How to Change a Business Name in Massachusetts 2024: Ultimate Guide

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How to Change a Business Name in Massachusetts

Welcome to our all-in-one guide on renaming your business in Massachusetts (also known as The Bay State)! We know that a name change can impact your operations, brand, and customers. We aim to make this transition as smooth as possible, offering expert advice and guidance throughout the process.

Get ready to dive in as we explore the necessary steps for a successful business name change in Massachusetts. We’ll cover everything from selecting a new name to updating crucial documents and registrations, ensuring your Massachusetts LLC remains compliant and thriving. At LLCBase, we’re here to support you every step of the way in this exciting journey towards a fresh business identity in Massachusetts!

What is a Business Name

A business name, or trade name, is the official and unique title under which a company conducts its operations and represents itself to the public. It is essential to a company’s identity in branding, marketing, and communications. A well-chosen business name distinguishes a business from its competitors and conveys its values, mission, and services or products offered to customers.

A business name represents your company’s identity and is crucial for all branding and marketing initiatives. However, entrepreneurs often feel the need to change their business’s name at some point.

Top Reasons for Changing a Business Name

  1. Rebranding: One of the most common reasons for changing a business name is rebranding. As businesses evolve over time, their initial name may no longer reflect the current products, services, or target audience. A new name can help create a refreshed identity and better communicate the business’s direction.
  2. Expansion: Another reason for changing a business name is geographical or market expansion. If your company name was initially tied to a specific location or target market, a change might be necessary to reflect the new areas you’re targeting.
  3. Mergers and Acquisitions: Adopting a new name representing both entities’ strengths may be beneficial if your business merges with or acquires another company.
  4. Legal Issues: Trademark disputes or potential infringement can also lead to a business name change. If you’re facing legal challenges over your company’s name, rebranding might be a wise choice to avoid further issues.
  5. Negative Associations: Suppose your business has faced negative press or unfavorable associations with its current name. In that case, a name change can help distance the company from past issues and signal a fresh start.

Change a Business Name: A 4-Step Guide

Let’s discuss the various steps and procedures involved in changing your business name effectively:

Step 1: Choose Your New Business Name

Selecting a new name is the first step in changing your business name in Massachusetts. Many business owners file a DBA (Doing Business As) or a Fictitious Name before registering their business with the Secretary of State (SOS). They can then change this name when filing their business. To choose a new name and file a DBA, follow the steps below:

  1. Visit the Massachusetts Secretary of State to access the Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth Corporations Division , where you can search for the desired name and confirm its availability. 
  2. Once you have found an available name, proceed with the DBA name filing in Massachusetts. The Massachusetts DBA filing method can be done through two methods, by mail and in person., which may include There is no online filing available or For filing offline, you must send the downloaded PDF form or drop it off in person at the City Clerk’s Office, 1 City Hall Square, Room 601, Boston, MA 02201 options.
  3. Depending on the chosen filing method, you may need to submit a DBA application form and pay the associated $65 Filing fee and $35 Additional fee if a non-Massachusetts resident. This fee may vary depending on your state and filing method.
  4. After successfully filing your DBA, keep track of the four years, as you may need to renew your DBA registration periodically, depending on your state’s requirements.

By following these steps, you can ensure a smooth transition in changing your business name in Massachusetts while maintaining compliance with state regulations. Remember to update all relevant documents, licenses, and registrations with your new business name to avoid confusion and maintain a consistent brand identity.

We have curated a list of the best LLC services in Massachusetts to assist you with changing your business name. Feel free to browse their offerings!

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Massachusetts Requirements to Change a Business Name

Before proceeding with the next step, it is crucial to know the naming guidelines when choosing a new name for your business. These guidelines may vary based on the type of business structure. For example, if you start a Massachusetts LLC, the following rules must be observed when changing the name:

  • The name should be available for use
  • The name should not be in use by another business
  • The new name must include “LLC” if it is a limited liability company
  • The name should not be confused with a government entity
  • The name should be unique

Read the Massachusetts LLC name search article to learn more about LLC naming guidelines if you are forming an LLC.

