While not all New Jersey businesses will need a DBA name, those who choose to use a name different from registered are required to file for a DBA name. There’s a lot of confusion surrounding DBA names, so in this guide, we’ll walk you through what a DBA name is, how to register one, and how to keep it compliant.
What is a New Jersey “doing business as” (DBA) name?
No matter your business entity type (sole proprietorship, limited liability company, corporation, or nonprofit), your business may need a DBA name. A DBA name is used whenever your company goes by a name other than the official name registered with the state.
However, in New Jersey, businesses will register an alternate name or trade name, depending on their business type. Alternate names are for entities, such as corporations, LLCs, and limited partnerships, while sole proprietors and partnerships register for a trade name.
An alternate or trade name can be beneficial for different reasons. If you’re trying to build out product lines or different branches of your business, you could sell items or services under an alternate or trade name that better aligns with this niche and your consumers but still ties back to your company. For instance, if you own an LLC called “Corporate Developers” but wish to sell beauty and hair care products under a separate name, “Beauty Developers,” you would secure an alternate name.
Having an alternate or trade name (or multiple alternate or trade names) can help your company grow and expand, so you can reach more consumers and grow your reach.
Alternate and trade names are often used by certain entity types, which include:
- Sole proprietorships and partnerships: If you have a sole proprietorship or partnership, your business is referred to by your legal name. However, if you want to use a separate company name, reserving a trade name is your best option. This way, instead of operating as Jane Smith, you can operate as “J. Smith Consulting Services.”
- LLCs and corporations: LLCs and corporations can take advantage of creating branches within their company under alternate names. In addition, since these registered business entities are required to have a designator in their names, securing an alternate name allows LLCs and corporations to drop those designations when operating under a DBA name. In addition, if you want to test a line of products or services without making it obvious that your company is selling them, an alternate name can help create perceived separation to consumers.
Some additional benefits that your company can enjoy by registering an alternate or trade name include:
- Lets your company choose a name that resonates with customers and better represents a specific industry or niche
- Offers you the freedom to file business paperwork, open bank accounts, and run payroll under a DBA name, rather than always tying this information back to your official name
- Provides privacy for sole proprietors and partnerships, who would otherwise have to use their legal names
Now that you know how important a DBA name can be for your business, you might wonder how to obtain one. Next, we’ll run through all of the relevant steps you’ll need to take to obtain an alternate or trade name in New Jersey.
How do I choose a New Jersey DBA name?
When choosing an alternate name or trade name, it’s important to select a name that satisfies state laws and takes marketing concerns into consideration.
You’ll want to come up with a list of names that fit well in a particular niche and accurately demonstrate the product, service, or solution you’re selling. We recommend choosing a few different options for the next step. In addition, if you plan to build a separate website or brand presence for this name, you’ll want to perform a domain search to find out if your web domain is available.
Once you have your list, it’s time to review New Jersey state laws to ensure you choose a DBA name that satisfies all state requirements. In New Jersey, you’ll need to make sure you avoid derogatory or offensive wording and must ensure the name you choose is not already trademarked by another business. You also can’t use a name prohibited by state laws, such as “those governing banking, insurance, and real estate, or involving the Professional Services Act in Title 14A.”
How do I register a New Jersey DBA name?
Next, we’ll look at how to register an alternate or trade name for your New Jersey business. We’ll walk you through the process of registering in both scenarios.
Registering an Alternate Name (for Registered Entities)
- Choose your alternate name and ensure it’s available for use.
- Fill out form C-150G: “Registration of Alternate Name.” You’ll need to enter the below information:
- Your business entity
- Your official company name
- Your NJ 10-digit ID number
- The date of initial formation/origination
- The alternate name you want to register
- The purpose of the alternate name
- Details on the previous usage of the alternate name (You need to register your alternate name before you use it, but if it’s in use before registration, you’ll be charged an additional fee for each year the name was in use.)
- Pay a $50 filing fee to complete your registration. Make checks payable to “Treasurer, State of New Jersey.”
You can fill out form C-150G online, via mail, in person, or via fax. You should also file this document in duplicate unless you are a nonprofit, in which you should file in triplicate. Alternate names are good for five years in New Jersey.
