You have big plans, but before your business can officially take off, you’ll need to make a bit of an investment.
And we’re not talking about renting office space or paying employees — before you sell a single product, there are startup costs associated with launching an LLC in New Hampshire.
Make sure that you consider all the possible costs associated with starting an LLC. To help you out, we’ve compiled the most common New Hampshire startup fees here.
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Overall New Hampshire LLC Formation Costs
LLC Name Reservation Fee
You don’t need to reserve a business name before starting your LLC, but it can be a useful tool if you aren’t ready to file the Certificate of Formation yet. You can protect any available name for 120 days by paying $15 and filing an “Application for Reservation of Name.” The Certificate of Formation automatically registers a business name, so if you’re ready to start your LLC, it saves time and money to skip the name reservation and move on to the formation documents.
To clarify, most states don’t require name reservations, and they’re rarely necessary. If you’re concerned about someone else registering the name you want, you could opt to simply form your LLC instead of reserving the name.
Whether you reserve your business name or not, you should always perform a New Hampshire business name search to make sure the name you want is available.
Certificate of Formation Fee
This is the big one, the most important (and most expensive) form that you’ll file to start your New Hampshire LLC. Filing the Certificate of Formation puts your LLC on record with the Secretary of State, giving it authority to do business in the state. No Certificate of Formation, no business. This filing comes with a $100 fee and you can file it online or on paper. You only file the Certificate of Formation once, so you won’t need to pay this $100 again.
The information you’ll need to file your Certificate of Formation includes the official business name of your LLC, your LLC’s principal office address, your LLC’s principal mailing address (if different from your principal office address), a description of your LLC’s business purpose, the name and address of your registered agent, the names and addresses of your LLC’s managers and/or members, the date, and your name, title, and signature.
Before we move on, we’ll mention that if you’re forming a professional LLC in New Hampshire, you’ll need to use a specialized version of the Certificate of Formation. For further information, consult our full guide to forming a New Hampshire professional LLC.
Business and Professional Licenses
Even after you’ve filed the Certificate of Formation, your LLC might need additional licenses before commencing business in New Hampshire, although the type and cost of licensure depend on what kind of business you’re doing. For example, barbers must obtain licensure through the New Hampshire Board of Barbering, Cosmetology, and Esthetics. On top of that, your city or county may have its own licensing requirements. Your LLC may or may not need licenses, but you’ll want to check with the New Hampshire Employment Security and your local government to see which (if any) you need to obtain.
What are some of the most commonly required business licenses for New Hampshire LLCs? If your business operates in a regulated industry, you will probably need some sort of professional license to operate in compliance with state law. On the municipal level, things like alarm permits, building permits, and zoning permits are all very common.
LLC Formation Service
Starting an LLC in New Hampshire can be a complicated and time-consuming process. If you want to spend less time on paperwork and more time planning your business, you might opt for LLC services. These services take care of the registration process for you, so you don’t have to spend time on research, paperwork, and filings.
Most of these services (like ZenBusiness or Northwest) offer basic LLC formation services like Articles of Organization filing, tax consultations, and phone/email support for a flat rate, with options to pay more for premium packages with premium services like Employer Identification Numbers, operating agreements, and expedited filing.
Registered Agent Service
Appointing a New Hampshire registered agent is an important part of your LLC formation process. Your registered agent is responsible for handling sensitive legal and tax documents and keeping your business compliant with New Hampshire business law. In short, you need an agent you can trust.
While you can be the registered agent for your own LLC, this puts pressure on you to keep up with business filings and potential legal disputes. Sometimes it’s better to hand off that responsibility to a professional. A registered agent service ensures that your annual reports and other forms are filed efficiently, saving you from the penalties of delinquent filings and the stress of having to do it yourself.
If you have questions or concerns about the LLC formation process or if it’s the best business structure for you, sometimes it’s best not to take chances and consult an attorney. They’re not cheap, but they can provide essential business advice, professional filing assistance, and peace of mind.