Step 2: Prepare the Documents

Once you choose a new business name, prepare the necessary documents to file the Massachusetts Certificate of Amendment. Gathering all the required information and double-checking for accuracy before the submission is essential. Along with the name change form, submit the following details:

  • Current business name: Provide the existing name of your business as it appears on your registration documents.
  • New business name: Clearly state the new name you have chosen for your business, ensuring that it complies with your state’s naming guidelines.
  • The entity number of the business: Include the unique identification number issued by the Massachusetts for your business. This number is often called the Secretary of State File Number or the Business Identification Number.
  • Board of Directors’ approval statement (for corporations): If your business is a corporation, provide a statement indicating that the Board of Directors has approved the name change. This statement should include the date of the meeting during which the decision was made and the signatures of the authorized representatives.
  • Information on shares (if applicable): For corporations, provide details on the number of authorized shares, the various classes of shares, and any changes to the share structure resulting from the name change.
  • Signatures of members (LLC) or Shareholders (Corporation): Obtain and include the signatures of all required parties, such as LLC members or corporate shareholders, to confirm their agreement to the name change.
  • Massachusetts Certificate of Amendment filing fee: Include the appropriate filing fee of $100 in Massachusetts. This fee may vary depending on the state and the type of business entity.

Just like the first process of starting a business in Massachusetts, ensure that the details in the  Certificate of Amendment are consistent with the initial filing documents. Inconsistencies may result in the cancellation of your registration or delays in processing the name change. By carefully preparing and reviewing your amendment documents, you can help ensure a smooth transition to your new business name in Massachusetts.

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Step 3: File the Massachusetts Certificate of Amendment

After thoroughly preparing and reviewing all the necessary documents, proceed to file the Massachusetts Certificate of Amendment for your Massachusetts LLC or an Amendment of Articles of Incorporation for corporations. Keep in mind the following steps to ensure a successful filing:

  1. Attach the name reservation form: Remember to include the name reservation form with the Amendment forms. This form typically confirms that you have reserved and have the right to use the new business name.
  2. Choose the appropriate filing method: You can file the Certificate of Amendment online or by mail, depending on your state’s available options. Each method may have specific requirements or fees, so research your state’s guidelines to determine the best option for your business.
  3. Submit the  Certificate of Amendment forms and fees: Complete the required amendments, providing accurate information and including all necessary signatures. Include the appropriate Massachusetts Certificate of Amendment filing fee of  $100, which may vary depending on your state and business entity type.
  4. Keep track of processing times: Depending on your state and filing method, the processing time for your Amendment may vary. Monitor your filing status and be prepared to address any questions or concerns from the state agency.
  5. Obtain a confirmation or updated registration documents: Once your  Certificate of Amendment has been processed and approved, you should receive a confirmation or updated registration documents reflecting the new business name. Keep these documents for your records and update any other relevant materials.

By diligently following these steps and adhering to your state’s requirements, you can successfully file the Massachusetts Certificate of Amendment and transition to your new business name. Remember to update all related licenses, permits, and registrations to maintain compliance and prevent confusion.

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Step 4: Update the New Business Name

Once you have successfully filed the Massachusetts Certificate of Amendment, updating the new business name in various areas is crucial to maintain compliance, prevent confusion, and ensure a seamless transition.

We’ve also compiled a list of the best business attorneys in Massachusetts to support you in changing and updating your business name. Please take a moment to explore their services!

But if you decided to update the new business name yourself, consider the following updates that you need to do:

  • Legal documents: Update the Massachusetts statement of information, loan documents, active legal contracts, lease agreements, and any other relevant legal documents with your new business name.
  • City/local registration: If your city or local authorities require business registration, update your new business name with the appropriate departments, such as the Massachusetts Secretary of State, by submitting the necessary forms and fees.
  • Business Licenses: Contact the relevant departments to update your new name and obtain the necessary Massachusetts business licenses and permits for operating in Massachusetts.
  • Bank Accounts: Visit your bank or financial institution to update your business accounts, credit cards, and checks to reflect the new name, ensuring a smooth financial transition.
  • Internal Revenue Service (IRS): Amend your business name with the IRS by obtaining your EIN records or filing an updated Form ST-12 Exempt Use Certificate to maintain compliance and prevent confusion.
  • Other updates: If you have employees, amend your records with the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance and the employment development authority. Update any additional business permits, insurance policies, and legal documents as needed.
  • Marketing materials: Update your website, signage, business cards, merchandise, social media profiles, email signatures, and other places where your business name is displayed to maintain a consistent brand identity.

Updating your business name across all relevant areas ensures a smooth transition and minimizes any potential issues arising from the name change. This comprehensive approach will help maintain your business’s credibility and reputation while adapting to the new name in Massachusetts.

Considerations When Changing a Business Name

  1. Customer Recognition: When changing your business name, it’s essential to consider its impact on your existing customers’ recognition of your brand. Ideally, the new name should maintain some connection to the old one to retain customer loyalty and familiarity.
  2. Trademarks and Domain Name Availability: Before settling on a new name, ensure it is available for trademark registration and a corresponding domain name is available for your online presence.
  3. Costs and Time Investment: Changing a business name involves various costs, such as legal fees and marketing expenses. The process can be time-consuming, from notifying customers and suppliers to updating documentation and signage.
  4. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Impact: Changing your business name can impact your website’s SEO rankings. Building a strong online presence using your new name and updating all online content and backlinks will require extensive work.
  5. Notify Relevant Authorities: When changing your company’s name, ensure you notify the relevant local, state, and federal authorities, update your tax information, and obtain new business licenses and permits.

