How to Form an LLC in Massachusetts

Cost to Start an LLC in Massachusetts

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Setting up an LLC in Massachusetts is easy

To form an LLC in Massachusetts you will need to file your Certificate of Organization with the Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth, which costs $500. You can apply online or by mail. The Certificate of Organization is the legal document that officially creates your Massachusetts Limited Liability Company.

Follow the step-by-step guide below to start your Massachusetts LLC today and get your business up and running.

Steps to start an L L C in Massachusetts

STEP 1: Name your LLC in Massachusetts

Choosing a company name is the first and most important step of setting up an LLC in Massachusetts. Be sure to choose a name that complies with Massachusetts naming requirements and is easily searchable by potential clients.

1. Follow the naming guidelines:

  • Your name must include the phrase “limited liability company” or one of its abbreviations (LLC, LC, L.L.C., or L.C.).
  • Your name cannot include words that could confuse your LLC with a government agency (FBI, Treasury, State Department, etc.).
  • Restricted words (e.g. Bank, Attorney, University) may require additional paperwork and a licensed individual, such as a doctor or lawyer, to be part of your LLC.
  • Your name must be distinguishable from any other Massachusetts limited liability company, corporation, or limited partnership.

For a complete list of naming rules in Massachusetts, visitMassachusetts Guidelines & Restrictions.

2. Is the name available in Massachusetts? Make sure the name you want isn't already taken by doing a Massachusetts LLC search on the Secretary of the Commonwealth's website.

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

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After registering a domain name, consider setting up a professional email account (@yourcompany.com). Google's G Suite offers a business email service that comes with other useful tools, including word processing, spreadsheets, and more. Try it for free

Not sure what to name your business? Check out our LLC Name Generator.

FAQ: Naming a Massachusetts LLC

What is an LLC?

LLC is short for Limited Liability Company. It is a simple business structure that offers more flexibility than a traditional corporation while providing many of the same benefits. An LLC is one of several business structures, such as a sole proprietorship, partnership, and corporation (C corp and S corp). For more information, read our What is an LLC guide.

Watch our video: What is an LLC?

Do I need to get a DBA or Trade Name for my business?

Most LLCs do not need a DBA. 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

You are required to appoint a Massachusetts resident agent for your LLC. A resident agent is more commonly known as a registered agent in other states.

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. Think of your registered agent as your business's point of contact with the state.

Who can be a resident agent? A resident agent must be a resident of Massachusetts or a corporation, such as a registered agent service, authorized to transact business in Massachusetts. You may elect an individual within the company including yourself.

Recommended: ZenBusiness provides the first year of registered agent service free with LLC formation ($39 + State Fees)

FAQ: Nominating a Resident Agent in Massachusetts

Can I be my own resident agent in Massachusetts?

Yes. You or anyone else in your company can serve as the resident agent for your Massachusetts LLC. 

Read more about being your own resident agent.

Is a registered agent service worth it?

Using a professional Registered Agent service is an affordable way to manage government filings for your Massachusetts LLC. For most businesses, the advantages of using a professional service significantly outweigh the annual costs.

For more information, read our article on Massachusetts resident agents.

STEP 3: Get a Massachuetts LLC EIN

What is an EIN? EIN stands for Employer Identification Number. EINs are a nine-digit number assigned by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to help identify businesses for tax purposes. It is essentially a social security number for a business. 

An EIN is sometimes referred to as a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) or Federal Tax Identification Number (FTIN).

Why do I need an EIN? An EIN is required to:

  • Open a business bank account
  • File and manage Federal and State Taxes
  • Hire employees

Where do I get an EIN? You can get an EIN for free from the IRS. Getting an EIN is an easy process that can be done online or by mail.


Note
FOR INTERNATIONAL EIN APPLICANTS: You do not need a SSN to get an EIN. For more information, read our How to Get an EIN as a Foreign Person guide.

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 a Massachusetts LLC EIN

How do I get an EIN if I don’t have a social security number?

