How to Get a DBA in Michigan
If you’re starting a business in Michigan and plan to operate under a name that’s different from your legal business name, you’ll need to file for a Michigan DBA (“doing business as”) name. In Michigan, DBAs are formally referred to as an “Assumed Name”. In this guide, we’ll go over what a Michigan Assumed Name is, who’s required to get one, and the step-by-step process to file for your Assumed Name.
Important Note: It’s a common misconception that a DBA is a type of business structure. However, this is not accurate – A DBA (Assumed Name) is simply a registration to use a name different from your legal business name. Since a Assumed Name is not a separate legal entity, it does not provide limited liability protection for business owners or taxation flexibility, as an LLC does. If you want to know more about the differences between the two, visit our DBA vs LLC guide to learn more.
- What is a Michigan DBA?
- How to File a DBA (Assumed Name) in Michigan:
- Michigan Assumed Name FAQs:
DBA is an acronym for “Doing Business As” and refers to a filing that allows a business to operate under a different name from its legal name. Assumed Names are used by all types of businesses in Michigan but are most commonly used by sole proprietorships and partnerships.
Sole proprietorships and partnerships are informal business structures that don’t require legal formation paperwork to get started. As a result, their legal names are either their personal name (for sole proprietors) or must include the partners’ last names (for partnerships). As a result, most sole proprietors and partnerships opt to file a Michigan Assumed Name so that they can use a more credible and brandable business name.
Any business that will operate under any name that is different from their legal name must file for a Michigan Assumed Name.
The first step is to develop a business name that is unique, memorable, and easy to find in a web search. For some helpful hints and guidance on making sure your DBA name is as good as it can be, check out our useful guide, How to Come Up with a Business Name.
Once you have determined what you’d like to use as your business name, follow these steps to complete your Michigan Assumed Name filing.
To get a Michigan Assumed Name, you want to start with a business name availability search. To increase the likelihood that your Assumed Name application will be accepted, you will need to ensure that no other business uses the Assumed Name that you wish to use and that your business name is unique.
Why Having a Unique Assumed Name is Important
Your business name is the foundation of your strategic marketing strategy. Choosing a name similar to other businesses can get you lost in the white noise of competition. One massive benefit of a Michigan Assumed Name is that it provides you the one chance to break away from the pack.
Without the unique Assumed Name, you could be handicapping the best marketing and sales efforts to get your name out there. Worse yet, you could be sending business to others using a similar name.
To recap, we suggest that you do an extensive search to ensure the following:
- The Assumed Name is not currently in use nor too similar to other businesses
- The business name has never been used previously
Note: If the business name is available and has been used before, it is probably not all that unique. Also, the fact that the name is no longer in use could imply a lack of success on the part of the previous owners.
Searches to Complete
- Search the Michigan Online Database:
Verify that your desired Michigan Assumed Name is available to register and is not currently used by an existing business. You can complete this by using the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) business entity search.
- Check the US Patent and Trademark (USPTO) System:
Once you have verified that your name is available for registration, you’ll also want to ensure that the name is not trademarked. Since the trademark process is at the federal level, it supersedes any level registrations. You can search USPTO Trademark database here.
- Website Domain Search:
You will also want to complete a domain name search to check if the .com version of your business name is available. If you don’t plan to create a business website, you should still consider registering the domain name to prevent others from using it. Since you can register a new .com domain for less than $10 with namecheap, it can serve as a very cheap form of insurance against someone using the domain.
Once you have completed all the required name availability searches and confirmed that your name can be used, it’s time to complete your Assumed Name registration. In the state of Michigan, the process for filing an assumed name (DBA) is slightly different depending on the structure of the business. For general partnerships and sole proprietors, their Michigan DBA filing is completed with their local county clerk’s office. If the business is legally formed as an LLC or Corporation, the Certificate of Assumed Name is filed with the Michigan Department of State.
Information to complete a Michigan Assumed Name Filing
To complete your Assumed Name, you’ll need the following information:
- Your desired Assumed Name
- Name of the business owner, which can be a person or a legal entity
- Date when you started or formed your business
- Description of the nature of your business, including services and value
- A signature of a notary to authenticate the registration
How to File a DBA (Assumed Name) as a Sole Proprietor or General Partnership
If you are operating your business as a sole proprietor or general partnership, you will need to file your Michigan Assumed Name Certificate with your local county clerk. You can find the contact information for your county clerk’s office by using the Michigan Association of County Clerk’s website.
- Get the Assumed Name Certificate Form for your County:Contact your county clerk’s office for their version of the Assume Name Certificate form. Each county has it’s own version of the form, so you need to make sure that you have the correct form for your count.
- Fill Out the Assumed Name Certificate Form: Fill out the required information requested on the form. Each county’s form varies slightly but they commonly require you to provide the name being registered, the name and address of the owner and the description of the business.
- Notarize the Form: To verify that the signature provided on the application is valid, Michigan requires that your Assumed Name Certificate be notarized. Many of the county clerk’s offices provide this service for free or for a nominal fee
- Submit the Form to the County Clerk’s Office: Once completed, submit the form to your local county clerk’s office in-person, by mail, or online (if the option is offered by the county).
How to File a DBA (Assumed Name) as an LLC or Corporation
If your business is legally formed as an LLC or Corporation, the DBA filing process is completed with the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA). Your Certificate of Assumed Name can be filed online, by mail, or in-person. To file online you’ll need to log into the Michigan LARA system using your Customer ID Number (CID) and PIN that you were issued when your LLC or Corporation was formed. If you wish to file by mail or in-person follow the steps below:
- Download the Form: Download the Michigan LARA Certificate of Assumed Name Form.
- Fill Out the Certificate of Assumed Name Form: Provide the information that is required on the form. This information includes:
- Name of the Entity
- ID Number assinged by the Michigan LARA
- The desired Assumed Name
- Signature of an authorized individual (refer to Item 7 in the form instructions listed on page 2)
- Provide Payment: Provide your form of payment for the non-refundable fee for the filing. Corporations and Limited Partnerships must pay $10.00 and LLCs must pay $25.00. If submitting by mail payments can be made by check or money order. For in-person sumbmissions, payment may be made via check, money order, VISA, MasterCard, or Discover.
- Submit your Form: Submit your form by mail or in-person. Follow the corresponding directions below for each method:
- Submission via Mail:
Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs
Corporations, Securities & Commercial Licensing Bureau
P.O. