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Get a DBA Name for Your Kentucky Business Today

When you create your Kentucky business, you have the option of registering a “doing business as” (DBA) name. This allows you to do business using a name other than the full legal name you formally registered with the Secretary of State. A DBA name is useful for various reasons, from branding purposes to business banking.

Every state has its own legislation governing the use of DBA names, and the commonwealth of Kentucky is no exception. Below, we provide detailed instructions on DBA registration and maintain your DBA name.

What is a Kentucky “doing business as” (DBA) name?

When establishing a new business in the commonwealth of Kentucky, you are bound by certain legal requirements regarding the name. For instance, Kentucky statutes require that a corporation’s legal name must end with the words “Corporation,” “Company,” or “Limited,” or a fitting abbreviation (“Corp.,” “Inc.,” “Co.,” or “Ltd.”).

Needless to say, the full business name, including the entity designation, can be a mouthful. A DBA name allows you to conduct business under a simplified moniker that’s more streamlined. This has many advantages, including easier marketing and branding.

In Kentucky, a DBA name is officially called an “assumed name.” You may see other terms used for a DBA name, such as “assumed business name,” “fictitious name,” or “trade name.” The precise terminology varies between states.

Whatever the term used, a DBA name is simply an alias. It’s not a formal business entity, like a limited liability company (LLC) or corporation. Registering a DBA name thus won’t impact reporting or tax requirements. It also doesn’t entail exclusivity in the way that a copyright or trademark would.

In general, a DBA name is recommended for two main types of business structures:

  • Sole proprietorships and partnerships: Sole proprietorships have just one business owner, while partnerships have multiple owners. In either case, the business entity is referred to by the owner’s or owners’ name(s). With a DBA name, the business can be referred to by an assumed name instead of the owner’s/owners’ names.
  • Corporations and LLCs: Corporations and LLCs often opt to use an assumed name to better present their brand. For instance, take a corporation that is legally named “Parkville Auto Shop, Inc.” A more succinct version like “Parkville Autos” is easier to incorporate into marketing materials like signage.

Whatever type of business model you have, if you want to operate under a name other than the one you’ve legally registered with the commonwealth, you must formally register that assumed name. In Kentucky, you will have to register with the county clerk or Secretary of State, depending on the type of business entity.

Additionally, DBA filing in Kentucky brings other business benefits:

  • Stay legally compliant: You don’t want to get into hot water legally because you did business under a nonregistered name. By registering your assumed name, you ensure compliance with Kentucky law and avoid needless headaches (and possible fines or other penalties).
  • Enjoy improved security: Owners of sole proprietorships or partnerships may not want their legal names to be the point of reference for their business. As noted above, this is the default approach for these business entities. A DBA name protects the privacy of owners.
  • Protect business individuality: Registering an assumed name in Kentucky doesn’t give you exclusivity in the way that a trademark or copyright would. However, the law requires that each assumed name be distinguishable from others on the record. That means once you’ve claimed your assumed name, others can’t use it.
  • Enhance marketing versatility: Having a unique business name helps you stand out from the crowd of competition. An assumed name also enhances your marketing opportunities by providing a concise moniker. A full legal name, including words like “Corporation,” can be clunky and difficult to incorporate into your marketing materials. A DBA name simplifies matters.
  • Make banking easier: Creating a separate business bank account helps to separate your personal and business finances. This is practical and also helps protect your private assets in case your business faces problems like bankruptcy or lawsuits. Once you’ve registered your assumed name, you can open a business bank account under that name.

Completing the paperwork to file for an assumed name in Kentucky lets you tap into these benefits. What do you have to do? This guide breaks down the process into simple steps, allowing you to secure your Kentucky business’s assumed name.

How do I choose a Kentucky DBA name?

