Obtaining a Business Certificate
A business certificate is required for: 1). Any person, whether individually or as a partnership, conducting business under any other title other than the complete real name of the owners or 2). any corporation doing business in a name other than its corporate name; the certificate must be completed and filed by a corporate officer. These criteria are delineated per MGL Chapter 110, Section 5 and Chapter 11, Section 6 and can be viewed in this document: Mass General Law Regarding Business Certificate Requirements (PDF)
The application for a business certificate is now started online. After completing the online form, you must print the application document produced by the system. All required signatures must be notarized. You can either have them notarized by an external notary or have them notarized in the City Clerk's office at City Hall at no additional cost.
You will need to present the document to the City Clerk's office along with cash or a check for $100. Alternatively, you can pay the $100 fee online (credit card processing fees will apply). The City Clerk will finalize the document and will provide you with a certified copy.
Businesses that are in a residential property require a letter of authorization from the landlord if the applicant does not own the property.
PLEASE NOTE: The city requires all business locations to be approved by the Building Inspector prior to issuance of a Business Certificate. Also, a business certificate does not give you permission to operate your business; it only registers the name. It is your responsibility to obtain all appropriate permits and/or licenses for your business from the building department, licensing authority, and board of health.
Business Certificate Forms
FAQs about Filing a Business Certificate
Where does one file?
File with the Clerk in every city or town where an office of said business may be situated. Filing a business certificate at the city or town level does not protect your name as a corporate filing or as a trademark does. It merely allows consumers and or creditors to identify the names of the actual owners of a business. This filing is required by law.
What about a change?
Upon discontinuing, retiring, or withdrawing from such business, or in the case of a change of residence of such person or of the location where the business is conducted, a form must be filed with the office of the City Clerk.
Does a business certificate expire?
A business certificate is in full force and effect for four (4) years from the date of issue. A new filing must be made every four years as long as the business is being conducted.
Does the certificate have to be displayed?
No. However, you must provide a copy upon request.