Last Updated: June 7, 2024, 10:20 am by TRUiC Team

How to Start an LLC in Massachusetts (2024 Guide)

Wondering how to start an LLC in Massachusetts

To get started, you'll need to pick a suitable business name, choose a registered agent, and file your Certificate of Organization with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts ($500-$520 processing fee). 

You can do this independently, consult with a business attorney for specialized legal guidance, or join the other 65% of our readers and hire a specialized Massachusetts LLC formation service (recommended).

four point eight out of five

Northwest ($29 + State Fees)

three point nine out of five

LegalZoom ($249 + State Fees)

Cost to Start an LLC in Massachusetts

How to Form an LLC in Massachusetts in 6 Steps

In order to form your LLC in Massachusetts, there are certain steps you’ll need to complete:

  1. Name your Massachusetts LLC
  2. Choose a Resident Agent
  3. File the Certificate of Organization
  4. Create an LLC Operating Agreement
  5. Get an EIN
  6. File a Beneficial Ownership Information Report

Step 1: Name Your Massachusetts LLC

Before you get started, you will need to pick a suitable name for your Massachusetts LLC. 

This will need to comply with all applicable naming requirements under Massachusetts law and be both succinct and memorable, as this will make it easily searchable by your potential clients.

1. Important Naming Guidelines for Massachusetts LLCs:

  • Your name must include the phrase “limited liability company,” “limited company,” or one of the following abbreviations: “LLC, L.L.C., LC, L.C.” 
  • Your name cannot include words that suggest or imply that it is sponsored by or affiliated with a state or federal agency (e.g., State, FBI, etc.). 
  • Your name cannot be the same (or deceptively similar) as the name of any other business entity registered within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
  • Your name cannot contain certain restricted words (e.g., Medicine, Trust, Architect, etc.) without prior written approval from the relevant state agency. 

For more information, have a look at Massachusetts’s statutory LLC naming guidelines

2. Is the name available in Massachusetts?

To check whether your desired name has already been taken by another business entity in Massachusetts, you can choose to conduct a business entity search on the Corporation Division’s website. 

If you’re not going to start your LLC right away, it might be a good idea to consider reserving your name for up to 60 days. You can do this by filing an Application of Reservation of Name with the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and paying the $30 filing fee. 

For more information, you can have a look at our Massachusetts LLC Name Search guide.

3. Is the URL available?

We recommend that you check online to see if your business name is available as a web domain. Even if you don't plan to create a business website today, you may want to buy the URL in order to prevent others from acquiring it.

Find a Domain Now

Once you have verified your name is available, you may now select a professional service to complete the LLC formation process for you.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel

If you need additional information before getting started, you can have a look at our in-depth comparison of the Best LLC Services in 2024 instead.

FAQ: Naming a Massachusetts LLC

LLC is short for "limited liability company". It is a simple business structure that offers more flexibility than a traditional corporation while still providing legal protection for your personal assets. Read What is a Limited Liability Company for more information.

Watch our video: What is an LLC?

You must follow the Massachusetts LLC naming guidelines when choosing a name for your LLC:

  • Include the phrase "limited liability company" or one of its abbreviations (LLC or L.L.C.).
  • Do not use words that could confuse your business with a government agency (FBI, State Department, CIA, etc.).
  • Receive the proper licensing when using the words such as lawyer or doctor.

If you are having trouble coming up with a name for your LLC, use our LLC Name Generator. That will not only find a unique name for your business but an available URL to match.

Most LLCs do not need a DBA, known in Massachusetts as a business certificate. The name of the LLC can serve as your company’s brand name and you can accept checks and other payments under that name as well. However, you may wish to register a DBA if you would like to conduct business under another name.

To learn more about DBAs in your state, read our How to File a DBA guide.

Step 2: Choose a Resident Agent in Massachusetts

After you find the right name for your LLC, you will need to nominate a Massachusetts resident agent. This is commonly known as a registered agent in states outside of Massachusetts and is a necessary step in your Certificate of Organization (i.e., the document used to file and register your LLC with the Commonwealth).

What is a resident agent? A resident agent is an individual or business entity responsible for receiving important tax forms, legal documents, notice of lawsuits, and official government correspondence on behalf of your business. You can think of your registered agent as your business’s primary point of contact with the state.

Who can be a resident agent? A resident agent must be a resident of Massachusetts or a business entity that is authorized to operate in the state. In practice, this can be yourself or a different LLC member, a registered agent service, or a business attorney. 

