How to File a Nonprofit Certificate of Incorporation in Connecticut

Starting a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in Connecticut is easy — and the first task is filing your Certificate of Incorporation. This guide will walk you through the eight steps required to file a Certificate of Incorporation to officially start a nonprofit in Connecticut.


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Getting Started

To start a nonprofit corporation in Connecticut, you must file the state’s Certificate of Incorporation for a Nonstock Corporation. This guide covers each step you must take to fill out this document successfully and get on the right track to forming a Connecticut nonprofit.

Filing Party

At the top of the form, you must include the name and address of the person who’ll receive confirmation of your filing.

Step 1: List Your Nonprofit’s Name

The first step to filling out the Connecticut Certificate of Incorporation is to list your organization’s name in section one of the document. If you haven’t gone through the process of establishing a name for your organization, here are the requirements for naming a nonprofit in Connecticut:

  • Your nonprofit’s name must include “corporation,” “company,” “incorporated,” “limited,” or an abbreviation of any of these terms.
  • Your nonprofit’s name must be distinguishable from any other name on record within the state of Connecticut, including any reserved names.
  • Your nonprofit’s name can’t include any words that imply it’s related to a government agency.
  • Your nonprofit’s name can’t include words like “university,” “bank,” “credit union,” or “trust” as a separate word to convey the organization is engaged in banking or a trust.
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Recommended: For a step-by-step guide to naming your nonprofit corporation in Connecticut, read our guide on How to Name a Nonprofit in Connecticut.

Search the Availability of Your Name

After selecting potential names — ideally, at least four or five — it’s important to search for their availability in your state. You can do this by conducting the four recommended searches outlined below, or use our 501(c)(3) Lookup Table.

Connecticut Business Records Search
To operate in Connecticut, a nonprofit corporation must have a unique name. You can easily check if your chosen name is available by performing a search using the Connecticut Business Records Search tool.

Domain Name Search
We strongly recommend that you also check to see if your business name is available as a web domain (URL). Even if you don't plan to create a business website today, you may want to buy the web address to prevent others from acquiring that domain name. It’s a free search.

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Federal Trademark Search
You can easily check if someone already trademarked your chosen nonprofit name by using the federal Trademark Electronic Search System. This is important even if you don’t plan to form your nonprofit right away.

Once you confirm that no one else already trademarked your chosen name, you can apply for a trademark for your nonprofit.

Web and Social Media Search
A strong social media presence will play a key role in expanding your reach to potential donors as well as clients that will use your services. That makes it important to search the web and popular social media platforms for your desired name before registering it to ensure it’s available on all the platforms where you plan to promote your organization.

Step 2: Confirm Any Members

This section provides four options to describe your organization’s members. Select the option that applies to your nonprofit from the following:

  • No members
  • Only non-voting members
  • Only one class of members
  • Multiple classes of members with each class designated as follows (You must add details about each class if you choose this option.)

Step 3: Describe Your Nonprofit’s Purpose

In section three, describe your organization’s purpose or the nature of its activities that it will conduct. Your organization’s purpose must include one or more of the following characteristics to be eligible for 501(c)(3) status:

  • Charitable
  • Religious
  • Educational
  • Scientific
  • Literary
  • Testing for public safety
  • Fostering national/international amateur sports competition
  • Preventing cruelty to animals/children

If you have the NAICS code in relation to the purpose of your nonprofit to list, write in the code in the following section in addition to completing this section. You can do a NAICS Code Lookup and find the NAICS Code for LLC that matches your industry.

Step 4: Provide Any Additional Attachments

In order for your nonprofit to qualify for 501(c)(3) status, you must include some additional statements with your Certificate of Incorporation. These include details about your initial board of directors and how your nonprofit will distribute its assets upon dissolution.

Here’s what you need to know to disclose this information successfully:

Name Your Board of Directors

The state of Connecticut doesn’t require you to name your board of directors. However, you are required to have a minimum of three board directors to qualify for 501(c)(3) status. When listing your nonprofit’s initial board of directors, follow these requirements:

  • Don’t include any prefixes, such as “Mr.” or “Ms.”
  • If applicable, use titles of lineage.
  • If applicable, use designations like “M.D.” or “Ph.D.”

For a complete guide to forming your nonprofit’s board of directors, read our How to Develop a Board of Directors for a Nonprofit in Connecticut article.

Outline the Distribution of Assets Upon Dissolution

Describe how your nonprofit corporation’s assets will be distributed upon its dissolution. If you need additional space, use an attachment.

To qualify for 501(c)(3) status, your nonprofit must distribute its assets upon dissolution to approved, tax-exempt purposes only. For more information about the requirements of dissolution and 501(c)(3) status, refer to the sixth section of the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS’) suggested language for corporations and associations.

Step 5: List the Corporate Email Address

List your nonprofit corporation’s email address in section five of the document. The state will use this to send you a reminder to file your annual report. If you don’t have a corporate email address then check the available box, but don’t leave this section blank.

Step 6: Choose a Registered Agent

A registered agent is required to file a Certificate of Incorporation in Connecticut. An individual or business may fill this role. The responsibilities of a registered agent include accepting and forwarding service of process documents for the corporation as well as serving as a point of contact for the organization. Your corporation can’t serve as its own registered agent.

Individual — This is an individual resident of Connecticut with a physical street address in the state. You may designate an officer or director as your registered agent. Filing requirements for this type of agent include:

  • A signature from the individual accepting this role
  • The individual’s business and residential addresses, including the street name and number, the city, and the ZIP code (Neither can be a P.O. Box address.)

Business — This is a registered corporate agent qualified with the Connecticut Secretary of State. Filing requirements for this type of agent include:

  • The provided business name must correspond with the State of Connecticut’s records
  • A signature accepting this role on behalf of the registered agent
  • The full name and title of the person signing on behalf of the registered agent
  • A complete street address, including the street name and number, the city, and the ZIP code (This can’t be a P.O. Box address.)

Note: You may include information for either an individual or business, but not both.

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Recommended: Using an affordable registered agent service offers many benefits. For more information on choosing a registered agent service, read our full guide.

Step 7: List Your Incorporator Information

Each incorporator — those who complete and submit the Certificate of Incorporation — must sign this document and include their mailing address. These mailing addresses, which can’t be for a P.O. Box, must contain a street name and number as well as a city, state, and ZIP code.

Step 8: File Formation Documents

You can file your Connecticut Certificate of Incorporation for a Nonstock Corporation in two ways: online, by mail, or in person. When filing by mail or in person, you must submit two copies of your Certificate of Incorporation (the original and one copy).

File a Connecticut Certificate of Incorporation

OPTION 1: File Online With CT Business One Stop

File Online

- OR -

OPTION 2: File by Mail or In Person

Download Form


Fee: $50

Mailing Address:
Business Services Division
Connecticut Secretary of the State
P.O. Box 150470
Hartford, CT 06115-0470

Office Address:
Business Services Division
Connecticut Secretary of the State
165 Capitol Ave., Suite 1000
Hartford, CT 06106

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to start a nonprofit in Connecticut?

To file a Certificate of Incorporation with the Connecticut Secretary of the State, you must pay a $50 filing fee.

How long does it take to process a Certificate of Incorporation in Connecticut?

It typically takes three to five business days to process a Certificate of Incorporation in Connecticut. But, you can expedite the process for an additional $50 fee.

How do I find nonprofits in Connecticut?

Use our handy Connecticut 501(c)(3) Lookup Table to find nonprofits in Connecticut. You can use this tool to see if your preferred nonprofit name is in use or not.

Connecticut Nonprofit Quick Links

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