Some attorneys offer free consultations (usually 30-60 minutes) but will charge by the hour after that. On average, business attorneys charge between $150-350 per hour. Some will offer a flat rate for setting up an LLC, which can range from $500-2,000.
Cost variations depend on the experience and location of the lawyer. Doing a little research will help you determine a good fit for your LLC. Using a site like Avvo can help — it provides a database of New Hampshire business attorneys, sortable by location, rates, areas of expertise, and more. By searching, comparing, and analyzing your options, you can be sure you’re hiring the best fit for your company.
If you don’t want to go digging for your own attorney, we compiled the following list of highly rated business lawyers in New Hampshire. All of these attorneys are primarily focused on the business world, they all receive five-star ratings from clients, and they all have excellent Avvo ratings.
Foreign Qualification Fee
This only applies if your LLC was formed in another state and is now expanding into New Hampshire. If your LLC is from out of state, you will file the “Application for Foreign LLC Registration” instead of the Certificate of Formation.
All foreign business entities are required to foreign qualify in New Hampshire, or they could incur some pretty severe penalties. To avoid these penalties, submit an Application for Foreign LLC Registration online or using a paper form. It comes with a $100 filing fee, the same as the Certificate of Formation, and this is a one-time filing and fee.
LLC Annual Fees
Every LLC operating must pay a few one-time fees, like the Certificate of Formation or a name reservation, but there are also recurring fees, namely the annual report. Each year, your LLC must file an annual report between Jan. 1 and Apr. 1. The fee is $100, and you’ll pay it every year, so you can write it into your annual budget. Annual reports are available to file online.
The information required to file your annual report includes your LLC’s official business name, your LLC’s business ID number, a description of your LLC’s principal business purpose, the name and address of your registered agent, your LLC’s principal business address, your business email address, the names and addresses of your LLC’s managers and/or members, and your signature.
For more info on annual reports for New Hampshire LLCs, check out our full article on this topic!
LLC taxes at the federal level are simple. They’re considered “pass-through” entities, so instead of filing a corporate tax return, the LLC’s owners and members report income and losses on their own personal returns. LLC state taxes aren’t bad either, because New Hampshire doesn’t have an income or sales tax.
The state does, however, require all business entities to pay a Business Enterprise Tax and a Business Profits Tax each year. The Business Enterprise Tax is 0.75% of a company’s value tax base, which is “the sum of all compensation paid or accrued, interest paid or accrued, and dividends paid by the business enterprise.” It’s only required for businesses with over $108,000 in gross receipts. The Business Profits Tax is 8.5% of all income your LLC made from its business activities within the state, but only if that number is higher than $50,000.
In addition, an LLC with employees must pay an unemployment insurance tax on top of the other required taxes. You can register for it here.
What if I Don’t Pay?
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Looking at all these fees, you might be thinking: how can I pay less? While you might be tempted to look for loopholes or find a way around them, this could cause you bigger problems in the future.
Failing to submit required filings and fees will result in monetary and business penalties. The most common filing to miss is the annual report. There’s a $50 late fee if you file your report later than Apr. 1. If you have an outstanding annual report, your LLC will lose its good standing with the state, which means that it can’t foreign qualify in most other states, apply for some business loans, renew professional licenses, and more. If you miss two annual reports in a row, the state will administratively dissolve your LLC and you will be prohibited from doing business in New Hampshire.
Late or missed taxes also come with serious penalties, although they’re dependent on the type amount, and the number of days overdue. See here for more information.
Planning Your Expenses
By now, your budget spreadsheet might be looking a little crowded, but have no fear! Most of these are one-time fees that you won’t have to worry about again. Plus, with all these on the books, there won’t be any surprise costs when you register an LLC in New Hampshire.
Soon, you’ll have these fees behind you and you’ll be forging ahead, growing your business and earning profits. As you do, make sure to keep up with the few recurring fees — like Annual Reports, Business Enterprise Taxes, and Business Profits Taxes — so your business doesn’t fall out of good standing.
