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Business Certificate - Requirement & Forms

DBA Business Certificate Forms
Business Certificate Appliction Form
Business Amendment Form

What is a business certificate?
A business certificate is the registration of a business that is being conducted and is located within the Town of Easton. It is commonly referred to as a " DBA" or "Doing Business As" certificate. A business certificate essentially creates a public record of the name and address of the owner(s) of a business.  

What does a business certificate do?
A business certificate primarily allows consumers and/or creditors to identify the names of the actual owners of a business.   This information is a public record and is furnished to the Massachusetts Department of Revenue under the authority of Mass. G.L. 62C, S 49a.

What doesn't a business certificate do? 
Your filing of a business certificate at the local Town Clerk’s office does NOT protect your name or reserve it as does a corporate filing or a trademark registration (which is done through the State).  It also does not give you permission to operate a business in the town – it only registers your name.  In order to legally operate a business in the town you must get the appropriate permits, licenses, variances, etc., that are required by the issuing departments of the town.

Who must file a business certificate?
Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 110, §5 states that any person conducting business in the Commonwealth under any title or business name other than the real name of the person conducting the business, whether individually or as a partner, shall file a certificate in the office of the clerk where an office of any such person or partnership may be situated. 

Any corporation doing business in a name other than its corporate name must also file.  The certificate must be completed and filed by a corporate officer.

Under Chapter 110, Section 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.)

How do I file or renew a business certificate?
Forms for filing are available in the Town Clerk’s Office. The certificate includes the name and residence of each person conducting the business, and the location where the business is conducted.  You may file in person or by mail, in the clerk’s office every city or town where an office of said business may be situated.  The named individuals must either appear in person at the Town Clerk's Office in order to execute the document, or have their signatures on the form notarized by a Notary Public

Return business certificate application form with check payable to the Town of Easton to the Town Clerks Office, 136 Elm Street, Easton, MA 02356.

What are the filing fees? 
Business Certificates (New or Renewals)                  $50 
Additional certified copy of the certificate                $ 3 
Business Certificate Amendment                               $25

Does a Business Certificate Expire? 
A business certificate is in full force and effect for four (4) years from the date of issue.  A new filing must be made every four years as long as the business is being conducted. 

You must complete a business certificate amendment form upon discontinuing or withdrawing from such business if the change is during the term of the certificate.  You must renew your license at the time of expiration if the business is still in existence.

What about a change or amendment? 
If any of the following occurs before the expiration of the business certificate, an amendment form must be filed with the Town Clerk.  There is a $25 fee per amendment.
•   Business is discontinued
•   One or more of the persons named on the certificate is withdrawn or retired from the business
•   One or more of the persons named on the certificate dies
•   One or more of the persons named on the certificate has a change in residence
•   The location where the business is conducted changes

If you are changing the name of your business you may be required to discontinue the old business and then open a new business.

What are the penalties for failing to file a business certificate?
The requirement to file a business certificate is a State Law (MGL Chapter 110, §5).  Violators of these provisions shall be subject to a fine of not more than three hundred ($300.00) dollars for each month during which said violation continues.

Does the business certificate have to be displayed? 
No.  However, you must provide a copy upon request.

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.  Copies are available for a fee in accordance with Public Records Laws.

Questions about the process? 
For further information about filing a business certificate in Easton contact the Town Clerk's Office at townclerksoffice@easton.ma.us.  The Town Clerks Office will NOT offer legal advice or interpretation of the laws.