An assumed name can help your Kentucky business thrive by opening up a world of marketing opportunities. Selecting a suitable name that can be easily adapted for everything from websites to business cards will help. When brainstorming a business name, you want something that isn’t too long, complex, or difficult to remember. Your name should also give people some idea of what products and services you offer.

Marketing technicalities aside, Kentucky also has laws governing trade names. Here are the rules to follow:

  • The name can’t include words that would cause someone to confuse your business with a government agency (such as “state department”).
  • The word “Cooperative” can only be used with explicit approval from the Secretary of State.
  • You can’t use certain restricted words, including “Attorney” or “Doctor,” without providing paperwork attesting to your ability to provide such business services.

Last but not least, it’s important that your assumed name is unique within the commonwealth of Kentucky. According to the law, “The assumed name must be a name that is distinguishable upon the records of the Secretary of State from any other name filed and on record with the Secretary of State.”

To avoid needless hassle and disappointment, it’s best to make sure nobody else is using your desired assumed name before you submit the application to the Kentucky commonwealth. To do so, conduct a name search of the Kentucky Secretary of State’s online business organization database. Simply enter the business name you want to use, and you will get up to 250 results.

Do you want to make sure all aspects of your business remain legally compliant? Let ZenBusiness handle the administration stuff and paperwork while you devote your energy to growing your business.

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A business website is a valuable, low-cost marketing tool. As you write down a list of potential assumed names, you should also check whether there are fitting domain names available for each one. Aligning your website address with your assumed name makes it easier for customers to find you online. ZenBusiness’s Domain Name Registration services take care of the tedious work for you. Our professionals do the research to make sure a domain is free and will even register it for you.

How do I register a Kentucky DBA name?

If you decide that you want an assumed name in Kentucky, you can start the registration process. In Kentucky, you can submit your application for a Certificate of Assumed Name via mail or in person. The below step-by-step guide explains what you have to do to formally register the name with the commonwealth of Kentucky.

  1. Download and print the form “Certificate of Assumed Name (Domestic or Foreign Business Entity).”
  2. Specify the assumed name you want to use.
  3. Provide the full legal name of your business entity and the type of formal business entity. If you are a sole proprietorship, you must file with your local county clerk’s office (find yours via this online directory). Other entities can file via the Secretary of State. (Some counties also required other entities to file at the county level in addition to the state level, so you will need to check with your local government.)
  4. Specify the date when the assumed name is meant to take effect.
  5. Confirm the state and county the business is being organized in.
  6. Provide the business mailing address.
  7. Pay the filing fee of $20. Checks should be made out to “Kentucky State Treasurer.”
  8. Mail the document and filing fee to: 

Office of the Secretary of State
Division of Business Filings
P.O. Box 718
Frankfort, KY 40602

Alternatively, you can bring the form in person. The hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. In this case, bring it to:

Office of the Secretary of State
Division of Business Filings
Room 154, Capitol Building
700 Capital Avenue
Frankfort, KY 40601

If you have any questions, visit sos.ky.gov or call 502-564-3490.

How do I manage ongoing DBA name compliance in Kentucky?

Once the commonwealth of Kentucky has approved your assumed name registration, you should be all set to start doing business under your DBA name. That said, a Kentucky DBA name doesn’t last forever. You have to renew your name every five years by completing the form “Certificate of Renewal of Assumed Name (Domestic or Foreign Business Entity).”

You can submit the paperwork via mail or in person. Simply download, print, and complete the form. You will have to pay a $20 filing fee upon submission. Checks can be made out to “Kentucky State Treasurer.” 

If you decide to mail the form, send it to: 

Office of the Secretary of State
Division of Business Filings
P.O. Box 718
Frankfort, KY 40602

If you prefer to drop the form off in person, head to:

Office of the Secretary of State
Division of Business Filings
Room 154, Capitol Building
700 Capital Avenue
Frankfort, KY 40601

Make sure you go during operating hours (8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.).

