How to Register a Business Name

Registering a business name is a crucial step in starting a business. This article will guide you through the process of registering your business name and provide helpful tips to ensure that you do it correctly.

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One of the most important aspects of starting a business is registering a business name. Your business name serves as the cornerstone of your brand and helps distinguish you from your competitors. In this article, we will explore the various ways to register a business name, including registering with the state, reserving a name, getting a DBA, applying for trademarks, and obtaining a domain name.

Register your Business with the State

If you’re starting a business that requires you to register with the state, such as a limited liability company (LLC) or corporation, you must have an original business name within the state. Afterward, no other registered business in the state can have the same name. When you register your business with the state, you’ll have the legal right to use the name for your business. However, this doesn’t account for trademarks; if someone has already trademarked your business name, they could challenge you in court.

Reserving a Business Name

If you’re not ready to register your business, most states will allow you to reserve a business name for a set time period, usually 120 days in most states. This is a great way to protect your desired business name while you’re working on getting your business off the ground.

Get a DBA

A DBA, or “doing business as,” name is a legal term that allows you to do business under a name other than your legal name. You may also hear it called a “fictitious name,” “assumed name,” or “trade name.” However, obtaining a DBA doesn’t necessarily give you exclusive rights to that name; it depends on your state.

How to Get a DBA

The process of getting a DBA varies by state. In many states, you can file for a DBA at your county clerk’s office. In other states, you’ll need to apply for a DBA at the state level. Still other states require registration at both the state and local levels.

In some states, you may also be able to file online. It’s essential to check with your state’s requirements to ensure that you’re following the correct process.

Research your state’s requirements

DBA requirements can vary by state, so it’s important to do your research and find out what your state requires. As stated above, some states may require you to file your DBA with the county clerk’s office, while others may require you to file with the Secretary of State or a similar state agency.

Choose your DBA name

Your DBA name should be unique and not already in use by another business in your state. You can check if your desired name is available through your state’s business entity search tool or by contacting your state’s business registration agency.

File your DBA registration

Once you’ve chosen your name, you’ll need to file your DBA registration with the appropriate agency in your state. This typically involves filling out a form and paying a small fee.

Publish a notice of your DBA

Some states require you to publish a notice of your DBA in a local newspaper to notify the public of your new business name. Be sure to check your state’s requirements to see if this step is necessary.

Obtain any necessary permits and licenses

Depending on your business and location, you may need to obtain additional permits and licenses to operate under your DBA. Check with your state and local government agencies to ensure you have all the necessary permits and licenses.

Apply for Trademarks

A trademark is a symbol, word, or phrase that identifies and distinguishes your goods or services from those of another business. There are two types of trademarks: federal and state. Before you choose a business name, it’s essential to conduct a trademark search to ensure that you’re not infringing on another company’s trademark.

Federal Trademarks

A federal trademark protects your business name across the entire United States, while a state trademark only protects your business name within your state. To check if your desired name is available, conduct a trademark search on the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) website. If your desired name is available, you can apply for a trademark by completing an application on the USPTO website.

To apply for a federal trademark, you will need to pay a fee, which varies depending on the type of application and how many classes of goods or services your business will provide. It’s also important to note that obtaining a trademark can be a lengthy process, and it can take several months to over a year to receive approval.

State Trademarks

For state trademarks, the process and fees vary by state, but most states require you to file an application with the state office that oversees trademarks and pay a fee. After submitting the application, the state will review and approve it if the name is available and meets the state’s requirements.

Though not legally required, obtaining a federal or state trademark can help protect your business name and brand identity from infringement. Even if you’re not getting a trademark of your own, though, it’s wise to conduct a thorough search to make sure someone else hasn’t already trademarked your desired business name. If you’re unsure about the process of getting a trademark, it’s best to consult with a legal professional or consider using a trademark registration service.

Get a Domain Name

A domain name is a unique identifier for a website or online presence. It’s what people type into their browsers to access your website. When choosing a domain name, it’s important to consider how it aligns with your business name.

There are many domain registrars where you can purchase a domain name, including ZenBusiness’s domain name service. You can search for available domain names using our domain name search tool. If the domain name you want is already taken, you may need to get creative with your domain name or consider purchasing it from the current owner.

Once you’ve purchased a domain name, you’ll need to connect it to your business website hosting provider. This will allow people to access your website by typing in your domain name.

It’s important to note that while a domain name can be similar to your business name, it’s not the same as registering your business name with the state or obtaining a trademark. It’s simply a way for people to easily find your online presence.

We can help!

At ZenBusiness, we know that starting a business can be overwhelming. That’s why we offer a wide range of services to help you get started. You can use our business filing service to launch your LLC or corporation today for $0. We can help you escape the red tape so you can focus on building your business.

Disclaimer: The content on this page is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal, tax, or accounting advice. If you have specific questions about any of these topics, seek the counsel of a licensed professional.

Register a Business Name FAQs

  • The cost to register a business name in the U.S. is tied to the cost of registering your business with the state because you do both simultaneously. The basic fee for registering a business like an LLC or a corporation can range from $50 to $500, depending on your state.

    You can also choose to reserve a business name for a set period of time if you’re not yet ready to register your business. The fee for this varies by state, ranging from around $10 to $150. Some states also require a publication fee or additional fees for expedited processing.

  • While it is not required to trademark your business name, it can provide legal protection and exclusive rights to use that name nationwide. Trademark fees range from $225 to $600 per class of goods or services. You also have the option of getting a state trademark, which applies only within the borders of your state, but is less expensive and easier to obtain.

  • The cost of a business name depends on various factors, such as the industry, competition, and marketing strategy. It’s important to choose a name that is memorable, unique, and easily searchable. A professional branding agency may charge thousands of dollars for name development, while a do-it-yourself approach may only cost time and effort.

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