Business Certificate Information

Purpose of Business Certificates

Any person doing business under a name other than its actual name, must file a Business Certificate in the City/Town Clerk’s office 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.  A Business Certificate is notice of who the true owner of the company is, and its primary purpose is to protect creditors of the company.  If you are unsure if the business you are opening requires a license, please check with the appropriate local licensing authorities.

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 be required.

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

Application Process

Any individual or entity may file a Business Certificate by completing the appropriate application package and paying the filing fee.  The filing fee is $20.00 and the Business Certificate (dba) is valid for four (4) years from the date of filing.  Application may be made either over the counter, or by mail.  Once all appropriate paperwork is filed, a certificate will be prepared and a certified copy will be available to you.  Mail-in applications are processed and returned after all appropriate sign-offs are received.  A certified copy will be returned to the address noted on the form.

You will need to follow the instructions contained in the Business Certificate Application Package which can be found following the link below.  You will also need to complete a Workers’ Compensation Form based on what type of business you are operating.  For businesses, operated by Builders/Contractors/Electricians and Plumbers please use Form A.  For ALL other proposed businesses please use Form B.

If you have any questions regarding the process, or what is required, please contact the City Clerk’s Office at (508) 460-3775.


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 $10.00.  The form can be completed over the counter, or by mail.  This form must be signed either in the presence of the Clerk’s Office staff or a Notary Public.  If you send the form by mail, once processed a certified copy will be returned to you by mail.