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
Montana allows basically any domestic entity to file a DBA designation for purposes of doing business under a different name than the entity's true name. That said, Montana places limitations on what entities can do with that name.
For example, an entity that adopts an assumed business name or DBA cannot legally give consent to another entity to use that business name.
Filing for a DBA can be very useful, as it can help companies avoid legal liability, promote a cohesive branding strategy, and instill confidence in trading partners and banking institutions as to the legitimacy of the business entity in question.
Setting up a DBA in Montana
Generally speaking, Montana prohibits the filing for a DBA designation that is the same as or indistinguishable from a DBA designation already registered with the Secretary of State. Montana also prohibits the registration of a DBA name identical or substantially similar to any corporate name, limited partnership name, LLC, limited liability partnership name, trademark, or service mark registered or reserved with the Secretary of State.
Furthermore, one cannot submit a name that incorrectly attests to the type of entity that is in question, or incorrectly implies that it is a type of entity that it is not. The filer for a DBA designation in Montana should keep these considerations in mind when searching for the proper DBA business name.
Conduct a search to determine whether a DBA or business name is already in use.
Montana DBA Filing & Registration
DBA filers will need to provide certain information in order to apply for the DBA or assumed name, including the proposed assumed name itself, the type of business the entity transacts, the date the name was first used in commerce, the type of entity in question, and the business address of the entity. The assumed name will be good for five years, and after that point must be renewed with the Secretary of State.
Getting a trade name registered by filing a DBA doesn’t change how your company is taxed.
When you are ready to get a DBA, LegalZoom can help. We can help you search for a business name, file the paperwork, register for a trademark, and even get you in touch with a business attorney to answer specific questions about your business.