You have a big idea, truckloads of ambition, dreams of a thriving New Hampshire LLC, and you’re mentally prepared to make it happen.
But the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu once said, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” and for you, that first step is filing the Certificate of Formation.
With such grand plans, the last thing you might want to do is file paperwork, but completing the Certificate of Formation is what authenticates your LLC, making it official in New Hampshire. It’s perhaps the most important step in starting your New Hampshire LLC. Following this guide will help take the tedium out of paperwork and get your business started quickly.
But before you dive into the Certificate of Formation, you should have a few pieces of information ready to help streamline the process.
Recommended ✔If you want to make sure your LLC is formed correctly, hire an LLC service. Below are the top two that will take care of all the legal paperwork:
If getting the most value out of an LLC service is your priority, choose ZenBusiness. They charge one of the lowest rates online and include all the most important features when starting a business. Read Review. If you're on a strict budget and prefer using the cheapest LLC service, choose IncFile. They will form an LLC for free (plus state filing fee) and give you great features along the way. Read Review.
If getting the most value out of an LLC service is your priority, choose ZenBusiness. They charge one of the lowest rates online and include all the most important features when starting a business. Read Review.
If you're on a strict budget and prefer using the cheapest LLC service, choose IncFile. They will form an LLC for free (plus state filing fee) and give you great features along the way. Read Review.
Choosing an LLC Name
Before anything else, you will need to decide on an LLC name. You must include a business name on your Certificate of Formation, and if the Secretary of State deems that name unacceptable or unavailable, the document will be rejected, so make sure you nail down a good name right away.
Before choosing a name and running with it, confirm that it complies with the state’s business name requirements. It must include the term “Limited Liability Company,” “L.L.C.,” “LLC,” or a similar abbreviation. Additionally, it must be distinguishable from every other business name already on record with the Secretary of State. How do you determine if your name is already in use? Perform a name search using the state’s Business Search function.
Once you’ve found your perfect name, include it on your Certificate of Formation to automatically register it. In the event that you’re not quite ready to file an LLC, you can place a 120-day hold on your name by submitting a name reservation request.
IMPORTANT: Don’t forget to get your business domain name so nobody else can use it. This will protect your brand and make things much easier for you down the road. Secure it easily through GoDaddy.
Choosing a New Hampshire Registered Agent
A registered agent is your LLC’s liaison to the state, the mediator who takes care of all your important legal, tax, and compliance documents, keeping your business in good standing. Every New Hampshire LLC must designate an initial registered agent on their Certificate of Formation before submitting it. Otherwise, it won’t be accepted.
There are plenty of registered agent options available. You can appoint an individual, as long as they are a New Hampshire resident or a business entity – like a registered agent service – provided they are authorized to do business in the state. You can even take on the role yourself if you’re prepared for the added responsibilities.
Quick Note: If your first choice doesn’t work out, don’t worry. You can always change your registered agent in the future.
Preparing to File Your New Hampshire Certificate of Formation
Now for the main event: the Certificate of Formation. Here’s your opportunity to get your LLC officially on record and authorized to conduct business in New Hampshire.
The Certificate of Formation is the most crucial document in your LLC’s formation process, yet it’s surprisingly short and simple. You’ll only need a few pieces of information to complete it, so gather them beforehand and you’ll breeze right through. Here’s what you will need:
- The LLC name
- Principal office address and mailing address (if different)
- Business phone number and email address
- The LLC’s business purpose
- Registered agent name and address
- Whether the LLC is managed by members or managers
- Member or manager names addresses, and titles
That’s all! Unfortunately, the Certificate of Formation isn’t free. It costs $100, so be ready to pay this fee with a check or credit card when you file.
Appreciate the simplicity of online filing? Prefer the reliability of leaving a paper trail? Either way, The Secretary of State has a filing option for you. You can submit your Certificate of Formation online, by mail, or in person.
Take care of the entire process online through the state’s NHQuickStart filing portal. You will need to create an account if you haven’t done so already. After you’re logged in, click “Business Services,” then “Create a Business Online,” and finally “I am creating a new Domestic Business/Trade Name.” Select Limited Liability Company from the dropdown box and follow the instructions to complete the form. Your filing will be processed in 3-7 business days.
Download, complete, and print a hard copy of the application. After you fill it out, mail it, with your payment, to:
Corporation Division, NH Dept. of State
107 N Main St, Rm 204
Concord, NH 03301-4989
Mailed filings take somewhat longer to process, approximately 1-3 weeks.
Or, if you live in Concord, you can hand-deliver your finished form instead. Drop it off at the State House Annex, 3rd Floor, Rm 317 at 25 Capitol St. Forms delivered in person incur an additional $25 expedited charge, but are processed while you wait.
What About Foreign LLCs?
The process outlined above works for domestic LLCs (those formed in New Hampshire), but what if your business is expanding to New Hampshire from another state? Disregard the Certificate of Formation, as it’s not the form for you.
Alternatively, you will need to foreign qualify your LLC by filing an Application for Foreign LLC Registration either online or as a hard copy. Do this before conducting any business activities in New Hampshire. If you jump the gun, your LLC might end up facing serious fines and penalties.
But after you’ve successfully foreign qualified, you’re free to kick off business activities in the state.
Want Help Filing Your Certificate of Formation?
Let’s be honest: you’ve got a lot on your plate. Filing paperwork can take time away from your other tasks, ones more focused on setting your budding LLC up for success.
The good news is that you don’t need to file the Certificate of Formation yourself. But if an attorney is out of your price range, hiring an LLC creation service is a great option.
There’s no shortage of business incorporation services out there, but not all of them are equal. Each one offers different packages, costs, and processing times, so it’s important to find the right fit for your LLC.
While each service has optional upgrades and perks packages, on the most basic level, they will review your business information, prepare your formation documents, and submit them to the New Hampshire Secretary of State. They will complete everything outlined in this guide and notify you when your Certificate of Formation has been filed. You won’t have to lift a finger.
There are other benefits too. Some services will include a year of free registered agent service when you hire them. Other services offer order tracking, notifications on future documents (like Annual Reports), assistance drafting your operating agreement, or coverage of certain LLC formation costs.