Business Certificate

Click here for required forms:  New or Renewal Business License Application

Click here for required forms:  Business License Discontinuance or Change

How to Apply for a Business Certificate

A business certificate is the registration of a business that is being conducted and is located within the Town of Swampscott. It is commonly referred to as a " DBA" or "Doing Business As" certificate. Its purpose is primarily for consumer protection and public information. Essentially, it creates a public record of the name and address of the owner of a business. Consumers are entitled to this information and it may not otherwise be readily available. Banks will require a certified copy of a Business Certificate before issuing a business checking account. The Town of Swampscott’s Business Certificate form appears at the end of this section for consumer use. 

Who must file a Business Certificate? 

Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 110, Section 5 states that any person conducting business under any title or business name other than the real name of the person conducting the business must file a certificate with the Town Clerk. A person is defined as an individual, a partnership, or a corporation. Exemptions to filing are allowed under the statute if the 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 exemptions exist for trusts and limited partnerships. 

How to File or Renew a Business Certificate 

Forms for filing a DBA are available in the Town Clerk’s Office. The certificate includes the name and residence of each person conducting the business, the business telephone number, E-Mail address, if any, and the location where the business is conducted. 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. The filing fee is $25.00, and the certificate is valid for four years from the date of filing. 

Business Certificate Discontinue/Withdrawal/Re-Location 

A "Statement of Discontinuance, Change of Residence..." form must be completed and filed with the Town Clerk if one of the following occurs before the expiration:

  1. The business is discontinued; 
  2. one or more of the persons named on the certificate is withdrawn or retired from the business or partnership; 
  3. one or more of the persons named on the certificate dies; 
  4. change of residence of one of the named persons on the certificate; 
  5. a change of location where the business is conducted. 

The forms are available from the Town Clerk. The filing fee for discontinuance, withdrawal, or termination is $5.00. 

Penalty for failing to file a Business Certificate 

The requirement to file a business certificate is governed by State Law. Failure to do so is punishable by a fine of up to $300.00.

Business Certificates are a public document 

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 currently available for $2.00. 

A Business Certificate does not provide protection from others 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. The current fee for such filing is $25, and is good for ten years. Although there is no requirement to register a trademark, doing so can often avoid controversies, confusion, and legal problems over the use of similar or identical name or symbol by others.