Cost to Start a New Hampshire LLC

To form a New Hampshire Limited Liability Company, file the Certificate of Formation with the New Hampshire Secretary of State, Corporation Division.  The LLC filing fee is $125 when filing in person, $102 when filing online, and $100 when filing by mail.

Approval for the LLC typically takes less than 2 hours when filing in person, one week when filing online, and up to 3 weeks when filing by mail.

If you have questions, contact the New Hampshire Secretary of State.
603-271-3246

Steps to Form a New Hampshire LLC

The steps for filing in person, online, or by mail are largely the same.  The screenshots will show how to file online.

Forming an LLC can be both affordable and is something most people can do themselves. Entity formation companies like IncFile or IncAuthority help guide you through the process and make sure there are no mistakes.

Related: Should you use a Formation Service, Hire an Attorney or Do it Yourself?

Step 1: Create an Account with the Secretary of State

  • Begin by creating a QuickStart account with the New Hampshire Secretary of State.
  •  After the account is created, log in to the site.

Step 2: Create the LLC

  • First, click on “Create a New Business.”

Instead of creating a new company, an out-of-state LLC wanting to do business in New Hampshire will have to register as a foreign LLC by filing an Application for Foreign Limited Liability Company Registration with the New Hampshire Secretary of State.

  • Then select “I am creating a new Domestic Business/Trade Name (D/B/A).  A new menu will appear where you will choose “Limited Liability Company.”

Step 3: Business Name

Enter the name you want for the LLC.  The LLC’s name also has to differ from other entity names registered with the Secretary of State.  Check on available New Hampshire LLC names before filing to be sure the one you want is available.

Additionally, the name of the LLC must include one of the following designators at the end of the business name:

  • Limited Liability Company
  • L.L.C.
  • LLC
  • or similar abbreviations

A comma may be used after the business name and before the designator.  “Cowboy Cleaners LLC” and “Cowboy Cleaners, LLC” are both acceptable.

Before settling on a name, you may want to see if a domain name is available in order to have a matching website address.

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.

If you plan to use a different name from the one that you register (perhaps you want to run multiple businesses under the LLC), you can use a Trade Name (sometimes referred to as a DBA, Doing Business As name, fictitious business name, or assumed name).  To register a Trade Name, file the Application for Registration of Trade Name (Form TN-1), along with the $50 filing fee with the Secretary of State.

New Hampshire LLC Name Registration

Business Name Reservation – There is an option to enter a name that was previously registered with the Secretary of State.  There isn’t a requirement to have done so before filing and if that is the case, select “No” and continue.

 

Step 4: Principal Purpose

This section is asking for information regarding the activities of the business.  To do that, there is a number called NAICS (North American Industrial Classification System).  This code is a six-digit number that classifies and categorizes the different industries.   Find your NAICS number here or use the drop-down menu.  If your business doesn’t fit any of the selections, just select “Other” and continue.

 

Step 5: Registered Agent

A New Hampshire Registered Agent must be identified before forming the LLC.  The Registered Agent can either be a resident of New Hampshire (Select “Individual”), a Not-For-Profit (Select “Not-For-Profit”) or a Resident Agent service (Select “Business” to find the address that is registered with the Secretary of State).

If you are using a Registered Agent Service, enter their information in the “Search Agent Name” field and select the entry for that firm.  If it’s an individual or a company that isn’t listed, select “Create Agent” and enter their information.

The agent must have a physical address in the state (PO Boxes are not allowed) and act as a point of contact to receive legal documents, tax notices, summons, subpoenas, etc. on behalf of the LLC.

You are not required to pay for a registered agent. Any individual meeting the requirements can be the agent; however, the agent’s name and address become public record, and with that comes a loss of privacy. This is more important for some entrepreneurs, especially when doing business from home or still employed.  Hiring a company like Northwest Registered Agent to be the Registered Agent will reduce unwanted phone calls and mailings.

 

Step 6: Manager/Member Information

This section asks if the LLC is Member-Managed or Manager-Managed.

Member-Managed LLCs have an active involvement in the management of the LLC.
Manager-Managed LLCs are hired by the members to run the LLC, similar to a CEO of a corporation.

Most LLCs are member-managed.

 

Step 7: Duration

In this section, you can indicate how long it will remain in existence.  Most LLCs will choose a Perpetual duration; however, some businesses (usually investment-related) will have a specific closure date.

 

Step 8: Business Email Address

Enter an email address for someone in the LLC that will be responsible for saving the formation documents.

Step 9: General Upload

In this section, upload any required licensure certificates (required for a Professional LLC or PLLC), consent letters, or pertinent documents like rules for the LLC operation.  This is an optional section and not used by most LLCs.

Step 10: Principal Office Information

Business Address – In this section, enter the street address, city, state, and zip code of the initial principal office.  This address can be the LLC’s physical address, or it can be the address where the business records are stored.  This address does not have to be in New Hampshire, but you may not use a PO Box.

Mailing Address – If there is an address that is preferred for mail to be sent by the Secretary of State that is different from the Business Address, enter it here.  Otherwise, click the box for “Same as Business Address.”

Step 11: Certify

Click the box and certify that the information entered is correct.

There is also an opportunity to delay the start of the LLC. If you want the LLC to start on today’s date, check the LLC selection to be “effective on the date/time of electronic submission” or select a date less than 90 days in the future to start.

 

Step 12: Signature

Have a manager, member, or appointed LLC organizer sign the Certificate of Formation.  Enter this person’s title and name.

 

Step 13: Review

Review that all of the information is correct.  If there are no corrections, click the checkbox that says “I acknowledge that the information provided above is true and correct,” then click “Next Signature(s)”

 

Step 14: Pay and File

Pay and file the Certificate of Formation.

