How To Get a DBA in North Dakota

If you’re interested in creating a DBA name for your North Dakota business, then use our step-by-step guide. While we don’t currently offer DBA registration services in North Dakota, we can help you with starting a business. Get started below.

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If you own a North Dakota business and would like to use a different name than your legal business name, you will need to register a “doing business as” (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.

We don’t currently offer DBA registration in North Dakota, but you can use this guide as a jumping-off point. Read on to learn about what a DBA is, why you might want one, as well as how to obtain and renew one in the Peace Garden State.

What is an North Dakota “doing business as” (DBA) name?

When a North Dakota business operates using a name different from the owner’s name or the legal name of the partnership, limited liability company (LLC), or corporation, it’s said to be “doing business as.” To be clear, a North Dakota DBA name is an alias for the business and not a business entity type (with the associated legal and tax implications).

DBA names are used throughout the country but often have differences from state to state. A DBA name might also be referred to as a “fictitious name,” “assumed name,” or “trade name.” In North Dakota, a DBA name is known as a “trade name.”

While registering a DBA name is optional in a few states, if you want to use a trade name in North Dakota, you must register it. (“A person or organization may not engage in business in this state under a trade name until the trade name is registered with the secretary of state.”)

The trade name is used to identify the new business or activities of an individual or an organization and doesn’t include the true name of the organization or the first name or surname of each individual using the business name.

North Dakota also handles DBA names differently for general partnerships, calling them “fictitious partnership names.” Any partnership that transacts business in this state “under a fictitious name or under a designation that does not show the names of the persons interested as partners must file a fictitious name certificate with the secretary of state,” with a filing fee.

Neither the North Dakota trade name nor fictitious partnership name can be “deceptively similar” to any name registered with the North Dakota Secretary of State unless the holder of a similar name provides their written consent, which needs to be supplied with the business’s North Dakota DBA name registration.

The types of businesses that would want a DBA name typically fall into two categories:

  • Sole proprietorships and general partnerships: These businesses want a DBA name so that they can be referred to beyond just the person’s legal name. 
  • Corporations and LLCs: These businesses sometimes want a DBA name so that they can drop the designator from their name (for example, “Corp.” or “LLC”). 

Some of the benefits of operating under a North Dakota DBA name include:

  • You can better connect with customers with a DBA name tailored to a different brand or new product offering.
  • While a North Dakota trade name doesn’t grant trademark rights, it can help save you time when applying for a trademark by providing a recorded date that you started associating the DBA name with your products and services.
  • If your legal name is already in use, you can expand into the North Dakota market using a DBA name.
  • A DBA can allow a sole proprietor to open a business bank account under a name that reflects that it’s a business, rather than using the owner’s own name.

How do I register a North Dakota DBA name?

In registering your North Dakota DBA name, you only need to do so at the state level. Businesses can register their North Dakota DBA name online through the Secretary of State web portal after creating an account and receiving a unique login ID that gives them access to a suite of online services. There is a fee for registering your DBA name.

To register your North Dakota DBA name, you need to complete these online fields:

  • The proposed trade name
  • The name and address of the owner of the business, or, if it’s a corporation, LLC, or similar entity, the state or country of incorporation or organization
  • The address of the principal place of business
  • A detailed description of the nature of the business

Note that there is not a registration form to mail in. You would also need to pay a small fee for each written consent you supply (for the use of an existing name). Once done, you will receive a Certificate of Registration, and the name will be indexed in the office of the Secretary of State within 30 days.

How do I choose a North Dakota DBA name?

Depending on your business structure, you must choose a North Dakota trade name or fictitious partnership name that is not “deceptively similar” to an existing name, either reserved or registered with the Secretary of State. You can check what names exist by conducting a name search using the state’s Business Records Search portal.

Other than that, some best practices for choosing a North Dakota DBA name include:

  • Picking a North Dakota DBA name that is consistent with your brand and the products or services you offer
  • Choosing a name that potential customers can easily pronounce and spell
  • Trying to distinguish yourself from competitors
  • Using a name that easily converts to and is available for a web domain name

The North Dakota DBA name you choose should not contain the word “Company,” “Corporation,” “Incorporated,” “Limited,” “Limited Liability Company,” “Limited Partnership,” “Limited Liability Partnership,” “Limited Liability Limited Partnership,” or any abbreviation of any of these unless you are one of these business entities. 

How do I manage ongoing DBA name compliance in North Dakota?

Once you’ve registered your North Dakota DBA name, you’ll need to renew it every five years. At least 90 days before expiration, the Secretary of State will notify your business that it’s time to register again. A business can re-register their DBA name using the same online process they used to register it originally. The Secretary of State may destroy all renewals or registrations one year after they expire.

There’s no form for canceling a trade name. To do so, a business must draft and sign a cancellation request and submit it to the North Dakota Secretary of State with a small fee.

If you want to transfer ownership of your trade name, you can also do it through the North Dakota Secretary of State website for a fee. The trade name assignment does not extend the registration period of a trade name, but the new owner gets the trade name for the remainder of the registration period (and then they would need to renew it).

We can help!

While we don’t currently support DBA registration in North Dakota, 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. 

North Dakota DBA FAQs

  • Because fees are subject to change, check the North Dakota Secretary of State’s website to find a current fee schedule for DBA/assumed name registration.

  • Because the DBA application is filed 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 Dakota 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:

    1. A sole proprietor who wishes to use a business name more descriptive of the work being done, rather than doing business under their legal name.
    2. An LLC or corporation that sells similar items to different populations or is introducing a new line of business separate from other things they’ve done.

    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 in your North Dakota county, that name is then added to the North Dakota Secretary of State’s searchable database.

  • Yes, in North Dakota, 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.”

  • 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 DakotaWill using a DBA name affect how my business is taxed in 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

Disclaimer: The content on this page is for information 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.

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Written by Team ZenBusiness

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