You may want to change your DBA name at some point. Note that you must update state records whenever you want to revise your assumed name in Kentucky. It’s not complicated. All you have to do is complete the “Amended Certificate of Assumed Name” form and pay a $20 filing fee. Then, send it by mail or bring it in person to the Secretary of State’s Division of Business Filings (see the address directly above).

Finally, you may also choose to cancel your DBA name. You might be winding down the business, for instance, or want to change your name completely instead of renewing it. In this case, complete the “Certificate of Withdrawal of Assumed Name” and submit the paperwork to the Secretary of State’s Division of Business Filings, as instructed above. Again, make sure to include a $20 filing fee with a check made out to the “Kentucky State Treasurer.”

When you’re busy running a business, staying on top of your business compliance is likely the last thing on your mind. Let ZenBusiness take care of administrative hassles so that you can focus on the important things.

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More Kentucky DBA FAQs

How much does it cost to register a DBA name in Kentucky?

To register a Kentucky DBA name (“assumed name” according to the commonwealth’s language), you have to complete the Certificate of Assumed Name. You can send the form via mail or submit it in person. In either case, a $20 filing fee applies. Make a check out to “Kentucky State Treasurer.”

Additionally, there are the costs of maintaining your assumed name for your Kentucky business. The original DBA name is valid for only five years. Before it expires, complete the Certificate of Renewal of Assumed Name. Again, this can be submitted via mail or in-person. In both cases, a $20 filing fee applies.

What is the processing time to register a DBA name in Kentucky?

Kentucky allows you to file for your DBA name in-person or via mail. To avoid holdups, you may want to submit the paperwork in person. You can then also ask about estimated processing times.

Do I need a DBA name for my Kentucky business?

You aren’t technically obligated to have a DBA name for your Kentucky business. If you’re OK with using your full, legal business name for all business purposes, it’s not necessary. That said, having a DBA is very helpful.

Simply being able to use an abbreviated version of your company name minus the entity indicator (like “LLC” or “Inc.”) allows you to create catchier marketing materials. A DBA name also helps protect your privacy if you’re operating a sole proprietorship or partnership — without it, your business will simply be referred to by the business owner’s/owners’ name(s).

If I register a DBA name in Kentucky, can another business use the same name?

A Kentucky DBA name doesn’t provide exclusivity in the way that a copyright or trademark would. However, the commonwealth of Kentucky does require that every assumed name be distinguishable from other names on the record. So, once you’ve claimed a certain assumed name, no other business can use it for as long as you maintain it.

Can a business in Kentucky have multiple DBA names?

You are allowed to use different DBA names for different business purposes. Say you own a catering business, for example. You specialize in a few different types of catering, including corporate gigs and weddings. You might request different DBA names, one for the corporate side of your business and one for the wedding side. This allows you to develop a fully formed, cohesive brand for both business tangents.

Is a DBA name the same thing as a fictitious business name in Kentucky?

A DBA name is used by a business as an alias. There are other terms for DBA names, including “trade name,” “assumed business name,” or “fictitious name.” The terminology varies between states. In Kentucky, the standard legal term for a DBA name is an “assumed name.”

Do I need a DBA name in Kentucky if I use my own name for a sole proprietorship?

As a sole proprietor, you are required to do business under your own name. You can’t use an alias or moniker. Some people find this inconvenient for branding purposes or privacy reasons. Registering an assumed name for your business in Kentucky allows you to legally use this alias to conduct business, for instance, when opening a business bank account.

Will using a DBA name affect how my business is taxed in Kentucky?

A DBA name is not a formal business entity like an LLC or a corporation. Registering a DBA name will thus not change the taxation or reporting requirements for your business. Your DBA name is simply an alias.

If you need help getting your business off the ground or with any administrative work, consult ZenBusiness. We can make sure the formation process goes smoothly by ensuring that your business is legally compliant and that all paperwork is handled. While our experts take care of the details, you can focus on getting your Kentucky small business off the ground!

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