New Jersey Division of Revenue and Enterprise Services
P.O. Box 308
Trenton, NJ 08646
New Jersey Division of Revenue and Enterprise Services
33 West State Street, 5th Floor
Trenton, NJ 08608
Registering a Trade Name (for Sole Proprietorships and Partnerships)
- If you’re a sole proprietor or partner looking to use a trade name, you can register one in the county or counties where your business operates.
- You’ll need to fill out a Trade Name Certificate at your county clerk’s office. Some offices will have these forms available online.
- Some county requirements may vary, but you’ll typically need the below information:
- Your legal name
- The trade name to be used
- The company entity type
- The business purpose
- The registered agent name and address
- Filing fees vary across counties. You may also need to have your form notarized.
- You’ll also need to provide a duplicate copy to the county clerk to forward to the Secretary of State.
How do I manage ongoing DBA name compliance in New Jersey?
Some states require specific advertising steps to be taken when obtaining a DBA name. However, in New Jersey, no additional steps are required after submitting your alternate or trade name paperwork and paying your registration fee.
To remain compliant with state laws, though, you must renew your alternate name (using the alternate name renewal form) every five years. You can also renew using the online portal. Renewals can be submitted within three months before the alternate name expires. If you’d like to change your alternate name, you’ll submit a new C-150G form.
More New Jersey DBA FAQs
How much does it cost to register a New Jersey DBA name?
It costs $50 to register an alternate name in New Jersey (for registered entities), and you’ll pay $25 to $50 every five years to renew your alternate name, depending on your entity type. The cost to register a trade name (sole proprietorships and partnerships) will vary from county to county.
What is the processing time to register a New Jersey DBA?
If you register your alternate name online in New Jersey, your request will be processed within a few business days. In-person filing, fax filing, and mail-in filings can take one to two weeks longer, depending on the current backlog.
However, expedited processing (within 8.5 business hours) is available for filings received by fax, hand delivery, or mail. The fee is $15 for corporations, nonprofits, and limited partnerships and $25 per filing for LLCs.
Processing will vary for trade names, as those are registered at the county level.
Do I need a DBA name for my New Jersey business?
You do not need an alternate or trade name to operate in New Jersey. However, alternate or trade names can be helpful when launching new product lines or wanting to have a bit more privacy.
If I register a DBA name in New Jersey, can another business use the same name?
Technically, registering an alternate name does not grant your company exclusive rights to that business name. If you would like to ensure exclusivity, we recommend registering a trademark at the state level. To do this, you’ll first check the New Jersey Business Records Service to ensure no existing trademark exists on the alternate name.
Next, you’ll register a trademark on your alternate name by filling out form TMSM-01: “Original Application to Register a Trade or Service Mark.” There is a $50 base fee, plus a $15 expedited fee (serviced in 8.5 business hours) or a $100 same-day filing fee. This can be filed online, via mail, in-person, or by fax.
You may also want to use the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) database to check for any federal trademarks.
Can a business in New Jersey have multiple DBA names?
Yes, you can register numerous alternate or trade names for your New Jersey business. For instance, let’s say you own a consulting company called “Garden State Consulting Pros” and want to expand your brand to social media management, general marketing services, and public relations help. You might register alternate or trade names for each new service line, such as “Garden State Social Media Pros,” “Garden State Marketing Pros,” and “Garden State Public Relations Pros.”
Is a DBA name the same thing as a fictitious business name in New Jersey?
In New Jersey, the term “DBA name” is used only by foreign (out-of-state) businesses looking to sell products or services in New Jersey. Domestic businesses cannot secure a DBA name.
However, domestic businesses will register for an alternate or trade name. These are similar in nature to the term “fictitious business name.”
Do I need a DBA name in New Jersey if I use my own name for a sole proprietorship?
If you’re a sole proprietor and wish to sell services under a different name than your legal name, you’ll need to register a trade name.
Will using a DBA name affect how my business is taxed in New Jersey?
No, obtaining an alternate or trade name will not establish a new business entity or impact how your company is taxed.