DBA names are primarily used to enhance brand personality and marketing efforts. If you feel that your personal name or business name needs a makeover, a DBA name may be the right decision.
Each state has its own regulations regarding DBA names. Connecticut is no exception. Our Connecticut guide offers an outline of what a DBA name is, choosing a name, registering it, remaining in good standing, and why it makes good sense to have one.
Selecting and maintaining the right name for your business may seem simplistic, but the practicalities can be time-consuming. Read through our guide and decide if you want the experts to help select, file, and maintain a DBA name for your business.
What is a Connecticut “doing business as” (DBA) name?
Business owners can use a DBA name instead of operating under their personal or registered business name. A DBA name presents opportunities that are not necessarily available when using the “true name” of the business, such as improved branding.
The “true name” refers to the legal name of the business. A DBA name is also commonly referred to as an “assumed name” or a “fictitious business name.” Connecticut’s technical term for a DBA name is a “trade name.”
Two main business categories will usually opt for a DBA name. These include:
- Sole proprietorships and partnerships prefer to use trade names because they effectively distinguish businesses from the owners, maintaining separation between the two entities. Other than separation, a DBA name allows owners to present a different business persona to the public.
- Similarly, legally registered businesses, such as limited liability companies (LLCs) and corporations, will file DBA names to improve marketing and advertising potential. A company with a holding name that wants to grow can elect to use a trade name to reflect a specific product line. For example, a clothing business that specializes in baby clothing may want to market a new line of clothing for adults. If the original name is “Baby Bliss,” the adult clothing line might be called “Adult Allure.” Also, shortening names to leave out entity designations, such as “LLC,” is common. A business named “Care Services, LLC” can improve marketing efforts by using a DBA name like “Care Services for Mom and Dad.”
DBA names have excellent benefits for small business owners, but you need to be aware that they do not provide legal assurance. This means that a DBA name is used for identity purposes but does not separate personal and business assets for sole proprietorships and partnerships. LLCs and corporations will also not be absolved of any legal responsibilities by using a DBA name.
Connecticut business owners can freely use DBA names to promote business interests. Filing a DBA name is required in this state if you choose to use a trade name. You still have the option to continue business operations under your legal or “true name” if you choose not to use a DBA name, though.
As informal as regulations are, and with there being no obligation to use a DBA name, its use still holds clear advantages for business owners. For instance, it is advisable to file a DBA name if you want to open a business bank account under a different name than what is registered. Also, a DBA name can sound more professional than using a personal name when conducting business.
How do I choose a Connecticut DBA name?
Distinctive business names are memorable. Memorable names are marketable. Select a trade name for your business that embodies easy recognition, as branding gets your business noticed.
Choosing a DBA name means doing a search to establish that you will not be sharing the same or similar name to another business. Your business should stand out among competitors, so you do not want customers to confuse your business with another. This is a quick way to lose or confuse your target audience before you have a chance to demonstrate the worth of your business.
Of course, DBA names are not required to be unique in Connecticut, but it is worth the effort to choose and register a unique name upfront, even if someone else decides they like it in the future.
Go to the Connecticut Business Registry Search to see whether your DBA name is available. Due to pressures caused by recent shutdowns, the Secretary of State requests that only this C.O.N.C.O.R.D. search system be used.
As with most other states, the use of certain words in the DBA name are not allowed. For example, Stamford states on its website that “Certain words related to banks, trusts, and savings are prohibited from use.” Unless the business is a registered financial institution, such names are regarded as misleading to the public.
How do I register a Connecticut DBA name?
Connecticut follows its own regulations when it comes to trade name registration. Each city has its own rules, and while the Department of Revenue Services (DRS) can be used for name changes and amendments, the trade name registration form must be accessed from the specific city’s Town Clerk.
After confirming your trade name through the Connecticut Business Registry Search, follow these steps to get your Connecticut trade name registered:
- Go to the Town Clerk where the business will be operating. Request a trade name registration form.
- Alternatively, do a search to determine whether the specific city offers an online registration system. For example, Stamford does provide an online name search, but the form must be mailed or delivered in person for processing.
- Complete the relevant parts of the form to get the DBA name registered. Some forms may differ between cities, as cancellation and amendment options are available on the same document. Typically, the legal names of the applicants, trade name, physical addresses, and signatures are required on the form.
- When the DBA name is for an LLC or C corporation, the authorized officer’s details are sufficient to act on behalf of the corporation to complete this form. The form for a registered company must be filed with the Secretary of State.
- Conversely, if registered companies have filed for formal company registration on C.O.N.C.O.R.D., a DBA name must be filed with the Town Clerk.
- The fee will vary by city. For example, the fee for submission of this application in Stamford is $10.
- The applicant will be required to state that they intend to do business in the town where they complete and submit the form.
- The IRS requires state and federal tax identification numbers to be obtained. Forms are available on the IRS website.
- Keep copies of all forms and documents submitted to the Town Clerk.
- You may request a certified copy of your application for record purposes.
- All trade name registration forms must be notarized by the Town Clerk or another authorized person at this office.
- Expedited filing with the Secretary of State takes place for businesses registered on C.O.N.C.O.R.D. Additional information related to processing times can be seen in the FAQ at the end of this guide.
