What is a DBA?
If the owners of a company want to do business using a name that is different from the original name used to form the business, they must register the secondary name. For sole proprietorships and partnerships the original name is the actual name of the owner or partners.
This secondary name doesn’t replace the original name but acts as an additional, legal name for the business. This name is known by several terms such as trade name, fictitious business name and assumed name. The process for filing this name is often called filing for DBA registration, or doing business as.
For example, if the company “Carpet Cleaning LLC” wants to do business as “Best Carpet Cleaner” then the owners will have to file a DBA to register the assumed name.
When you need a DBA
In Massachusetts, a DBA filing is required on the local level instead of the state level, although one may reserve a name on the state level prior to incorporating or forming a business entity.
For example, if a business seeks to operate in the city of Boston, there would be a requisite filing with the city of Boston. Boston provides a good example of situations where a DBA filing is necessary, and where there are consequences for those who fail to register. Failure to file a DBA registration for a business in Boston is punishable by a fine each month that a business is not registered.
Rules differ from city to city, or county to county. Check with your local county clerk for details about your location.
Setting up a DBA in Massachusetts
Although the process of DBA filing does not occur at the state level, the Secretary of the Commonwealth's corporate database is a useful resource for those seeking to file a DBA designation with a local authority. It is necessary to check such a database because a name that is already registered cannot be used. Cities such as Boston also have their own database which can be equally useful in determining whether the name a business seeks is already taken.
Massachusetts DBA forms
Because filing of a DBA designation is done at the local level in the State of Massachusetts, there is no single form that for businesses to use when filing for a DBA. Check with local county clerks or city offices for details.
Massachusetts DBA filing & registration
Again, because the filing process in Massachusetts is local in nature, filing procedures will generally differ slightly from one locale to another. That said, there is common information that is typically requested by most governmental authorities when applying for a DBA. This includes the name of the filer, the name of the business as it currently is and/or names and addresses of business owners, the address of the principal place of business, and the DBA name to be assumed.
Getting a trade name registered by filing a DBA doesn’t change how your company is taxed.
If you’re ready to file a DBA, LegalZoom can help you get started today. We can help you file the paperwork with your state and can get you in touch with an attorney or tax professional to answer specific questions.
Find out more about DBA State Requirements