Business Certificates (DBA's)

Who must file a Business Certificate?

Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 110, Section 5 states that any person conducting business in the Commonwealth under any title other than the real name of the person conducting the business, whether individually or as a partnership, shall file a certificate in the Office of the Town Clerk of every city or town where an office of any such person or partnership may be situated.

How do I file or renew a Business Certificate?

Forms are available in the Town Clerk’s Office or on line. Each person named on the certificate must either sign the certificate in person at the Town Clerk’s Office or have their signatures on the form notarized by a Notary Public. The filing fee is $40.00.
New applicants must also check with the Building Department to ensure their business will be in compliance with Zoning By-Laws. A form for this purpose, Zoning Opinion Form, may be obtained in person or on-line and must be signed by the Building Commissioner and filed with the Business Certificate before the certificate can be issued by the Town Clerk.

If you are renewing a previously issued Business Certificate , you may fill out a Zoning Acknowledgement Waiver Form instead of the Zoning Opinion Form.  Signing the Zoning Acknowledgement Waiver Form does not exempt you from complying with the town's Zoning By-Laws and Regulations.  This form will be notarized by Town Clerk staff and will then be filed with the Business Certificate Form. 

What is the penalty for failing to file a Business Certificate?

The requirement to file a Business Certificate is a State Law and failure to do so is punishable by a fine of up to $300.00 per month of violation.

Are Business Certificates public documents?

Yes. The business certificates are on file with the Town Clerk’s Office until one year after expiration, and may be viewed by anyone making a request.

Does the filing of a Business Certificate protect me from others using the same name?

No. The protection of a trademark (word, name, symbol, or device) in Massachusetts is accomplished through the Secretary of the Commonwealth Office.