If you own a business and would like to use a different name than your legal business name, you will need to register a DBA name, also called an assumed name, fictitious business name, or trade name. DBA names are typically used when you want to use multiple names for one business, or if you are a sole proprietor wanting to be recognized as something other than your legal name.
In Maine, there are specific rules and regulations regarding DBA registration. Read on to learn about the process for obtaining and keeping an assumed business name in Maine, as well as how we can help make the process easy.
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:
Although not every business will need a DBA name, registering a DBA name comes with several benefits:
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 their 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:
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.
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.
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.
Our team of experts can help you every step of the way with your Maine business. If your small business is still in the formation phase, our LLC Formation Services or Corporation Formation Services can help you get started.
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.
Maine Business Resources
Fees are subject to change over time. Check the Secretary of State’s website for the most current fee schedule regarding DBA registration and renewal.
Costs may also vary at the county level for those needing to file for a sole proprietorship or partnership but tend to be minimal.
Processing times can vary depending on whether you file at the state or county level and whether you file online or by mail. In general, filing online will always be faster than filing by mail.
DBA names are not strictly required but can be extremely useful. If you are a sole proprietor or partnership, you cannot legally conduct business under a name other than your personal name(s) without a DBA name. Filing a DBA name lets you name your business separate from yourself.
For LLCs, corporations, and other business types, DBA names allow you to operate portions of your business under different names or to drop your designator or shorten your business’s legal name in a way that makes it catchier or more memorable.
As a general rule, DBA names are not exclusive. This means another business may use the same name if they so choose. If you would like to keep your business name unique and prevent others from using it, you should seek trademark or copyright protection.
There is no limit to the number of DBA names that a business may file. Some businesses just want a single alternative name, while others might find it useful to have dozens of names to separate different portions of their business.
For example, if your business is a statewide Alzheimer’s association, you may want to brand the branches of it by region, such as “The Alzheimer’s Association of Springfield,” and so on.
Yes, a DBA name is just another word for a fictitious name when it comes to Iowa businesses. However, it’s important to note that Iowa makes a distinction between “trade name” as a DBA name for a sole proprietorship or partnership and usually reserves a “fictitious name” for registered business types.
If you plan on doing business only under your exact, legal, personal name, you do not need a DBA name as a sole proprietor. However, if you want to conduct business under any variation of your legal name or another name, or want to add any words to your name in your business title, you will need to register a DBA name with your local county.
A DBA name has no effect on how your business is taxed at the state, local, or federal level. It is simply just an alternative name for your business. All of the laws regarding the taxing and other legalities of your business will be associated with your business type. A DBA name is not a business type, but simply a label. As an analogy, consider that changing a person’s name does not change the laws that apply to them. The same is true of DBA names and businesses.
Most Popular States to Get a DBA Name
When it comes to compliance, costs, and other factors, these are popular states for filing a DBA.
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