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 here about applying as an international applicant.

What tax structure should I choose for my Massachusetts LLC?

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 4: 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 apply online or by mail. Some states refer to the Certificate of Organization as the Certificate of Formation or Articles of Organization.

Massachusetts LLC Formation Document

The Massachusetts Certificate of Organization for an LLC (limited liability company) is a legal document used to officially form your business. When you file the Certificate of Organization with the State of Massachusetts, you’ll be expected to provide the name of your LLC, choose a resident agent, and pay the LLC formation fee. After you file the Certificate of Organization, we recommend you obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) if you plan to hire employees and open a business bank account. 

Now is a good time to consider whether your Massachusetts LLC will be member-managed or manager-managed. We recommend learning more about member-managed vs manager-managed LLCs before you file.

File the Certificate of Organization

OPTION 1: File Online with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

File Online

- OR -

OPTION 2: File by Mail

Download Form


State Filing Cost: $500 payable to the Secretary of the Commonwealth (Nonrefundable)

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

If you’re expanding your existing LLC to the State of Massachusetts, you will need to form a Foreign LLC.

FAQ: Filing Massachusetts LLC Documents

How long does it take to form an LLC in Massachusetts?

Filing the Articles of Organization can take 4 hours online post-payment, or 4 to 5 business days by mail. Expedited filings are also available.

What is the difference between a domestic LLC and foreign LLC?

An LLC is referred to as a "domestic LLC" when it conducts business in the state where it was formed. Normally when we refer to an LLC we are actually referring to a domestic LLC. A foreign LLC 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.

STEP 5: 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.

A cube with LLC printed on its sides

Recommended: Download a template or create a Free Operating Agreement using our tool.

FAQ: Creating a Massachusetts LLC Operating Agreement

Do I need to file my operating agreement with the state of Massachusetts?

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

Have a question? Leave a comment!

Ask us a question, tell us how we're doing, or share your experiences.
Join the conversation in our Comment Section.

Considering Using an LLC Formation Service?

We reviewed and ranked the top 5 LLC formation services.
Find out which is best for you.

Best LLC Services

Protect Your Business & Personal Assets

Business Banking for Personal Asset Protection

Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.

When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your Massachusetts LLC is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.

You can protect your business with these two steps:

1. Opening a business bank account:

  • Separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
  • Makes accounting and tax filing easier.
A cube with LLC printed on its sides

Recommended: Find the right bank for you, read our review of the Top 5 Banks for Your Small Business

2. Getting a business credit card:

  • Helps you separate personal and business expenses.
  • Builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise capital later on.
A cube with LLC printed on its sides

Recommended: Learn more about the best small business credit cards.

Get Insurance For Your Massachusetts LLC

Business insurance helps you manage risks and focus on growing your business. The most common types of business insurance are:

  • General Liability Insurance: A broad insurance policy that protects your business from lawsuits. Most small businesses get general liability insurance.
  • Professional Liability Insurance: A business insurance for professional service providers (consultants, accountants, etc.) that covers against claims of malpractice and other business errors.
  • Workers' Compensation Insurance: A type of insurance that provides coverage for employees’ job-related illnesses, injuries, or deaths. In Massachusetts, businesses with one or more employees, excluding business owners, are required by law to have workers compensation insurance. Get a free quote with ADP.
A cube with LLC printed on its sides

Learn more about which business insurance you need to keep your business safe.

Get your free personalized quote

Properly Sign Legal Documents

Improperly signing a document as yourself and not as a representative of the business can leave you open to personal liability. When signing legal documents on behalf of your company, you could follow this formula to avoid problems:

  1. Formal name of your business
  2. Your signature
  3. Your name
  4. Your position in the business as its authorized representative

See the image below for an example.

How to properly sign a legal document: 1. Signature 2. Company Name 3. Printed Name 4. A Title

This ensures that you are signing on behalf of your LLC and not as yourself.