Keep in mind that your resident agent will need to sign the Consent of Resident Agent section of your Certificate of Organization in order to be appointed.

Get Free Registered Agent Services

Form an LLC with Northwest Registered Agent to get one year of registered agent services free of charge.

FAQ: Nominating a Registered Agent

Yes, as long as you are a resident of the state. 

Having said that, you should keep in mind that your resident agent will need to be physically present in their registered office during normal working hours in order to comply with Massachusetts law (e.g., in order to receive service of process, etc.), and so this is generally not recommended.

For more information, we recommend having a look at our being your own registered agent article.

Generally speaking, yes. 

A registered agent service can be a great way of having a third party handle your LLC’s formation and/or registered agent needs without needing to rely on a business attorney (which is often too expensive for new business owners).

Step 3: File the Massachusetts LLC Certificate of Organization

To create an LLC in Massachusetts, you will need to file the Certificate of Organization with the Secretary of the Commonwealth. You can do this online, by mail, by fax, or in person. Professional limited liability companies can only file using a paper form.

Massachusetts LLC Formation Document

Before filing, you will need to make sure that you have completed your Certificate of Organization correctly. The following information will need to have been filled out: 

  • The exact name of your LLC
  • The street address of your registered office
  • The “general character” of your LLC (i.e., it’s business purpose)
  • Your LLC’s date of dissolution (if applicable)
  • The full name and street address of your initial resident agent
  • The names and business addresses of all LLC managers (if different from office location specified above)
  • The names and business addresses of all persons authorized to execute, deliver, or acknowledge real property of the LLC (e.g., real estate, etc.). 
  • Your contact information (including your phone number and email).

File the Certificate of Organization

OPTION 1: File Online With the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

File Online

- OR -

OPTION 2: File by Mail, by Fax, or In Person

Download Form

State Filing Cost: $500 by mail and $520 online or via fax, payable to The Commonwealth of Massachusetts (Nonrefundable)

Filing Address:
William Francis Galvin
Secretary of the Commonwealth
One Ashburton Place, Room 1717
Boston, MA 02108

Fax: (617) 624-3891

Note: Fax filings must include a cover sheet.

For help with completing the form, visit our Massachusetts Certificate of Organization

Note: If you're expanding your existing business to the state of Massachusetts, you'll need to register as a foreign limited liability company (LLC).

FAQ: Filing Massachusetts LLC Documents

Filing the Certificate of Organization can take four hours online post-payment or four to five business days by mail. Expedited filings are also available.

An LLC is referred to as a "domestic LLC" when it conducts business in the state where it was formed. A foreign limited liability company must be formed when an existing LLC wishes to expand its business to another state.

Read our What is a Foreign LLC article to learn more.

The cost of filing your Certificate of Organization in Massachusetts is $500. 

Having said that, the total cost of starting an LLC in the state can be higher depending on several factors, including on how you go about filing.

To learn more, read our guide on the cost to form a Massachusetts LLC.

Step 4: Create a Massachusetts LLC Operating Agreement

A Massachusetts LLC is not required to have an operating agreement, but it's a good practice to have one.

What is an operating agreement? An operating agreement is a legal document outlining the ownership and operating procedures of an LLC.

Why are operating agreements important? A comprehensive operating agreement ensures that all business owners are on the same page and reduces the risk of future conflict.

For more information on operating agreements, read our Massachusetts LLC operating agreement guide.

FAQ: Creating a Massachusetts LLC Operating Agreement

No. The operating agreement is an internal document that you should keep on file for future reference. However, many other states do legally require LLCs to have an operating agreement in place.

Step 5: Get an EIN for Your Massachusetts LLC

You can get an Employer Identification Number (EIN), also known as a Federal Employer Identification Number, from the IRS for free. It is used to identify a business entity and keep track of a business’s tax reporting. It is essentially a Social Security number (SSN) for the company.

Why do I need an EIN? An EIN number is required for the following:

  • To open a business bank account for the company
  • For federal and state tax purposes
  • To hire employees for the company

Where do I get an EIN? An EIN is obtained from the IRS (free of charge) by the business owner after forming the company. This can be done online or by mail.

FOR INTERNATIONAL APPLICANTS: You do not need an SSN to get an EIN. Learn more here.

