How to Start an LLC in Massachusetts

Last Updated: by the TRUiC Team

To form a Massachusetts LLC, you'll need to file the Certificate of Organization with the Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth, which costs $500. You can apply online, by mail, by fax, or in person.

Follow our step-by-step How to Start an LLC in Massachusetts guide to get started today.

  1. Name your Massachusetts LLC
  2. Choose a Resident Agent
  3. File the Certificate of Organization
  4. Create an Operating Agreement
  5. Get an EIN
  6. File the Annual Report
  7. Keep Your Company Compliant

Or Simply use a professional service:

four point seven out of five Northwest ($29 + State Fees)

Learn more about LLCs and their benefits in our What is an LLC guide. To form an LLC in any state, visit our How to Set Up an LLC guide.

Massachusetts State map icon with filing cost

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.

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.

To learn more about searching for a Massachusetts LLC name, read our full 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.

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

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: Northwest provides the first year of registered agent service free with LLC formation ($29 + State Fees)

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 apply online, by mail, by fax, or in person.

Now is a good time to determine whether your LLC will be member-managed vs. manager-managed.

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, 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 guide.

Massachusetts LLC Formation Document

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

Recommended: Download a template or create a free operating agreement using our tool.

Step 5: Get a Massachusetts LLC EIN

You can get an Employer Identification Number (EIN) 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

Step 6: File the Annual Report

Massachusetts requires that LLCs file an annual report with the Corporations Division of the Secretary of the Commonwealth.

Filing can be done online, by mail, by fax, or in person. Fax filings must include a cover sheet. The fee for the annual report is $500 ($520 for hard copy filings), due every year by the LLC's anniversary date (i.e., the date you initially registered your LLC with the state).

Steps After LLC Formation

Read all the steps you’ll need to maintain your LLC’s personal liability protection, open a business bank account, get business insurance, and stay up to date with state reporting requirements.

Visit our After Forming an LLC guide to learn more.

Step 7: Keep Your Company Compliant

Massachusetts Business Licenses & Permits

To operate your LLC, you must comply with federal, state, and local government regulations. Fees and requirements for licenses and permits will vary depending on what sort of business license you need.

Find out how to get the necessary business licenses and permits for your LLC with our Massachusetts Business License guide.

Recommended: Consider having a professional service research your business’s licensing requirements. Read our best business license services review.

Recommended: Consider having a professional service research your business’s licensing requirements. Read our best business license services review.

Massachusetts LLC Tax Filing Requirements

It's important to stay up to date on Massachusetts LLC taxes.

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

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.

Massachusetts' sales tax rate is 6.25%. There is no additional local sales tax.

Employer Taxes

If you’re hiring employees, you’ll need to register for both Unemployment Insurance Tax with the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance and Employee Withholding Tax through the MassTaxConnect portal.

Income Tax

Massachusetts has a flat 5% income tax rate for individuals. State tax returns are due each year by April 18. To calculate your tax or determine your tax bracket, visit the Massachusetts Department of Revenue website

You’ll also need to report your federal income tax using either Form 1065 (multi-member LLC) or Form 1040 Schedule C (single-member LLC).

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

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.

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

Common Questions About Massachusetts LLCs

How do I name my Massachusetts 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.

After you get your business name, get a unique logo using our Free Logo Generator.

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

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.

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.

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.

Do I need an EIN for my LLC?

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.

How much does it cost to start a Massachusetts LLC?

The cost to start a Massachusetts LLC is $500.

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

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

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.

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

An LLC is referred to as a "domestic LLC" when it conducts business in the state where it was formed. 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.

Do I need to file my operating agreement with the Commonwealth 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.

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 about applying as an international applicant.

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?

What is the minimum wage in Massachusetts?

The minimum wage in Massachusetts is $15 per hour.

How often do I need to pay employees in Massachusetts?

Massachusetts requires employers to pay employees weekly.

Massachusetts Business Resources

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