A cube with LLC printed on its sides

Learn more on how to protect your business & personal assets by reading our article - How to Maintain your LLC Corporate Veil.

Join the Conversation

We are here to guide you through your entrepreneurial journey, and are always looking at your feedback. Share your experiences in our comment box, chat with other entrepreneurs, or simply let us know how we're doing.

Lets Connect

Keep Your Company Compliant

Massachusetts Business Permits & Licenses

Does my Massachusetts LLC need business licenses and permits?

To operate your Massachusetts LLC you must comply with federal, state, and local government regulations. For example, restaurants likely need health permits, building permits, signage permits, etc.

The details of business licenses and permits vary from state to state. Make sure you read carefully. Don't be surprised if there are short classes required as well.

Fees for business licenses and permits will vary depending on what sort of license you are seeking to obtain.

Find out how to obtain necessary licenses and permits for your business or have a professional service do it for you:

A cube with LLC printed on its sides

Recommended: If you are a first-time entrepreneur, consider having a professional service research your business’s licensing requirements. Our friends at Startup Savant have reviewed and ranked the top five license research services.

Massachusetts LLC Tax Requirements

Depending on the nature of your business, you may be required to register for one or more forms of state tax.

Massachusetts Sales Tax

If you are selling a physical product, you’ll typically need to register for a seller's permit through the Massachusetts Department of Revenue website.

This certificate allows a business to collect sales tax on taxable sales.

Sales tax, also called "Sales and Use Tax," is a tax levied by states, counties, and municipalities on business transactions involving the exchange of certain taxable goods or services.

Read our sales tax guide to find out more.

Massachusetts Employer Taxes

If you have employees in Massachusetts, you will have to register for the Unemployment Insurance Tax through the Division of Unemployment Assistance. Employers will also need to sign up for Employee Withholding Tax through the MassTax Connect platform.

A cube with LLC printed on its sides

Register for Massachusetts State Tax

Sales Tax | Unemployment Insurance Tax | Withholding Tax

Federal LLC Tax Requirements

Most LLCs will need to report their income to the IRS each year using:

How you pay yourself as an owner will also affect your federal taxes. Visit our guide to learn more about how to pay yourself from your LLC.

A cube with LLC printed on its sides

Read our LLC Tax Guide to learn more about federal income taxes for LLCs.

File Your Massachusetts LLC Annual Report

Massachusetts requires LLCs file an annual report with the Corporations Division of the Secretary of Commonwealth. This can be done online or by mail.

File Your Annual Report

OPTION 1: File Online with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

File Online

- OR -

OPTION 2: File by Mail

Download Form


Fee: $500, payable to the Secretary of State (Nonrefundable)

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

Late Filings: Massachusetts LLCs can be dissolved after two years for failure to file an annual report.

Avoid Automatic Dissolution

LLCs may face fines and even automatic dissolution when they miss one or more state filings. When this happens, LLC owners risk loss of limited liability protection. A quality registered agent service can help prevent this outcome by notifying you of upcoming filing deadlines and by submitting reports on your behalf.

A cube with LLC printed on its sides

Recommended: ZenBusiness offers a reliable registered agent service and excellent customer support.

Get Help Starting a Business in Massachusetts

We understand that creating an LLC and getting your business up and running comes with many challenges. To help you succeed, we compiled the best local resources in every major metro area in Massachusetts. You can get free assistance in the following areas:

Boston | Springfield | Worcester

Make Running Your Business Easier

After starting a business, two of the most important things you can do are get professional accounting and hire the right employees. Streamlining these processes can save you time and money as your business grows.

Hiring Employees in Massachusetts

If you plan to hire employees for your Massachusetts LLC, stay compliant with the law by following these steps:

Find out more information from the Massachusetts state website.

A cube with LLC printed on its sides

Recommended: Check out our Hiring for your Small Business Guide for resources like sample job descriptions, payroll service reviews, and more.