Get an EIN

Option 1: Request an EIN from the IRS

Apply Online

- OR -

Option 2: Apply for an EIN by Mail or Fax

Download Form

Mail to:
Internal Revenue Service
Attn: EIN Operation
Cincinnati, OH 45999

Fax: (855) 641-6935

Fee: Free

FAQ: Getting an EIN

An SSN is not required to get an EIN. You can simply fill out IRS Form SS-4 and leave section 7b blank. Then call the IRS at (267) 941-1099 to complete your application. Learn more about applying as an international applicant.

All LLCs with employees, or any LLC with more than one member, must have an EIN. This is required by the IRS.

Learn why we recommend always getting an EIN and how to get one for free in our Do I Need an EIN for an LLC guide.

When you get an EIN, you will be informed of the different tax classification options that are available. Most LLCs elect the default tax status.

However, some LLCs can reduce their federal tax obligation by choosing the S corporation (S corp) status. To learn more, read our LLC vs. S Corp guide.

Step 6: File a Beneficial Ownership Information Report

Beginning January 2024, LLC owners will need to file a Beneficial Ownership Information (BOI) Report with the US Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). Existing LLCs can file their report any time between January 1, 2024, and January 1, 2025, while new LLCs will need to file their report within 90 days of formation

This contains similar information to that of your Articles of Organization, such as your LLC name and member information, and can be filed online for free. Failure to file an accurate report on time can result in a $500 per day fine.

Note: There are certain filing exemptions, such as for large companies (i.e., more than 20 full-time employees), tax-exempt entities, and publicly traded companies. 

Considering Using an LLC Formation Service?

We reviewed and ranked the top LLC formation services. Find out which is best for you.


Maintain Your Massachusetts LLC

After you’ve successfully formed your LLC, there are a couple of steps you’ll need to periodically take in order to maintain it, including:

  • Submitting an annual report
  • Sorting out your taxes

We’ve broken down how to complete each of these steps in greater detail below.

File the Annual Report

Every LLC (including both domestic and foreign LLCs) must file an annual report with the Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth Corporations Division. This report demonstrates your LLC’s continued compliance with state regulations and keeps the public record updated with your LLC's information.

This annual report is due each year alongside a $500 fee by mail ($520 for online or fax) by the anniversary of the date you initially registered your LLC with the state. You can submit your LLC’s annual report with the Massachusetts Corporations Division online, by mail, by fax, or in person.

Note: Failing to file your annual report on time incurs a $50 penalty for each month the report is overdue and even the administrative dissolution of your company (if the report remains unfiled for extended periods). This means your LLC will cease to exist as a legal entity, which can be difficult and expensive to reverse.

Sort Out Your Taxes

Regardless of where your LLC is registered, you will be required to pay certain federal taxes. This includes corporation and employer taxes (for LLCs filing as a C corporation), and federal income tax and self-employment taxes (for LLCs taxed as pass-through entities).

In addition, there are a number of different taxes you’ll be required to pay at a local and state level, which can vary depending on the nature of your business.

Below are some of the most common taxes in Massachusetts:

Income Taxes

In Massachusetts, there are two key types of state-level income taxes your LLC may need to pay in addition to its federal obligations. These include: 

  • Personal Income Tax: If your LLC is filing under default status in Massachusetts, its members will need to pay individual state income tax at a flat rate of 5% on the distributions they take from the company’s revenue. This tax can be filed using Form 1: Massachusetts Resident Income Return.
  • Corporate Excise Tax: LLCs opting to file as C corps in Massachusetts must pay corporate excise tax. This is set at a flat rate of 8% of your business’s taxable net income in addition to a measure of your LLC’s tangible property or taxable net worth (whichever is greater) levied at a rate of $2.60 per $1,000. You’ll need to pay this tax electronically using MaxTaxConnect.

Sales and Use Taxes

Massachusetts' sales tax is levied at a rate of 6.25% on the sale, rental or use of tangible personal property within the state. Unlike many other states, there are no additional local sales taxes to worry about.

You'll file a return and make your tax payment every month, quarter, or year depending on how much sales tax you collect. Regardless of how frequently your LLC needs to submit sales tax, the deadline will always be 30 days after the end of the filing period — whether that’s a month, quarter, or year.

Note: If your LLC will be selling a taxable good or service, it will need to register for a seller's permit with the Massachusetts Department of Revenue through the MassTax Connect website before it gets started.

How to Start an LLC Tip Icon

Steps After LLC Formation

After forming your LLC, you will need to get a business bank account and website, sort out any required business licenses, and get business insurance, among other things. 

Visit our After Forming an LLC guide to learn more.

Related Articles

Massachusetts Business Resources