Updated November 11, 2020:

A New Jersey Certificate of Authority is needed if you are intending to begin your own business in the Garden State. To get the ball rolling, make sure you register with the state a minimum of 15 days prior to your opening. Fortunately, this can be accomplished online; doing so will ensure that the state is able to send you all of the appropriate forms regarding filing your state taxes. (Generally, it takes 2-3 business days for an application to be processed, but you will need to allow time for the physical certificate to be mailed to you; for an additional $25, you can receive expedited service.)

While you can use your social security number on your application, it is advisable to obtain a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) from the Internal Revenue Service, which can also be obtained online by visiting the IRS website, where you will find the pertinent information for completing an SS-4.

Regardless of whether you choose to use your social security number or FEIN, ensure you put this number on any and all correspondence or paperwork filed with the State of New Jersey.

Should your business be expanding into additional states, while you will not need separate FEIN’s for each location, you will need to ensure that each new space is registered with each respective state. If your business is expanding in New Jersey, having already been incorporated in another state, ensure that you request permission from the state prior to beginning your business operations in the state. It is worth noting that you will need to have a physical address in New Jersey to file for and obtain your New Jersey certificate of authority. Additionally, if you are acquiring an already-established business, you will need to notify the state a minimum of 10 days in advance.

Lastly, ensure that you are following the instructions provided thoroughly and correctly. You certainly do not want your application to be held-up or denied (potentially creating a delay as to when you may legally begin doing business in New Jersey) due to incomplete or incorrect paperwork.

What You Will Need

Provided you are not already incorporated in another state, what will you need to get your certificate of authority in New Jersey? Fortunately, it is fairly straightforward; you will need the following information:

  1. FEIN, along with your business or entity name
  2. SSN, along with your name
  3. Type of Ownership (is your business an LLC, partnership, sole proprietorship, etc).
  4. If you have partners or corporate officers, their information (names, addresses, etc).
  5. Information regarding the nature or mission of your business. (It is worth noting that should the nature of your business change, you will need to file amended paperwork with the state).

Who Needs a New Jersey Certificate of Authority?

You may be wondering if it is really necessary for you to obtain a certificate of authority in New Jersey. Some basic guidelines to answer this include:

  1. Your business earns income from retail (clothing stores, bookstores, hardware stores and the like).
  2. You are providing a direct service to clients or customers, such as massage therapy, hair or nail salons, etc.
  3. You are operating a bar or restaurant.
  4. You are operating a business that rents goods or services, such as hotel, motel, or bed and breakfast. This also includes the rental of storage units.
  5. You are a private investigator.
  6. You provide private security for homes or businesses.
  7. You are involved with the servicing (installation, repair, etc.) of real property. (plumbers, electricians, carpenters, among others).

There are any number of other circumstances under which someone should obtain a certificate of authority in New Jersey, so it is always best to consult with an attorney to ensure that you are operating your business in accordance with both state and federal laws. Utilizing the services of an attorney will also ensure that you are maintaining compliance as state and federal laws are subject to change, and it may not be in your best interest, as a business owner, to attempt to stay on top of all of those changes at all times.

Another reason as to why it is always wise to work with an attorney who specializes in New Jersey-based businesses is that in addition to filing with the state, some jurisdictions will require filing information with the county, as well.

If you need help with New Jersey certificates of authority, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel’s marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law, and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.