FAQs

How do I change a business name in Massachusetts?
You need to file a Certificate of Amendment with the Massachusetts Secretary of State.
What is a Certificate of Amendment?
It is a legal document filed with the Secretary of State that modifies the articles of organization or articles of incorporation of a business.
How can I obtain a Certificate of Amendment form?
You can download the form from the Massachusetts Secretary of State’s website or request a copy by mail.
Do I need to provide a reason for changing my business name?
No, you do not need to provide a reason for changing your business name.
How much does it cost to file a Certificate of Amendment in Massachusetts?
The fee is $100 for domestic businesses and $150 for foreign businesses.
What is the difference between a domestic business and a foreign business?
A domestic business is a business that was originally formed in Massachusetts, whereas a foreign business is a business that was originally formed in another state or country.
Can I change my business name to anything I want?
The Massachusetts Secretary of State may reject a proposed business name if it is too similar to an existing business name, contains certain prohibited words, or is misleading to consumers.
Will changing my business name affect my taxes or legal status?
No, changing your business name does not affect your taxes or legal status.
How long does it take for the business name change to take effect in Massachusetts?
It typically takes two to three weeks for the Secretary of State to process and approve the Certificate of Amendment.
Will I receive a new Certificate of Incorporation or Articles of Organization after changing my business name in Massachusetts?
No, you will not receive new certificates. The original certificate will simply be amended to reflect the new business name.
Do I need to update my business name with the Massachusetts Department of Revenue?
Yes, you will need to update your business name with the Massachusetts Department of Revenue if you have registered for tax purposes.
Do I need to notify my customers and vendors of my name change?
It is recommended that you notify your customers, vendors, and other business contacts of your name change.
Can I change my business name on my existing contracts and agreements?
Yes, you can use a Name Change Amendment form to amend your existing contracts and agreements.
Do I need to get a new EIN after changing my business name in Massachusetts?
No, your Employer Identification Number (EIN) will remain the same after changing your business name.
Can I change my business name in Massachusetts if I am registered as a sole proprietorship?
Yes, you can change your business name by filing a new Business Certificate with the city or town clerk where your business is located.
How do I update my business name on my website and social media accounts?
You will need to update your website and social media accounts with your new business name manually.
Will changing my business name affect my business domain name?
It may affect your domain name if your old business name was included in your domain name. You may need to register a new domain name.
Can I change my business name and address at the same time in Massachusetts?
Yes, you can file an amended Certificate of Organization or Corporation to change both your business name and address.
Do I need to update my business name with the Massachusetts Secretary of State if I change my doing business as (DBA) name?
Yes, you will need to file a Certificate of Amendment to change your DBA name.
Can I change my business type (sole proprietorship to LLC) and business name at the same time in Massachusetts?
No, you will need to file separate forms to change your business type and business name.
Do I need to update my business name on my business license after changing it in Massachusetts?
Yes, you will need to update your business name on your business license with the city or town where your business is located.
Can I use the word “Corporation” in my business name if I am an LLC in Massachusetts?
No, LLCs cannot use the word “Corporation” in their business name in Massachusetts.
Can I file for a business name reservation in Massachusetts?
Yes, you can file for a business name reservation with the Massachusetts Secretary of State to reserve a chosen business name for up to 60 days.
Can I change my business name by filing an amendment with the city or town where my business is located instead of the Massachusetts Secretary of State?
No, you must file an amendment with the Massachusetts Secretary of State to change your business name.
Will changing my business name affect my business bank account in Massachusetts?
Yes, you will need to update your business name on your bank account.
Do I need to update my business name on my business cards, marketing materials, and invoices after changing it in Massachusetts?
Yes, you will need to update your business name on all materials that represent your business.
Can I change my business name back to the original name in Massachusetts?
Yes, you can change your business name back to the original name by filing a Certificate of Amendment.
Can I change my business name online in Massachusetts?
It is currently not possible to file a Certificate of Amendment online in Massachusetts.
What is the process to change a business name in Massachusetts?
To change the name of your Massachusetts business, you must file “Articles of Amendment” with the corporations section of the Secretary of Commonwealth.
Do I need the approval of the Commonwealth before changing my business name?
Unlike some other states, in Massachusetts, you don’t need the approval of the state government to change the name of your business.
Can anyone change any name to their business?
Massachusetts law regulates what you can and cannot name your business. You cannot pick a name that matches or closely resembles an existing domestic or foreign corporation.
Can I change the name of my sole proprietorship or partnership?
