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New Hampshire Business License Basics

New Hampshire Business License Basics

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New Hampshire Business License Basics

Starting a small business in New Hampshire often means registering with several federal, state, and local agencies. Let’s review common New Hampshire business license registrations so your business starts off right.

Related: Guide to starting a business in New Hampshire 

Setting Up the Business

Sole proprietorship: In New Hampshire, a sole proprietorship is an unincorporated business owned by a single individual. The owner has complete control over the business but is personally liable for all debts and obligations. No formal registration is required, making it the simplest and most common form of business structure.

General partnership: A general partnership in New Hampshire is an unincorporated business owned by two or more individuals who share management responsibilities, profits, and losses. Partners have unlimited personal liability for the partnership’s debts and obligations. No formal registration is required, but a partnership agreement is recommended to outline the roles and responsibilities of the partners.

Corporation: A corporation in New Hampshire is a legal entity separate from its owners, providing the owners (shareholders) limited liability protection. Corporations are the most complex business structure, with specific administrative requirements. 

Limited Liability Company (LLC): An LLC in New Hampshire combines aspects of sole proprietorships and corporations, offering flexibility in management and taxation. Owners, called members, have limited personal liability for the LLC’s debts and obligations but don’t have as many administrative requirements of the corporation. 

Related: Comparison of Business Structures

What Licenses Do New Hampshire Businesses Need?

With the business structure out of the way, we can begin looking at the different types of registrations businesses in New Hampshire may need. There isn’t a standard business license, as requirements vary depending on where the business is located and what it does. Here is a general overview of the different registrations your business may need.

New Hampshire State Business Registration

All businesses operating in New Hampshire are required to register with the New Hampshire Secretary of State‘s Office.

Local Business License

Many cities require businesses to be licensed in order to operate. Rules for business registration vary depending on location and what the business does. Below are a few cities that have general business license requirements.

  • Manchester: The Business Licensing and Enforcement Division of the Office of the City Clerk issues licenses to several types of businesses, such as food service establishments, second-hand dealers, tattoo and body piercing establishments, and several others.
  • Nashua: Businesses operating within city limits, such as pawnbrokers, places of amusement, and others will need licensing from the Nashua City Clerk.
  • Concord: A business license in Concord is needed for certain types of businesses, such as food service, second-hand dealers, tattoo artists, and others.
Take the guesswork out of figuring out what licenses and permits are required to start your business with license research packages from Bizee and LegalZoom.

For as little as $99, you can save a lot of time and know your business is in compliance with local, state, and federal requirements. 

Trade Name Registration

While not a business license, it’s common for Sole Proprietorships and Partnerships operating under a business name that is different from the full name of the owner(s) to register for a Trade Name (also known as a Doing Business As, DBA, or Fictitious Business Name) with the New Hampshire Department of State’s Office.

Building & Zoning Permits

Zoning: Businesses should check zoning restrictions so their intended business activities comply with local zoning ordinances. In New Hampshire, zoning information can be obtained from the local planning and zoning department.

Building Permit: Building permits in New Hampshire are necessary for construction or significant alterations, ensuring structures meet safety and code standards. Apply through the local building department, which reviews plans for code compliance.

Signage Permit: Before putting a sign on the exterior of a building, businesses must typically obtain sign permits, which regulate the size, location, and design of signs. In New Hampshire, sign permit applications are typically submitted to the local building department or planning department. The permitting process varies by municipality, so businesses should consult their local authorities for specific requirements and procedures.

Occupational License

A variety of occupations in the state are regulated and need to be registered before offering certain services. A few common professions that require licensing in New Hampshire include; accountants, barbers, body artists, hunting & fishing guides, manicurists, and many more. Additional information, fees, and licensing requirements for professions are available from the New Hampshire Department of Employment Security.

In addition to professional licenses from the Department of Employment Security, businesses in a variety of industries, such as food establishments, daycares, auto recyclers, and many others, also require licensing.

Employer Identification Number (EIN)

Many businesses will register with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for an EIN (also referred to as a FEIN, Federal Employer Identification Number, or Federal Tax ID Number). The EIN is the business equivalent for a Social Security Number for an individual.

Learn how to apply for an EIN

Next Steps

These are some of the most common business licenses a new business in New Hampshire will need to register for. Be advised that while it’s a good start, there are so many different licenses that may be needed, be sure to double-check with the City Clerk’s Office, Chamber of Commerce, and/or Economic Development office in your area before opening your doors.

New Hampshire Business License Basics

New Hampshire Business License Basics

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