What is a DBA?
If a business wants to do business with a name that is different from the name used to form the business, it must file the new name (called a trade name). This is often called filing for a DBA, or doing business as. For example, if “Frank’s Hot Dogs LLC” wants to do business as “Best Hot Dogs in Town” then the owners have to file a DBA.
When you need a DBA
Under North Carolina law, any business that seeks to use a name other than the name of its owners, or other than the name under which it was formed must file for a DBA. Specifically, such businesses will need to file official paperwork in the office of the register of deeds of such county where the business is located.
Despite the fact that a DBA is required in North Carolina, there are a number of additional reasons to register a DBA formally within the state. These include the business' ability to avoid allegations of fraudulent or deceptive trade practices, the ability to open a bank account under the chosen DBA, and the ability to instill a degree of confidence in those with which the business transacts.
Setting up a DBA in North Carolina
Setting up a North Carolina DBA begins with a name search to see if the desired trade name DBA is available within the state. You can start your research here to search state database.
While the county-based registration process may result in different name restrictions and requirements depending upon the county in which the DBA is filed, there are some common best practices for selecting a DBA that filers should keep in mind.
These include avoiding names that are altogether misleading, names which appear to pose as the name of an altogether different business, names that appear to be the name of a governmental authority of some kind, and names that pose as a kind of entity that they are not, e.g. using "Inc." when the entity is not a corporation.
North Carolina DBA forms
Because the DBA process in North Carolina occurs on a county basis, the exact form necessary in each particular county will vary. Filers should contact the local county or counties in North Carolina in which the business seeks to operate to determine what forms are required and how to obtain them, or visit the website for that county.
North Carolina DBA filing & registration
Although the county-by-county basis for registration of a DBA in North Carolina will result in the process being slightly different in each county, North Carolina law requires that a business provide the name under which the business is to be conducted, and the name and address of the owner, or if there is more than one owner, the name and address of each owner.
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.