In Maine, there are specific rules and regulations regarding DBA registration. In this guide, we’ll cover the qualifications for obtaining and keeping an assumed business name in Maine.
What is a Maine “doing business as” (DBA) name?
A DBA name is used when a business wants to conduct business under a different name than its legal name. By registering a DBA name, your business can operate using a different identity.
A DBA name offers small businesses many benefits because of its cost efficiency and the many possibilities of better branding. Registering a DBA name acts as an alternative name for your business while allowing it to maintain its status as a single legal entity. For this reason, registering a DBA name will not require additional tax filings.
For instance, a sole proprietorship must legally operate under the legal name of the owner. Let’s say that the owner of a photography business is named John Smith. His business name would be “John Smith,” while his DBA name could be almost anything, such as “Smith’s Photos.”
Businesses seeking a DBA name often fall into these two categories:
- Sole proprietorships and partnerships: These business owners must use their legal names to operate. For this reason, many sole proprietorships and partnerships choose to use a DBA name so that they can conduct business under a name that more closely represents their business and what they provide.
- Corporations and limited liability companies (LLCs): Corporations and LLCs must have entity designations in their name. For instance, a corporation owner would have to have “Corp.” or “Inc.” in their corporate name, while LLC owners would need some form of “LLC” in their business name. Many businesses with these structures choose a DBA name to drop the designators from their names.
Although not every business will need a DBA name, registering a DBA name comes with several benefits:
- Operate several brands at once: With a DBA name, you can have multiple related businesses under the same ownership. For instance, a health food company selling smoothies and fruit bowls might want to offer a salad bar. Since they can register multiple DBA names under the same business entity, they can present two different public identities.
- Add credibility to your business: A DBA name can add credibility to your business. By using a name that better fits and communicates your business’s purpose, you can define your brand to customers.
- Remain compliant: In Maine, if you would like to conduct business other than the official business name, you will need to register a DBA name to ensure that you’re compliant with local and state guidelines. For example, if your business is a sole proprietorship, you will need to register a DBA name to conduct business with any name other than your legal name.
- Business banking: Often, a DBA name can help businesses establish separate bank accounts. For example, John Smith’s photography business is a sole proprietorship and would be seen as “John Smith” to the bank. However, once John Smith registered his DBA name, the bank would see his business, “Smith’s Photos,” as a separate entity from himself.
- No additional taxes: Since a DBA name is an alternative name for your business, it is not a separate tax entity and will not require additional tax filings from your business.
- Improved privacy: A DBA name allows sole proprietorships and partnerships to go by a name other than the name of the business owner, adding another layer of privacy.
How do I choose a Maine DBA name?
When choosing a DBA name in Maine, you should consider the marketing implications of a new business name. Registering a DBA name empowers businesses to use an alternate, often more marketable name to use. Better branding can help a business stand out while also adding legitimacy to the company.
Aside from curating your brand’s image, it’s important to choose a unique DBA name to ensure that you’re compliant with Maine’s laws for assumed names. We recommend using this lookup tool to conduct a name search to see if another business is using your preferred DBA name. By having a unique business name, it will be easier for customers to find your online and can prevent customers from contacting the wrong business.
Even though Maine businesses have a lot of freedom in choosing a DBA name, there are some restrictions. Individuals, corporations, partnerships, and other business structures cannot use any variation of these words in their DBA name:
- Savings bank
- Trust company
- Trust and banking company
Once you’ve registered a DBA name representing your desired company image, it’s important to register a domain name. The domain name should match your DBA name and help establish and build your brand presence. Although the domain name doesn’t need to be the DBA name verbatim, it should relate to it.
How do I register a Maine DBA name?
Depending on your business structure, there are different steps you need to take to register an assumed name in Maine. For most business types — including corporations, LLCs, nonprofit corporations, limited partnerships, and limited liability partnerships — adopting a DBA name can be done through the Maine Secretary of State, but sole proprietorships and sole partnerships must file with the city or town clerk’s office where they intend to do business.
When completing your registration paperwork, it’s important to note that Maine offers two options for registering a DBA name: assumed name or fictitious name.
