There are many cases where you will need to do business under a different name. This can be for certain legal reasons, marketing purposes, or to avoid confusion regarding your business’s original name.
But when this happens, you can’t simply change the name on your business cards and website and be done with it. Instead, there is a specific process that must be followed to make sure you are compliant with state regulations as well as the rules set by your bank.
Below, we’ll explain this entire process so you can better understand how to apply for and use a Certificate of Assumed Business name.
What Is a Certificate of Assumed Business Name?
A certificate of assumed business name is essentially a registration with your state that informs them you are doing business under a name that’s different from the name of your limited liability company (LLC), corporation, or any other business entity.
For example, let’s assume you formed an LLC with the name XYZ Auto Repair. But for various reasons, you now want to do business as Joe’s Car & Truck Service. You can do this without creating a new LLC.
Instead, you would register for a certificate of assumed business name with your state. This informs the state that you will be doing business under the new name. The certificate can also be used to allow you to do banking under your original LLC name or the new name.
Business Name vs. Assumed Name
Your business name is the name you chose when you selected and registered your original business entity. If you incorporated, then your business name is the name on those incorporation papers.
Your assumed name is an additional name you choose to do business under in a specific state. It can be different from your original business name. The reason for this is that the state has a way to determine who is the true owner of a business. It also allows consumers to look up this public information if they choose.
Without these certificates, people could do business under false names and it would be hard to determine the original business behind it all.
Assumed Name vs. DBA vs. Fictitious Name
These are essentially interchangeable and are determined based on the state you are registering in.
Each state has its own way of wording this registration. Some call it a DBA (doing business as), while other states call it an assumed name or fictitious name. However, these all serve the same fundamental purpose even if each state has variations on the process and name.
There can be a slight difference in the definition of “doing business as” depending on the state. Some states use that phrase as the criteria for registering your new name whether or not you need to do so.
Who Must File for an Assumed Business Name?
Any business or individual who plans on providing a product or service under a different name than their registered entity name or personal name must file for a certificate of assumed business name.
An example would be if an individual is operating as a sole proprietorship but wants to do business under a name different from their personal name. They would need to register for an assumed business name or DBA.
If an LLC was registered under one name but the owner wanted to conduct business under a different name, it would also need a certificate of assumed business name or DBA.
These documents are required by state law and will also be usually required by banks if you plan on accepting payments under the new assumed name or DBA.
Why Should You File for an Assumed Business Name?
There are several reasons why you would need to file for an assumed business name, a few of which are listed below.
Your original LLC name may not be appealing or appropriate for the current type of product or service you are offering. By changing it, you can increase your marketing potential and brand awareness.
To Avoid Confusion
Sometimes a larger business will have a name similar to your business in a totally different industry. This can cause confusion among consumers and even in search results. By using an assumed name, you can avoid this and choose a unique name.
To Branch Off or Expand
If you want to offer a different product or service to expand your business, sometimes it requires a new and more appropriate name.
For example, if you sell home furnishings under one name but now want to expand into selling commercial office furniture, it may be wise to create a new assumed name to sell the office furniture that better speaks to customers.
If you’re an individual doing business as a sole proprietor, you may not want to use your legal name for privacy or other reasons. In this case, you can use an assumed name and protect your privacy.
You’ll also need to do this if you want to accept payments under a name other than your legal name.
There may be a situation where an individual or business that has a similar name to yours is in the news for something negative or illegal. You may want to avoid this false name association and create a new assumed name.
How to File for a Certificate of Assumed Business Name?
If you’ve decided you need to register an assumed business name, there are a few steps you’ll need to follow:
1. Reach Out to Your Local Office
Every state does this a little differently and that includes which agency you have to contact to register. It’s usually a clerk’s office, the Secretary of State’s office, or a similar agency within your state.
A good place to start is your Secretary of State’s office. You can contact them and they can point you in the right direction to register for your assumed business name.
2. Be Ready for a Filing Fee
One thing that is common in just about every state is that they will charge a fee for the certificate of assumed business name. The application will often show the fee amount as well as which payment options are accepted and whether or not each payment option has extra fees attached to it.
3. Submit Your Application
You’ll then submit your application per the instructions on it. Some states allow for electronic filing, but many states still require the application to be mailed or delivered in person.
Many states also offer expedited services in some cases, although that will come with an added fee.
Apply for Certificate of Assumed Business Name With Confidence
Using an LLC with an additional assumed name generally means you are conducting different types of business under one roof. This can make for complicated bookkeeping which may be hard to manage.
This is where doola can help. We offer comprehensive business services, which includes bookkeeping, banking, and tax and compliance, to help your finances stay accurate and operations compliant with all regulations.
With doola by your side, you can focus on getting the certification of assumed business name while it handles your bookkeeping.
How much does it cost to get a certificate of assumed business name?
Fees are different in every state and can run as low as $25 to over $50. The application will generally have the fee structure and payment options printed on it.
How long does it take to get a certificate of assumed business name?
In each state, the timeline can be different, but in most cases it’s 5-10 business days after the application is received. Some states offer expedited services for faster registration, but these will include an extra fee.
How do I get a copy of my certificate of assumed business name?
You can request a copy in person with the office where you registered, which can be a clerk’s office or the secretary of state’s office. You can also look up your assumed business name on the state’s website.
Some states will allow you to request a copy online via their website. Copies of any kind whether online or in person will generally require a fee.