What is a business certificate?
Commonly referred to as a “ D.B.A.” (doing business as), a business certificate establishes a public record of the name and address of the owner(s) of a business.
Who must file a business certificate?
Massachusetts General Law Chapter 110 Section 5 states that any person conducting business in the Commonwealth under any other than the real name of the person conducting the business, whether individually or as a partnership, shall file (a certificate) in the office of the clerk of every city or town where an office of any such person or partnership may be situated.
Under Chapter 100 Section 6 a business certificate is not required if a corporation is doing business under its true corporate name, of if a partnership is doing business under any title which includes the true surname of any partner. Certain other associations and partnerships may also be exempt. Please refer to the above Section 6 for details.
The business certificate forms can be downloaded from this site or are available at the Town Clerk’s office.
- Each person named on the certificate as an owner must sign in person at the Town Clerk’s office or in the presence of a Notary Public.
- Fee is $40, payable at time of filing.
- The certificate is good for four (4) years. The certificate must be renewed every four years as long as the business is still active.
Discontinuance or relocation of a business
A Business Certificate Change form must be filed with the Town Clerk’s office if of any of the following occurs:
- Business is discontinued
- One or more of the persons named on the certificate withdraws or retires from the business or partnership
- One of more of the persons name on the certificate dies
- Change of address of one or more of the persons named on the certificate
- Change of the location of the business
Penalty for failure to file a business certificate
The requirement to file a business certificate is State Law (MGL Chapter 110, Section 5. Failure to do so is punishable by a fine up to $300.00 per month of violation.
Helpful information on starting a business in Massachusetts can be found on the Mass.gov website under Housing and Economic Development.