As a small business owner in North Carolina, you are probably wondering if your business requires a “doing business as” (DBA) name. Whether to register a DBA name is an important consideration, and there are several reasons you might want one.
We currently don’t support DBA registration in North Carolina, but this guide can steer you in the right direction. Read on to learn what a DBA name is and what it does (and doesn’t do) for your business, as well as the process for obtaining and maintaining one in the Tar Heel State.
A DBA name is also sometimes called a trade name, fictitious name, or assumed name. In North Carolina, the official term is “assumed name.” Whatever it’s called, having a registered DBA name allows you to do business using a specific name other than your business’s legal name. It also allows you to run your business with minimal costs.
It’s important, though, to understand what a DBA name will not do for your business. Unlike a registered business structure, a DBA name will not provide you with legal protections related to your personal assets or those of your business partners. It also will not affect your tax structure. Essentially, a DBA name provides an alias for your business.
The types of businesses seeking an assumed name often fall into these two categories:
Some additional reasons a business may want to use a DBA name include:
Are you ready to register your assumed name? This guide will take you through the process of selecting the right name and filing your application. We’ll also address maintaining your DBA name.
Once you complete your research and find the perfect name (more on how to do that in later sections), it’s time to complete the application to register your “Assumed Business Name Certificate” with the office of the Register of Deeds in the county where you will be engaged in business. Once accepted, your DBA name will be added to the statewide database maintained by the Secretary of State. Once you have the form, there are several things to fill out:
Include the required filing fee when you return the application to the Register of Deeds.
Choosing the right DBA name for your business is an important decision, so take some time to make it. There are several considerations to keep in mind. A good business name will be distinctive — preferably in a way that clarifies what type of business you do and also sticks in customers’ minds. You don’t want it to be too hard to spell or a name you will regret down the road as your business grows.
One of the most important steps in deciding on your DBA name is using North Carolina’s assumed name lookup tool. This tool will help you conduct a name search and find any businesses with the same or similar names to your choices. You will likely benefit from picking a unique name to avoid confusion for your customers. Searching for similar business names will also help ensure you comply with the naming rules that North Carolina has in place. In North Carolina, you must make sure your business name:
Once you have your name narrowed down to a few possibilities, take a moment to determine if the domain name is available. You don’t want to go through all the steps of finalizing a DBA name and then realize you can’t use it for your internet presence. Don’t let this slow you down, though, as ZenBusiness is here to help. Our domain name registration services can help you secure the right web address for your business.
North Carolina DBA names don’t expire and, therefore, do not need renewals. However, if any of the information provided on the application changes, you’re required to submit an amendment within 60 days of the change, along with the required fee.
Likewise, if you decide to shut down your business or stop using a particular DBA name, you’ll need to file a withdrawal application with the fee.
While we don’t currently support DBA registration in North Carolina, we can help you create one in states we do support, including Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, and Utah. We can make creating a DBA name in another state simple.
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.
Because fees are subject to change, check the North Carolina Secretary of State’s website to find a current fee schedule for DBA/assumed name registration.
Because the DBA application is filed with the Registrar of Deeds in the counties where the company does business, filing times will likely vary. Keep in mind that if you mail your application, you need to allow a few days for the application to be received.
Having a registered DBA name is not required in North Carolina unless you plan on doing business under an assumed name. If you do, you are not legally allowed to do business until the name is registered. For example, if you have formed an LLC and plan to drop the “LLC” designator from your business name, you must register a DBA name.
Registering your DBA name is advantageous for a number of other reasons, including:
The good news is that if you decide to register a DBA name for your business, the process is simple.
Unfortunately, DBA names are generally not considered exclusive. Having said that, once you register your DBA name with the Register of Deeds in your North Carolina county, that name is then added to the North Carolina Secretary of State’s searchable database.
Yes, in North Carolina, you can apply for up to five DBA names on the same application. This is useful for businesses that may operate in distinct areas. For example, if a restaurant owner has more than one restaurant, they may want to obtain a DBA name for each restaurant.
The term “DBA name” is often used interchangeably with “assumed name” or “fictitious name.” In North Carolina, the official term used is “assumed name.”
Your sole proprietorship does not need to file a DBA name if you plan to do business under your own legal name. However, if at any point you want to use another name, North Carolina requires you to register a DBA name first.
No. A DBA name is basically an alias for your business and will not affect how your business is taxed at any level. It also does not provide you with any additional legal protections. The legal structure you have set up for your business — a sole proprietorship, LLC, partnership, corporation, etc. — will determine the legal and tax implications
North Carolina Business Resources
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.