If filing online, the Certificate of Formation will be approved in less than one week.

If filing in person, take to the Secretary of State’s office at:
Corporation Division, NH Department of State
107 N Main St, Rm 204
Concord, NH 03301-498925

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Tasks After Forming Your LLC

Once the LLC has been formed, there are a few additional steps to take care of. Below is a list of the most common tasks.

Prepare a New Hampshire LLC Operating Agreement

The operating agreement is a document that governs the framework of an LLC.  This document covers items like ownership rights, member responsibilities, how profits and losses are distributed and more.

Most states do not require an LLC to have an operating agreement, but it is still worth considering. Without an operating agreement:

  • The LLC could be subject to generic state rules that may be detrimental in the event of a lawsuit
  • Member’s personal liability protection may be diminished.
  • Members may not fully understand their roles and responsibilities, which could lead to costly disputes in the future.

Related: New Hampshire operating agreement template.

Obtain an EIN

The EIN or Employer Identification Number (also called a Federal Employer Identification Number, FEIN, or Federal Tax Identification Number) is a unique 9-digit tax identification number assigned to a business by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Similar to a social security number for an individual, the EIN identifies business entities for tax purposes. The EIN will be needed to hire employees, open a bank account, build business credit, register for business licenses and permits, file federal and state taxes, and more.

There is no cost for the EIN when registering through the IRS. The number is available immediately when applying through the IRS website; however, you can also register by phone, fax, or mailing IRS Form SS-4.

Related: How to Apply for an EIN

Elect the LLC’s Form of Federal Income Taxation

One of the significant benefits of the Limited Liability Company is the tax flexibility it provides.  When applying for the Employer Identification Number, you will choose how the entity will be taxed for federal income tax purposes. While there are some limitations, an LLC may be classified for federal income tax purposes as a:

  • Sole proprietorship
  • Partnership
  • C-corporation
  • S-corporation

While this may sound confusing, this refers to how the LLC is taxed, not the legal structure.

Related: How can an LLC be taxed?

By default, the taxation of an LLC is called pass-through taxation, which means the profits or losses of the LLC flow through to the members.

Single-member LLCs will, by default, be taxed as a sole proprietorship. The members can also elect to change the taxation to a C-corporation or an S-corporation.

Multi-member LLCs will, by default, be taxed as a partnership. The members can also elect to change the taxation to a C-corporation or an S-corporation.

In general, the difference between being taxed as a corporation and being taxed as a sole proprietorship or partnership the profits and losses are passed to the member’s federal income tax returns based on their percentage of ownership.  As a result, the owner will pay self-employment taxes on all business profits.  As an alternative, electing to be taxed as a corporation allows the members to take a reasonable salary and then pay payroll taxes.  Any remaining profits are distributed and aren’t subject to payroll taxes, resulting in potential tax savings.

Before electing how your LLC will be taxed, consider talking with an accountant to assess which one will be best for you. Some tax elections, such as the C corporation, may be detrimental for some people due to double taxation.

Open an LLC Bank Account

Opening a bank account for your LLC is important for liability protection as the account separates the business’s funds from the member’s personal funds.

Several documents will be needed to open a business bank account, such as:

  • A banking resolution is a document that authorizes the members to open a business bank account on behalf of the LLC.
  • Copies of the original formation paperwork from the state showing the creation of the LLC.
  • Driver’s licenses of the members.
  • Occasionally the bank may request a New Hampshire Certificate of Good Standing to prove the LLC is active and in good standing with the state.

Related: How to Open a Business Bank Account for your LLC 

Apply for Business Licenses and Permits

Depending on what your business does and where it is located, there will likely be various business licenses and permits needed before starting your business. Some common registrations include:

  • Business License – All businesses operating in the State of New Hampshire are required to register with the New Hampshire Secretary of State’s Office.  Additionally, some cities also require businesses to obtain licensing before they can start.
  • Professional License – Certain services such as barbershops, accountants, hunting and fishing guides, and others must be licensed.

Related: What Business Licenses are Needed in New Hampshire?

Get Business Insurance

Even with the liability protection of the LLC, business insurance is important to protect the business. The most common types of insurance include:

General Liability Insurance – covers damages owed and medical expenses for accidents that happen at your place of business.
Business Property Insurance – replaces damaged, stolen, or lost business property. This includes your physical business location, equipment, supplies, and anything else you used to run your business.
Business Vehicle Insurance – covers company vehicles and may also include coverage for personal vehicles used for business-related activities. Many personal policies won’t cover your vehicle if there is an accident while being used for business purposes.
Workers Compensation Insurance – mandatory in most states if you have employees, this insurance covers medical expenses that occur because of an accident or injury that happens to one of your employees while they’re at work.

Related: 7 Types of Insurance Your Business May Need

File Annual Reports

LLCs are required to file an annual report with the New Hampshire Secretary of State.  The annual report is due by April 1st of each year and there is a state fee of $100, or $102 if filing online.

Related: How to File a New Hampshire LLC Annual Report

 

Common Questions When Starting An LLC

You can act as your own registered agent, provide you are a resident of the state and are generally available during normal business hours. 

It’s sometimes thought that the LLC and business license are the same, which they aren’t.  Business license requirements vary by location and the type of business being operated. 

An out-of-state LLC wanting to do business in another state will have to register as a foreign LLC with the new state’s Secretary of State.

Businesses that require state licensing and offer professional services such as accountants, attorneys, podiatrists, physical therapists, acupuncturists, etc. often must file as a Professional Limited Liability Company (sometimes referred to as a Professional LLC or PLLC) instead of an LLC. Filing for a PLLC is very similar to that of the LLC.

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