Using a DBA name is an important consideration for businesses in Vermont. It presents the opportunity to use a catchy name for your small business instead of just the one that goes on file with the government.
Not only is obtaining a DBA name a useful tool for your business’s branding but if you plan to use any other name than your legal business name, a DBA name is a requirement in Vermont.
Explore our guide on understanding, obtaining, and maintaining a DBA name for your Vermont business. We will take you through the steps of acquiring your DBA name, your legal obligations, and Vermont’s specific requirements for businesses.
What is a Vermont “doing business as” (DBA) name?
A “doing business as” (DBA) name is an alias that a business can use in place of the registered name. In Vermont, this is known as an “assumed business name” and is registered with the Secretary of State. It is important to note that a DBA name does not impact what type of business entity you have, such as a limited liability company (LLC), corporation, or partnership. Therefore, it doesn’t change how you do taxes. Rather, it is an alternate name that can help support your brand and express your company’s persona.
A DBA name can be beneficial to all business types. Many LLCs and corporations find it useful to obtain a DBA name to drop the business designator for ease of paperwork, while sole proprietorships take on a DBA name to operate with an official business name.
There are primarily two categories of businesses that may find it beneficial to register a DBA name:
- Sole proprietorships and partnerships may seek a DBA name so that they can have a legal business name. Otherwise, their business would be advertised under their personal name.
- LLCs and corporations may also prefer to go by an alias, even if it is to drop the business designator, like “LLC” or “Inc.,” from their business name. Another reason this category of business may seek a DBA name is to launch a separate division under the same business.
Formally registering your DBA name gives you the opportunity to use this name for your business through a simple and cost-effective process. Numerous benefits exist when registering for a Vermont DBA name, including the following:
- Branding: You can choose a name that will resonate with customers and express your branding message in a memorable fashion. Take this branding opportunity to the next level when you choose a matching “.com” domain name.
- Transactions: Official business, like invoices, vendor payments, accounts receivable, and banking transactions, can all run smoother with a simple and straightforward business name.
- Compliance: You gain the freedom to conduct business under your DBA name legally and avoid the compliance issues and legal headaches that may come with not having a formally registered name. This is helpful when you plan to use a business name to enter contracts, open bank accounts, and operate in general.
- New business divisions: If you are launching a separate division of the business, you may find it beneficial to obtain a specific DBA name. For example, you may want to expand on your current business, “Smith and Company Clothing,” and add a line of “Smith and Company Athletic Wear.” Using an additional DBA name gives you an inexpensive opportunity to launch your new line without filing a new business entity.
Continue reading for a detailed overview of how to obtain and maintain your Vermont DBA name. We will show you the steps to choose, file, and renew your DBA name in Vermont.
How do I choose a Vermont DBA name?
Choosing a distinctive name that expresses what your business does is one of the most important considerations when choosing your DBA name. Another factor is choosing a name not already taken or too similar to another business. Vermont has a standard that a DBA name must be “distinguishable in the records” from other business names, so it does not confuse the public. To double-check if a DBA name is in use, conduct a name search Vermont’s online database for your desired name.
The exact rules of how to make your name distinguishable can be found here. One example of an acceptable difference is if the words are in reverse order, such as “Red Theatre” versus “Theatre Red.” Conversely, if words only differ in a space or punctuation, such as “ABC House” versus “A.B.C. House,” they are considered too similar and will not get approved. Since it is a requirement for a DBA name to be distinguishable in Vermont, most owners will appreciate that their business name will not get confused with other companies, supporting their efforts to create a powerful brand.
Vermont has some additional rules to keep in mind, as well. Your DBA name cannot contain any discriminatory language, indecent language, or obscene language. It also can’t contain a business designator, like “LLC” or “Inc.,” or include anything deceptive, such as appearing to be affiliated with the government.
How do I register a Vermont DBA name?
As required by Vermont law, registering a DBA name in Vermont is a relatively straightforward process. The only exception to the registration requirement is that individuals doing business under a name that includes their full legal name aren’t required to register their assumed business name. For all other businesses, the steps are as follows:
- Visit Vermont’s Secretary of State website, Assumed Business Name Registration page.
- Ensure first that your business entity has been properly filed. The state recommends consulting with an adviser before filing your business or DBA name. The filing and compliance experts at ZenBusiness can help. The state also notes not to have any printing done until your DBA name is approved and you have received a certificate.
- Search for a name that is distinguishable in the records.
- Review name availability rules.
- Click “Register Online,” which is Vermont’s quickest and preferred method.
- Create an account.
- Enter all necessary business information, such as the type of organization, the person registering, and the business’s complete name and mailing address.
- Pay the $50 filing fee.
- Submit and print a confirmation page for your records.
There is an option to mail your registration, but the state of Vermont prefers and encourages online filing. If you choose not to pursue that option, you can request a form online by completing a forms request on the Secretary of the State website. The form should contain notes on all that is needed to be mailed, but the processing time is extended for mailed documents.
How do I manage ongoing DBA name compliance in Vermont?
Once you have completed your assumed business name registration and received your certificate, your name is secure for five years. However, every five years, you need to renew online and pay the $40 renewal fee.
Assumed business names can only be renewed within two months before the expiration date. If you’re unsure of your expiration date or registration status, you can search for your DBA name online.
Vermont DBA FAQs
How much does it cost to register an Vermont DBA name?
The fee to register your Vermont DBA name is $50. There are no additional fees when filing online. Here is a breakdown of the costs for additional changes and copies of your assumed business name certificate:
- Renewal: $40
- Amendment: $20
- Cessation: $20
- Registered agent or office change:
- Certificate of status: $25
- Certificate copy — plain (uncertified): No fee
- Certificate copy — certified: $25
- Service of process: $25
What is the processing time to register an Vermont DBA?
Online typically takes less than one business day. Filing by mail is a longer process, taking seven to 10 business days. Vermont encourages filing online as the preferred method.
Do I need a DBA name for my Vermont business?
DBA names are not a requirement in Vermont but can be beneficial to many kinds of businesses. A sole proprietorship may wish to do business under a name other than their legal name, or an LLC or corporation may wish to drop the designator from their name.
If I register a DBA name in Vermont, can another business use the same name?
In Vermont, DBA names cannot be exact or too similar to other business names. They must be distinguishable in the records. However, some similarities may occur if they fit into Vermont’s rules for assumed business names. A DBA name alone does not override trademarks, so if you wish to protect your brand fully, obtaining a trademark would be the best approach.
Can a business in Vermont have multiple DBA names?
No limit exists to the number of DBA names you can have in Vermont, which is particularly helpful when you want to create distinct brands under one business. One example of this could be if a photographer expands their wedding photo business to real estate photography services. They may wish to have two separate DBA names, such as “Jay’s Wedding Photography” and “Jay’s Real Estate Photography,” which would have separate branding development opportunities.
Is a DBA name the same thing as a fictitious business name in Vermont?
Other terms used for DBA names include “fictitious names” or “trade names.” However, in Vermont, a DBA name is officially referred to as an “assumed business name.”
Do I need a DBA name in Vermont if I use my own name for a sole proprietorship?
Without a DBA name as a sole proprietor, you would not have the ability to do business under anything other than your legal name. A DBA name gives you the freedom to have an official business name. It is required to obtain a DBA name if you plan to do business under any other name than what is filed with the government.
Will using a DBA name affect how my business is taxed in Vermont?
No, a DBA name does not establish a new business entity. It will not impact your taxes. The type of business entity you file will determine how you are taxed at the local, state, and federal levels.