Business Certificates

Application Process

Any individual or entity may file a business certificate by completing the appropriate form, presenting identification and paying the filing fee. The filing fee is $25 and the certificate is valid for four years from the date of filing. Application may be made over the counter. A certificate will be prepared while you wait and a certified copy will be available before you leave the office. Mail-in applications are made by completing the appropriate form at the following link. This form must be signed before a notary public. A certified copy will be returned to you by mail.

Business Certificate Notary


If a business will no longer be operating, a partner withdraws from the partnership, the business changes address within the city, or the proprietor or one of the partners dies, an amendment must be filed with the City Clerk. The filing fee for an amendment is $5. The form can be completed over the counter and proper identification must be presented. In the alternative, the amendment can be made by mail using the form at the following link. This form must be signed before a notary public and a certified copy will be sent to you by mail.

Business Certificate Amendment Notary

Purpose of Business Certificates

Any person doing business under a name other than its actual name must file a business certificate in the office of the clerk of every city or town where an office of the business is located. It is often referred to as a trade name certificate or a dba certificate. A business certificate is not a license. It is notice of who the true owner of the company is. Its primary purpose is to protect creditors of the company.

Often business certificates are filed by sole proprietors or partnerships doing business under a fictional name. For example, John Doe doing business as Joe’s Grass Cutting Service would have to file a business certificate. A corporation does not have to file a business certificate if it is operating under its true corporate name. For example, Sail Rigging Service, Inc. would not have to file a business certificate if it operates under that name. However, if the corporation was ABC Corp. and it does business as Sail Rigging Service, then a business certificate would have to be filed.

For legal reference, see Mass. General Laws Chapter 110, Section 5

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