How to form an LLC in New Hampshire in 6 easy steps
So, you have a wicked good business idea? First, you have to deal with legal stuff like forming an LLC. But wait, just what is an LLC?
An LLC or limited liability company is a popular business structure that grants entrepreneurs personal liability protection along with the chance to reduce their tax burden. Unlike sole proprietorships, LLCs protect the small business owner’s assets from being taken if the business is found liable in a lawsuit.
In this step-by-step guide, you’ll learn just how to start an LLC, so you can save yourself time, avoid headaches, and get your business off to a rock-solid start in the Granite State.
1. Check if your business name is available
Before buying the domain name, you should probably check if the name’s available with the New Hampshire Secretary of State. Of course, your name must be unique, so here are the rules of what the state considers distinguishable. Fortunately, the state has made it pretty convenient to register your LLC name by going to its name search website.
Once you’ve found a unique name, you’ll also have to put an identifier at the end of your business name, such as:
- Limited Liability Company
- Or similar abbreviations
If you’re not quite to the step in the New Hampshire LLC formation process where you’re ready to register your business, you can still protect your name with an Application for Reservation of Name. You may hold the name for a maximum of 120 days once you pay the $15 state filing fee.
Some entrepreneurs may desire a business name different from their New Hampshire LLC name. If you want to use a business name other than your LLC’s name, you may want to create a Trade Name (also called a DBA, Doing Business As name). To do so, you must file an Application for Registration of Trade Name and pay the $50 filing fee to the Secretary of State.
2. Appoint your New Hampshire registered agent
New Hampshire requires all LLCs to appoint a registered agent. A registered agent is a person or even a third-party business that receives important tax and legal documents, subpoenas, summons, and service of process on behalf of your LLC.
Here are the requirements for a registered agent in New Hampshire:
- The agent must live in New Hampshire and be 18 years of age, or the agent must be a registered agent service located in the state.
- The agent must have a physical address in New Hampshire (not a P.O. box).
- The agent must be open for regular business hours at the listed physical address to be available for service of process.
You can be your own registered agent as a business owner and list your place of business as the registered office. However, many entrepreneurs choose against this, especially if they work from site to site like a landscaper, work outside of normal business hours, or want to avoid harming their reputation by potentially being served with customers present.
3. Write your operating agreement
An operating agreement is a document that outlines how your business will function as well as rules, regulations, member responsibilities, ownership rights, and how you’ll split profits and losses.
Unlike in some states, New Hampshire limited liability companies are not required to have an operating agreement, but it’s still advisable to avoid future legal headaches. Running your business without LLC operating agreement may cause:
- Your LLC to be subject to state rules that are not necessarily applicable to your business if you’re involved in a lawsuit.
- Members or owners to misinterpret their roles or responsibilities, and there may be potential lawsuits if an owner leaves the business.
- Your personal liability protection to be reduced.
4. File your New Hampshire Certificate of Formation
When you’re ready to create your LLC, you’ll need to file a Certificate of Formation (also called Articles of Organization in other states). Again, you can file online through the Secretary of State’s website. Or you can download a copy of the Certificate of Formation, fill it out, and hand-deliver or mail it to the Secretary of State.
The mailing address is:
New Hampshire Department of State
107 N Main St, Rm 204
Concord, NH 03301-4989
You should include a few things in your Certificate of Formation to make the process go smoothly. Make sure your business address has a street address and not a P.O. box. Also, if your mailing address differs from your business address, be sure to give the proper address.
As for turnaround time, you can complete the process in under 2 hours if you go down to the Secretary of State’s office in person. Expect the online filing to take anywhere from 3 to 7 business days, and filling by snail mail can take as long as 3 weeks. The filing fee is $100, regardless of how you file.
Additionally, suppose you’re setting up a foreign LLC. In that case, that is one organized outside New Hampshire, instead of a Certificate of Formation, you’ll need to file an Application for Foreign Limited Liability Company Registration.
