How to File Nonprofit Certificate of Incorporation in New Jersey

Starting a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in New Jersey is easy — and the first task is filing your Certificate of Incorporation. This guide will walk you through the 14 steps required to file the Certificate of Incorporation to officially start a nonprofit in New Jersey.

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Getting Started

To start a domestic nonprofit corporation in New Jersey, you must file a Public Records Filing for New Business Entity document. This guide covers each step you must take to fill out this document successfully and get on the right track to forming a New Jersey nonprofit.

Step 1: List Your Nonprofit’s Name

The first step to filling out your New Jersey formation document is to list your nonprofit corporation’s name. If you haven’t gone through the process of establishing a name for your organization, here are the requirements for naming a nonprofit in New Jersey:

  • Your nonprofit’s name must be distinguishable from any other name on record within the state of New Jersey, including any reserved names.
  • Your nonprofit’s name must include “a New Jersey Nonprofit Corporation,” “incorporated,” “corporation,” or “corp.”
  • Your nonprofit’s name can’t imply the organization’s purpose is anything other than what’s stated in its Public Records Filing for New Business Entity document.

Recommended: For a step-by-step guide to naming your nonprofit corporation in New Jersey, read our guide on How to Name a Nonprofit in New Jersey.

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.

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

Find a Domain Now

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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 Your Business Type Code

Enter the appropriate business entity type code in item two. The code for domestic nonprofits is “NP.” For all other types of businesses, see Item 2 in the instructions on page 21.

Step 3: Describe Your Nonprofit’s Purpose

In item three, describe your nonprofit’s purpose. That purpose must include one or more of the following characteristics for your nonprofit 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

Step 4: Skip the Stock Section

Because domestic nonprofits don’t have stock, you can leave item four blank and skip to the next step.

Step 5: Disclose Your Nonprofit’s Duration

Most incorporators form their nonprofit corporations without a specific end date in mind. If your nonprofit has a set duration, however, include that information in item five. If not, leave it blank.

Step 6: Choose a Registered Agent

A registered agent is required to file the New Jersey Public Records Filing for New Business Entity document. Either an individual or a corporation registered and in good standing with the New Jersey State Treasurer may fill this role. A registered agent’s responsibilities include accepting and forwarding service of process documents for the corporation as well as serving as a point of contact for the entity.

Requirements for this item include:

  • The name of your chosen registered agent
  • The street address of your registered office
  • Your main business or principal business address

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: Name Your Initial Board of Trustees

Name your initial board of trustees as well as a street address for each. To qualify for 501(c)(3) status and complete this formation document, you must name at least three trustees. If you have more than three trustees, use an attachment to provide the names and addresses of each additional trustee. 

When listing your nonprofit’s initial board of trustees, follow these guidelines:

  • 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 trustees, read our How to Develop a Board of Trustees for a Nonprofit in New Jersey article.

Step 8: List Your Incorporator Information

An incorporator is any person who participates in the completion and submission of the formation documents. At least one incorporator must provide their name, address, and signature in this item.

Step 9: Disclose Additional Information

This item requires you to disclose the following nonprofit entity-specific information by first checking the appropriate box and then disclosing any necessary details:

  • If your nonprofit corporation will have any members 
  • The rights and limitations of the different classes of members (if applicable)
  • How your nonprofit will elect trustees
  • How your nonprofit will distribute its assets upon dissolution 

Note: Distribution of assets upon dissolution must be for 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 10: File Formation Documents

You can file your New Jersey Public Records Filing for New Business Entity document in two ways: online or by mail. The application is located on page 23 of the New Jersey Business Registration packet.

File the New Jersey Public Records Filing for New Business Entity

OPTION 1: File Online With the New Jersey Division of Revenue and Enterprise Services

File Online

- OR -

OPTION 2: File by Mail

Download Form

Fee: $78.50 online, $75 by mail

Filing Address:
New Jersey Department of the Treasury
Division of Revenue/Corporate Filing Unit, P.O. Box 308
Trenton, NJ 08646-0308

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get copies of my Certificate of Incorporation in New Jersey?

You may request copies of any business entity documents through the Department of Revenue and Enterprise Services by mail, by fax, in person, or online.

How do I start a 501(c)(3) in New Jersey?

To start a 501(c)(3) organization in New Jersey, you must file a Public Records Filing For New Business Entity document, located on page 23 of the Business Registration packet, with the New Jersey Department of the Treasury following these IRS guidelines.

Once the state of New Jersey processes your formation documents, you may then complete the application process for 501(c)(3) status with the IRS.

How much does it cost to start a nonprofit in New Jersey?

Filing formation documents for a domestic nonprofit in New Jersey costs $75 plus an additional $3.50 convenience fee if you choose to file online.

How do I find nonprofits in New Jersey?

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

New Jersey Nonprofit Quick Links

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