Yes, the process for changing a business name of a sole proprietorship or partnership is the same as for a corporation in Massachusetts.
Is there a fee for changing my business name in Massachusetts?
Yes. The filing fee for a business name change is $100.
How long does it usually take to approve a business name change in Massachusetts?
Generally, Massachusetts does not have a set waiting or processing timeframe. However, typical processing time is within one week.
Can I use a different brand name instead of a legal name for my Massachusetts business?
You can have a Massachusetts business operate under a brand name or “trade name” that is different from its legal name.
Do I need an attorney to change my business name in Massachusetts?
While using an attorney to file your business name change is your choice, it’s not required in Massachusetts.
Does the change of name also affect The Massachusetts State Tax ID number?
Yes. If you change the legal name of your Massachusetts business, then you need to get a new State Tax ID number under the new first name.
Will I need to get a new EIN if I change my business name?
In most Massachusetts cases, no. Generally, you’ll keep the same EIN after you change your name.
Can I change my business name and my business model at the same time?
Yes. Although you can startup a whole new entity/entity type you can also completely pivot your business or services as well as change your name in Massachusetts.
How detailed can I get with my new Massachusetts business name?
Massachusetts business name rules prohibit you from using any vulgar or obscene word or phrase in your business name.
Can I use a name that’s already taken if my business is different from theirs?
It depends. You cannot use a business name that is already registered with the state in Massachusetts—even if your business is different—because it leads to name confusion.
What is the downside if I do not properly change the name of my business on an Associates’s or Joint Venture agreement?
Failing to update your business name could lead to legal trouble or contractual obligations that favor two different named entities.
Can I submit an online name change application in Massachusetts?
Not as such since online filing is not yet available in Massachusetts.
Are there any state-specific required follow-ups if a company name registered in a foreign country changes its name?
Yes. Foreign Corporations operating in Massachusetts must notify the government following a name change.
Can the Commonwealth reject a business name change?
Yes. If you are changing your corporation to an existing name or a name that is too similar to another business name, state authorities can decline your name-change application.
Do I also need a new operating agreement following the name change?
No, you need not if your changes do not effect drastically on the company’s operation.
Do trade names and company name change the same thing?
Not necessarily. A trade name is the name that a company uses publicly, also known as their “Doing Business As” (DBA) or fictitious name.
When filing articles, what should I do to ensure that the approval process is as smooth as possible?
Check the availability of your desired name. and be sure that your article document is complete and consistent with Massachusetts laws.
Can I use the state abbreviation in my name to shorten it?
Yes. You can shorten your company’s name to initials.
Do fictitious names need to be written on anything specific like signage or business documents?
Yes. Fictitious names for a Massachusetts business must be legally registered, and all essential documents must reflect the usage of that name.
Can I change my business name and establish an additional DBA at the same time?
Yes. While keep many names DBAs it wont effect registration of additional names as done before.
In what instances can my articles of amendment be rejected?
In Massachusetts, the articles of amendment documenting the change for a business name can be rejected if — you fail to disclose accurate or sufficient information-required by Massachusetts law and regulations.
What are the standard Massachusetts naming conventions for LLCs named after living people?
Ordinarily shall object to a limited liability company (LLC) being registered in Massachusetts with the name of a Living Person.
Can I remove any word or words from my business name while changing it?
Yes. If you want to remove a part of your Massachusetts business’s existing legal name—like a ‘Corporation’, you can in your name change application.
Can other States’ businesses register in Massachusetts despite already having an active commercial presence here?
Typically, name changes should file in the state where they are registered only.Whatever any other information found it would be certified one.
Am I obliged to apologise to clients/customers if I changed the name of my Massachusetts business?
Enforcers do responsible business accountancies and insurance firms in MA; they should casually present having undergone those kinds of updates too.
For an LLC, will I have to add specific identifiers together with the business name?
Limited Liability Companies have a few Massachusetts specific naming process such as including a distinguished identifier—a designation, which lets everyone know that there’s an LLC.

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Conclusion

Changing your business name in Massachusetts is a significant decision that requires careful planning and attention to detail. By following the steps outlined in this guide and diligently updating your business name across all relevant areas, you can ensure a seamless transition while maintaining compliance with state regulations and preserving your brand’s reputation.

We invite you to visit LLCBase for more helpful resources and guidance on navigating the complexities of running a successful business in Massachusetts. Let’s make your business an enduring success story in Massachusetts!

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