Key Steps for Starting a New Hampshire LLC
- The first step to forming a New Hampshire LLC is to come up with a good name for your business. You’ll want to make sure the name you want is still available and hasn’t already been claimed by another business, so you’ll need to search the state’s business database to verify its availability.
- Next, you’ll need to choose your registered agent. While you can legally serve as your own registered agent in New Hampshire, this role can actually be more of a hassle than you might expect. That’s why we always recommend hiring a reputable registered agent service that can handle the responsibility of this position on your behalf.
- The third step involves the preparation and filing of your Certificate of Formation. You’ll need to fill out the paperwork and pay a $100 fee. Once the state processes this document, your LLC will be officially open for business!
- That’s not the end of the road for the startup process though, as you’ll also need to create an operating agreement for your LLC. There is no legal requirement for New Hampshire LLCs to have written operating agreements, but it’s still an extremely important element of any LLC. The operating agreement is an internal document that outlines how your LLC will operate, and there are several aspects of this document that can prevent messy ownership disputes down the line.
- You will also need to acquire a federal tax ID number (also known as an EIN, or employer identification number). This is essentially a Social Security number for your business, as it is a nine-digit code used to file taxes, hire employees, open business banking accounts, and more.
- Next, you’ll need to register for any relevant taxes with the New Hampshire Department of Revenue Administration, and also obtain all licenses and permits that apply to your business type. Keep in mind that, depending on the nature of your business, you might require licenses from the federal, state, county, and municipal governments.
Once you’ve finished all of these steps, you’re ready to operate a compliant business entity with the state of New Hampshire!
Key Steps for Maintaining a New Hampshire LLC
After you’ve completed all of the items in the previous section, you’ll need to focus on maintaining your LLC. The first step in this process is to open a business bank account. This will help you keep your business and personal expenses entirely separate, and it will also help immensely with your accounting and taxation responsibilities.
You should also keep detailed records of every financial transaction that takes place with your LLC. This means maintaining a file of invoices for every purchase and sale you make, along with information regarding your employees or contractors and the work they perform for your business.
As we already mentioned, annual reports are a key component of LLC maintenance in this state, and there are harsh financial penalties for delinquent reports. Additionally, you might want to hold an annual meeting to discuss goals and priorities for your LLC, although this is an optional step.
Frequently Asked Questions
Before we wrap things up, let’s take a look at some of the most common questions we hear from readers regarding the LLC formation process in New Hampshire.
What are the state business tax rates in New Hampshire?
The state of New Hampshire does not have income taxes for businesses or individuals. However, as we already mentioned, the state uses the Business Enterprise Tax (0.75% of a company’s value tax base, which is “the sum of all compensation paid or accrued, interest paid or accrued, and dividends paid by the business enterprise”) and Business Profits Tax (8.5% of the income generated in the state, as long as that exceeds $50,000) as alternative revenue sources.
How quickly does New Hampshire process LLC formations?
The Secretary of State should be able to process your LLC’s online formation within 3-7 business days. However, mailed filings can take up to three weeks.
How many small businesses are there in New Hampshire today?
The state of New Hampshire is home to nearly 135,000 small businesses. Entrepreneurs of all backgrounds and business types find that New Hampshire is a great place to own and operate a small business.
What are the top small business resources and websites in New Hampshire?
The New Hampshire chapter of the Small Business Development Center is a great place to start, as they offer a wide variety of tools and resources for New Hampshire LLCs. The U.S. Small Business Administration’s New Hampshire District Office is another valuable resource, and the state’s small business resource page also has plenty of good info.
Should I form my LLC in New Hampshire, or choose a state like Delaware or Wyoming?
Some people like to form their LLCs in states with favorable legal settings. For instance, Delaware is often seen as the most business-friendly state, as it has an entire court system that’s dedicated solely to business matters. As for Wyoming, this state has some of the most generous anonymity laws for LLC ownership.
However, for most people, your best option is to simply form your business in your home state. Forming in a different state can be a tremendous hassle, and it can add some unnecessary complexity to tax issues as well.