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 John Smith, owner of a sole proprietorship, wants to do business as “Best Carpet Cleaner” rather than "John Smith," then he has to file a dba.
When you need a dba
As a formal matter, Michigan does not require the filing of dba designation on the state level. However, a foreign corporation or business entity that wants to use a name that is already registered will be required to file for a dba.
There is also a separate filing process that occurs on the county level, typically for sole proprietorships and co-partnerships that want a dba. In some cities, a business may have to file for a dba designation on the local level.
Setting up a dba in Michigan
Michigan's Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs provides a database that filers for a dba designation can use to determine if the name they seek is already taken.
Corporations, LLCs, and LLPs should also keep in mind that there are specific naming requirements for those business entities under state law. For example, corporate names for domestic corporations must contain the word “corporation,” “company,” “incorporated,” or “limited” or shall contain an abbreviation like corp., co., inc., or ltd.
Furthermore, corporate names cannot imply an activity other than those specifically prescribed in the articles of incorporation. Check the relevant laws and regulations specific to the type of entity for which they wish to file a dba. Filers should also view the Restricted Word List.
Michigan dba forms
Those corporations, LLCs, and LLPs wishing to assume a business name can use the form found here. Others need to consult local authorities to obtain the right form.
Michigan dba filing & registration
When you file the paperwork, you’ll need to include your name, the address of the principal place of business, and the trade name you want to use with your dba. If there was an Identification Number provided by the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Corporations, Securities & Commercial Licensing Bureau, that will need to be provided as well.
Again, because there is a local dba filing process for sole proprietorships and co-partnerships, and potentially for other entities in some cases, those filing processes may differ, and filers should consult the relevant governing authorities to determine exactly what those procedures are.
Getting a trade name registered by filing a dba doesn’t change how your company is taxed.
Are you ready to get a dba? LegalZoom can help you get started today. We can help with the paperwork and can also get you in touch with a business attorney to answer specific questions about your dba.
Find out more about DBA State Requirements