Even though fictitious names and assumed names are synonymous in many states, this is not the case in Maine. If you registered your business in Maine, you would select “assumed name” to register a DBA name. On the other hand, if you formed your business outside of Maine, you would check “fictitious name,” as you would be considered a “foreign” business in this state
Although the process for registering a DBA name is similar for several business structures, they have unique forms that can be found on the Bureau of Corporations, Elections, and Commissions’ website:
For a corporation, LLC, limited partnership, and limited liability partnership, you will need to pay $125, while nonprofit corporations are only required to pay $25 to register a DBA name. To complete any form, you will need to fill in the real name of the business, check the box for an assumed or fictitious name, add contact information, sign the document, and fill in the total filing fee(s). It is important to note that most of the documents must be signed by a clerk or any duly authorized officer.
In Maine, sole proprietorships and sole partnerships have different laws for adopting an assumed name. The business owner must apply through their local office of the clerk (city or town in which they conduct business) and provide information regarding their place of residence, name, and designation of the type of business. For example, if you conduct business in Augusta, Maine, you will need to register the assumed name through that city clerk’s office.
All business structures can expedite their service. If you would like your form expedited, you can pay an additional $50 for a 24-hour expedited service. Alternatively, you can pay an additional $100 for immediate filing.
If you would like to pay the filing fee online, you can complete the Credit Card Payment Voucher and send the completed form with the registration paperwork.
You can also mail a check with the form to one of these addresses, depending on your business structure:
Corporate Examining Section
Secretary of State
101 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333-0101
Secretary of State
Division of Corporations, UCC and Commissions
101 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333-0101
How do I manage ongoing DBA name compliance in Maine?
Before a business can conduct business under their assumed name, they must complete the assumed name form. Additionally, they must continue to transact business in compliance with the state’s laws. Maine does not require the renewal of a DBA name. As long as you stay in good standing, you are compliant.
If a business wants to alter its assumed name, it must terminate the use of the assumed name. From there, it can file a new form to register a new DBA name. Assumed and fictitious names cost $20 to terminate for every business structure except nonprofit corporations, which cost $5 to terminate.
More Maine DBA FAQs
How much does it cost to register a Maine DBA name?
To file an “Intent to Do Business Under an Assumed Name,” it costs $125 for most business structures. Only nonprofit corporations will have an assumed name filing fee of $25.
In addition, foreign (out-of-state) corporations can file an “Intent to Do Business Under a Fictitious Name” for $40. Foreign nonprofit corporations must also pay $25 to file.
What is the processing time to register a Maine DBA?
It typically takes between seven and 10 business days for any filings to be processed in Maine. However, if you need to expedite the process, you can pay an additional $50 for a 24-hour service or $100 for immediate filing. These options are available for all business structures.
Do I need a DBA name for my Maine business?
A DBA name is not a requirement for any business structure in Maine. However, it is required for businesses that wish to operate under a name that isn’t their official business name. For this reason, registering a DBA name is often an important step when developing and establishing a brand. By registering a DBA name, a company can choose a name that truly represents their business.
If I register a DBA name in Maine, can another business use the same name?
DBA names allow you to use an alternative name for your business. In Maine, DBA names must be unique.
DBA names also do not protect businesses from trademark infringement. For this reason, every business should check with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to ensure there are no federal trademark violations. In addition to federal trademarks, businesses should make sure their DBA name does not infringe on any trademark in Maine.
Can a business in Maine have multiple DBA names?
A business can have multiple DBA names in Maine. In one case, a business might use two DBA names to differentiate distinctions in their company. For example, a mechanic might want to register a DBA name for their auto shop and use another DBA name for their motorcycle shop.
Is a DBA name the same thing as a fictitious business name in Maine?
In Maine, there is an important distinction between an assumed and a fictitious name. An assumed name applies to in-state businesses. A fictitious name applies to out-of-state corporations, which are also referred to as foreign corporations.
Do I need a DBA name in Maine if I use my own name for a sole proprietorship?
Under a sole proprietorship, you are only allowed to conduct business under your legal name. If you would like to conduct business under an alternative name, you will have to register a DBA name.
Will using a DBA name affect how my business is taxed in Maine?
A DBA name enables businesses to choose an alternative name to operate under and does not require a separate tax filing since it is the same business entity.