Along with the completed application, you must send a Certificate of Good Standing or Certificate of Legal Existence from your foreign LLC’s home state. The certificate must be dated 60 days or less before the filing date of your application.
According to New Hampshire law, you’ll still want to ensure your foreign LLC’s name is available and distinguishable. If your New Hampshire business’s name is already taken, you can adopt a trade name or DBA for your foreign LLC.
The turnaround time is the same for foreign LLCs and in-state LLCs, and the filing fee is also $100.
5. Pay your taxes
You just started the business, and you already owe taxes? It’s not likely that you’ll owe Uncle Sam money on day one, but it’s wise to get set up to pay in the future. And before we get bogged down in the details, there’s one piece of good news to celebrate: New Hampshire is one of a handful of states that has no sales tax.
Unless you run a single-member LLC and don’t plan to hire employees, the first step in the process is to get your employer identification number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The EIN (also called the federal tax identification number) is a unique number that operates similarly to your social security number. EINs are free and available immediately from the IRS website.
You’ll need an EIN for your business entity’s federal taxes. And it’s also necessary to open a business bank account, register permits and business licenses, build business credit, and file state taxes.
In particular, LLCs have pass-through taxation, meaning the LLC’s profits or losses “pass through” to the owners or members and can be reported on owners’ income tax returns. By default, the government taxes single-member LLCs like sole proprietorships and multi-member LLCs like partnerships. However, you may also choose to file as a C-corporation or S-corporation. Depending on your type of business, this could present potential tax savings or result in double taxation.
Also, if you have questions about business taxes, you can visit the New Hampshire Department of Revenue Administration’s website. Finally, if you still need help, you might want to contact a tax professional to address concerns that relate to your industry and specific business situation.
6. Wrap up other regulations and requirements
You’ll be required to obtain specific permits and business licenses based primarily on your location and type of business. Two common licenses are:
- General business licenses. New Hampshire doesn’t mandate business licenses at the state level. Instead, local municipalities and cities are responsible for licensing.
- Professional licenses. Certain businesses require a license, such as accountants, architects, barbers, chiropractors, electricians, engineers, midwives, pharmacists, physicians, real estate agents, and veterinarians.
Once you’re all licensed and ready to go, you’ll need to file your annual report after some time. Each year’s due date is April 1st, and the state fee is $100. You can file your annual report at the Secretary of State’s website.
Get LLC insurance in minutes by following these steps
The only thing sweeter than a “fluffa nuttah” is the day you open your business and receive that first dollar. It’s the culmination of jumping through all the paperwork-related hurdles, so you can get your LLC ready to go. One more thing you’ll have to do is get LLC insurance to protect your business. Huckleberry makes that easy when you follow these steps:
- Visit Huckleberry.com and click the “Instant Estimate” button. In just a few minutes, you can get quotes for various insurance coverage types that suit your business needs.
- Type in your industry so Huckleberry knows exactly what insurance options may be right for you.
- Answer a few simple questions about your new LLC, including payroll estimates, revenue projections, and more. We won’t make you fill out tons of forms or do any tough calculations, we promise.
- In less time than it takes to drink a cup of coffee, Huckleberry will provide you with quotes for multiple small business insurance options.
- You can use our quick estimator to get a ballpark figure if you're in a rush. Shopping specifically for workers’ comp coverage? Use our calculator to find out how much you’ll have to pay.
Forming your New Hampshire LLC involves some sweat equity. But as any entrepreneur knows, hard work is just a part of the deal. Besides, you picked an LLC structure to protect your personal assets, so why not extend that protection by checking out small business insurance?
Whether you need a general liability policy for your retail location or workers’ comp coverage for the employees you plan to hire, Huckleberry has your back. In fact, many entrepreneurs can get an affordable quote in as little as 60 seconds. So try Huckleberry today for the peace of mind that puts you one step closer to profits.