FAQ: Hiring Employees in Massachusetts

What is the minimum wage in Massachusetts?

The minimum wage in Massachusetts is $12.75 per hour. 

How often do I need to pay employees in Massachusetts?

Massachusetts requires employers to pay employees weekly. 

Accounting For Your Massachusetts LLC

It’s critical to get your books in order, even if you haven’t officially opened for business. A well-managed accounting system will help you:

  • Track your business finances, including bills, expenses, and income.
  • Simplify your annual tax filings.

You can maintain your accounting in two ways:

  • Use a DIY accounting software. This can come with an increased risk of errors especially when starting a new business.
  • Hire an accounting service. They can provide comprehensive advice to help optimize your bookkeeping and taxes as well as additional services such as payroll etc.
A cube with LLC printed on its sides

Recommended: For most small businesses, we recommend using a reputable accounting service. Schedule a free tax consultation for your business now to avoid costly errors in the future.

Interfacing with Clients and Customers

In the day-to-day of running a business, it's hard to be readily available for new clients or customers who want to contact you. For service-based businesses that don’t already have a brick-and-mortar location, a virtual office can solve this problem. You can get a dedicated business mailing address and a business phone number with call-forwarding so that you never need to worry about losing a potential customer.

A cube with LLC printed on its sides

Recommended: Opus Virtual Office can set up your businesses with a live receptionist and all the perks of a virtual office for a great price of $99/month. Plus, as a visitor of HowToStartAnLLC, you can save $200 today.

Women in Business Tools and Resources

If you have a woman-owned business, many resources are available to help you concentrate on your business’s growth:

  • Funding - (ie. grants, investors, loans)
  • Events - (ie. conferences, meetups)
  • Guides - (ie. business formation, personal growth)
  • Support - (ie. advice, communities, business strategies)

Our information and tools will provide educational sources, allow you to connect with other women entrepreneurs, and help you manage your business with ease.

Video Guides

TRUiC has created video guides to support and reinforce our on-page guides. These videos help to visualize the ideas and lessons that you need to know to create and run a successful business.

How to Form a Massachusetts LLC Video Playlist 
Business Ideas Video Playlist

Check out our growing library of small business videos on the TRUiC YouTube channel.

More Information

Foreign LLCs in Massachusetts

Forming a foreign LLC allows your company to operate as one entity in multiple states. If you have an existing LLC and want to do business in Massachusetts, you will need to register as a foreign LLC. This can be done online or by mail.

Register as a Foreign LLC in Massachusetts

OPTION 1: File Online with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

File Online

- OR -

OPTION 2: File by Mail

Download Form


Fee: $500 Payable to the Secretary of the Commonwealth (Nonrefundable)

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

How to Obtain a Certificate of Good Standing

A Certificate of Good Standing verifies that your Massachusetts LLC was legally formed and has been properly maintained. Several instances where you might need to get one include:

  • Seeking funding from banks or other lenders
  • Forming your business as a foreign LLC in another state
  • Obtaining or renewing specific business licenses or permits

You can order a Massachusetts Certificate of Good Standing online, by mail, or by fax.

Order a Certificate of Good Standing

OPTION 1: Request a Certificate of Good Standing Online

Order Online

- OR -

OPTION 2: Request a Certificate by Mail or Fax

Download Form


Fee: $25 Payable to the Massachusetts Department of Revenue (Nonrefundable)

Mail to:
Massachusetts Department of Revenue
P.O. Box 7073
Boston, MA 02204

Dissolve Your Massachusetts LLC

If at any point in the future you no longer wish to conduct business with your Massachusetts LLC, it is important to officially dissolve it. Failure to do so in a timely fashion can result in tax liabilities and penalties, or even legal trouble. To dissolve your Massachusetts LLC, there are two broad steps:

  • Close your business tax accounts
  • File the Massachusetts Articles of Dissolution

When you are ready to dissolve your LLC, follow the steps in our Massachusetts LLC Dissolution Guide.

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