Massachusetts LLC, Business License, Incorporation: Overview

A Massachusetts business license is a requirement for doing business in the state of Massachusetts.

Recently, Massachusetts has enacted a variety of reforms that are intended to make it easier to do business in this state.

A variety of industries call Massachusetts home, including:

  • Health care.
  • Technology.
  • Higher education.
  • Emerging sectors such as the creative economy.

The twelfth-largest economy in the country can be found in this state, and many major corporations have established their headquarters in Massachusetts, including Mass Mutual and Staples. Small businesses are vital to this state's economy, employing over 1.4 million people.

There are a variety of licenses, permits, and registrations that you may need to acquire before starting a business in Massachusetts. You may need to register your business with individual cities if you wish operate within their limits.

On the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development website, business owners can find important information about running a small business in Massachusetts. Step-by-step instructions for starting a business in Massachusetts can be found in the Starting a Business section of the website. Additional information is available with the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center Network (MSBDC). With the MSBDC, you'll have access to training and advisory services that can make it easier to start and run your business.

When applying for your Massachusetts business license, you will need to:

  • Provide your business name.
  • Include your address and other contact information.
  • List the names of all owners.
  • Have your application notarized.

Incorporation Process in Massachusetts

Selecting a unique name that is not being used by another company is the initial step for registering your business in Massachusetts.

In this state, you cannot use a name that is either identical or similar to the name of an existing business. However, if you obtain permission from the other company, you can use a similar name.

Massachusetts does not allow businesses to use registered service marks or trademarks. The purpose of a service mark, trade name, or trademark is to identify the services or goods provided by your business, or your business itself.  However, these different marks can be registered with the state. Reference the About Trademarks and Service Marks page on the Secretary of State website for further information.

When registering a corporation in Massachusetts, you must include the words "Corporation", "Incorporated", or "Limited" in your corporation's name. Your are also allowed to use abbreviations of these words. You cannot use the name of your corporation to imply that your reasons for organization differ from those found in your articles of organization.

By paying a $30 fee, you can reserve your corporation's name for sixty days. When this reservation period ends, you can add sixty additional days by paying another $30 fee.

Once your company name has been verified, you should submit your articles of organization to the Massachusetts Secretary of Commonwealth.

The following information should be included with your filing:

  • Corporate information.
  • Stock.
  • The date.

The purpose of your corporation and its name is considered corporate information. Although you can list a specific purpose, you can also list "engaging in any lawful business."

Corporations in Massachusetts are required to authorize stock. In your filing, you should list the number of shares available, the value per share, and if there will be different classes of stock. If you only plan to use a single stock series or class, you need not need to list a stock designation. The owner of the business must also include information about any limitations or rights of shares, as well as restrictions placed on share transferring.

The date you should list is the date that your articles of organization will be received by the State of Massachusetts. You can specify the date at a later time, but this cannot be more than ninety days from the date when your articles were filed.

You will need to provide supplemental information when registering your business in Massachusetts.

Supplemental information can include:

  • Your corporation's directors and officers.
  • The current fiscal year.
  • A description of your corporation.
  • Your address and records address.
  • Contact information.
  • Incorporators.

Your registered agent will accept official correspondence mailed to your business, and they must possess a physical street address in the state of Massachusetts.

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