Business Certificates

Clip-art handshake stand-in.jpg Commonly referred to by the name D.B.A.s (Doing Business As), a business certificate creates a public record of the name and address of the owner(s) of a business. Consumers are entitled to this information which may not otherwise be readily available.

When a Business Certificate is Required

Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 110 §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 clerk of every city or town where an office of any such person or partnership may be situated.

Under Chapter 110, §6, a business certificate is not required if a corporation is doing business in its true corporate name, or if a partnership is doing business under any title which includes the true surname of any partner.

Certain other associations and partnerships may also be exempt (refer to above citation for details).

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Filing & Renewing Business Certificates

Forms are available in the Town Clerk’s Office. Each person named on the certificate must either sign the form in person at the Town Clerk’s Office, or have their signatures on the form notarized by a notary public. Proper identification will be required. The filing fee is $20.00.

Business Certificate application form can be found here.

Discontinuation or Relocation of Business

A Statement of Discontinuance, Change of Residence Form must be completed and filed with the Town Clerk's Office if one of the following occurs before its expiration date:
  • Business is discontinued
  • One or more of the persons named on the certificate is withdrawn or retired from the business or partnership
  • One or more of the persons named on the certificate dies
  • Change of residence of one of the named persons on the certificate
  • Change of location where the business is conducted

Failing to File

The requirement to file a business certificate is a state law (MGL Chapter 110, §5). Failure to do so is punishable by a fine of up to $300 per month of violation.

Public Documentation

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. 


Filing for a business certificate does not prevent other businesses using the same name. The protection of a trademark (word, name, symbol, or device) in Massachusetts is accomplished through the Secretary of State’s Office.

Quick Facts

Access additional information from the state about starting a business in Massachusetts.