What is a Name Registration?

Believe it or not, in most jurisdictions you cannot simply begin using a business name without formally registering it. So, if you want to name your moving company Awesome Movers you will need to register the name before you can use it. This is what a name registration is; it is the legal organization of your company name with the appropriate jurisdiction.

Types of Name Registrations

The organization types you are likely familiar with include Corporation, Limited Liability Corporation (LLC), and Doing Business As (DBA). If you are a sole proprietor then you will still usually be required to register a DBA.

The terminology used to refer to a DBA varies greatly across the country. Other popular names include assumed name, fictitious name and trade name.

Is a Name Registration Required?

A name registration can be used to meet some of the minimum application requirements, but it is not otherwise required. Just because it is a credential that we do not specifically require, however, doesn't mean that it's not required by your state or local jurisdiction. You should research the name registration requirements of your state to ensure that your business is in compliance.

Unlike a business license, where you could have one for various jurisdictions, you will typically have only one name registration. We give you three options (city, county and state) because the requirements for which jurisdiction you must register in vary around the country. See also: What if I have multiple name registrations?

Does a Name Registration Expire?

While most name registrations won't have an explicit expiration date, nearly all states require corporations and LLC's to file an annual report each year. Failure to do so will usually result in your name registration becoming inactive or expired.

If you have a state issued name registration you should contact the Secretary of State (or the equivalent in your state) to determine if an annual report is required every year; some states only require an annual report biennially. Further, the actual due date of your annual return will vary widely depending on the state, so check with them directly.

If you've filed a DBA it is likely that it expires as well, but they are typically valid for a longer period of time.