How do I manage ongoing DBA name compliance in Connecticut?
Connecticut is quite unique in that no trade name renewals are required for sole proprietorships. Because each city stipulates its own requirements, forms and costs may differ. For example, Stamford charges $10 for each “Certificate of Registration of Trade Name” on which DBA name amendments must be made. Likewise, the same form is used to cancel a name.
Corporations and LLCs registered with the Connecticut Secretary of State must make name changes through this office. Name change approvals should then be mailed to the Department of Revenue Services, Registration Unit, 450 Columbus Blvd., Hartford, CT 06103.
All the documentation proving that the name has been changed at the Secretary of State’s office should be provided to the IRS.
Should the IRS request a change of the EIN when the name change is done, a new tax number will also need to be obtained to coincide with this change. Existing EIN and tax numbers will then need to be closed via the DRS by completing the relevant form when making the DBA name change.
Connecticut DBA FAQs
How much does it cost to register a Connecticut DBA name?
Connecticut DBA name filing costs between $5 and $20, depending on the city where you file the application. All Connecticut DBA names must be filed with the respective Town Clerk where your business operates. Check if online form submissions are possible, as each city provides its own forms, and fees may differ. DBA name renewal and trade name changes will have to be done in the same way.
What is the processing time to register a Connecticut DBA?
Each city handles its own filing, so it is difficult to identify clear processing guidelines. Stamford processes its forms in seven to 10 business days, which provides an indication of how long other cities may take.
For sole proprietors and partnerships, expedited registration via overnight courier with a self-addressed envelope is requested. On receipt of the DBA name forms, a confirmation will be returned to the sender the following day, according to Stamford. After completing the process of filing in Stamford, you should receive confirmation that your trade name has been approved within seven to 10 days via normal mail. If not, follow up with the local Town Clerk, where the trade name registration form was filed.
Expedited filing with the Secretary of State will take place in accordance with their instructions for registered companies. An email must be sent to email@example.com containing the word “Expedited” in the subject line. Completion of DBA name registration will take place by 4 p.m. on the following workday. Applications under review may take a little longer than one workday.
Do I need a DBA name for my Connecticut business?
As with many other states, a sole proprietor in Connecticut is not legally required to use a DBA name. They can operate a business using their legal name. However, they will miss out on the advantages of operating under a DBA name, which can improve marketing, enhance privacy, and be beneficial when opening a bank account. Failure to file a DBA name may attract penalties if the sole proprietor uses a trade name, though.
Unlike sole proprietorships, corporations and LLCs must file a DBA name with the Secretary of State if they choose to use one.
If I register a DBA name in Connecticut, can another business use the same name?
Trade names or DBA names are not required to be unique across Connecticut. Conduct a search in your town to find out if the name has been taken by another business. Some cities do have online databases to aid in the search process. For example, Norwalk and Stamford have such digital records. Unfortunately, many towns only keep manual records, which will make the process of name-checking more laborious. Two such towns are Fairfield and Bridgeport.
The name search facility on C.O.N.C.O.R.D. does offer an alternative to checking name availability. One way to overcome the lack of originality of the trade name is to replace it with a federal trademark, obtainable via the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
Of course, all these processes can become overwhelming. Knowing where to go, who to see, and what to do to get a DBA or trade name is time-consuming. ZenBusiness specializes in business support, and our expert team is happy to make the DBA name registration process simple for you.
Can a business in Connecticut have multiple DBA names?
Multiple DBA name use in Connecticut is common. Businesses tend to use several additional names for marketing and branding reasons. This level of flexibility encourages the use of many names to drive business growth.
One business may have several product lines that it wants to advertise in various target markets. An example of this would be a food company that focuses on the fast-food market but wants to branch out into health food or into a niche beverage market. Two additional DBA names would be needed to support this growth strategy. If the same company wanted to open an additional coffee business, they would be able to file a third DBA name or more.
Is a DBA name the same thing as a fictitious business name in Connecticut?
DBA names are referred to as “assumed names,” “fictitious names,” and “trade names.” Essentially, these all mean the same thing. Connecticut has elected to use the term “trade name” for administrative purposes.
Do I need a DBA name in Connecticut if I use my own name for a sole proprietorship?
Connecticut does not require sole proprietors to file a DBA name unless they are conducting business under any name other than their legal name. Sole proprietors can choose a DBA name that is more reflective of the nature of their business if this suits their goals.
Sole proprietors should be aware that if they do decide on a DBA name, the law does not treat the business identity as separate from the owner. Connecticut does not allow personal name use as a DBA name since these are already legally registered.
As discussed, the DBA name is optional but encompasses many benefits for the business owner. Among these benefits are improved business branding for marketing and advertising purposes. Also, a DBA name offers another level of privacy in keeping personal names and business names distinct. This strategy is particularly useful when opening a business bank account.
Will using a DBA name affect how my business is taxed in Connecticut?
The filing of a DBA name does not establish a separate legal entity. What it does is establish a separate business identity.
We have compiled a comprehensive guide to walk you through the steps to file a DBA name for your Connecticut business. Even though some of these steps may seem intimidating, they are designed to help you get a DBA name that promotes business success.
If you still feel that you need help, our experts in business formation also provide a myriad of other services so that you can focus on your core business.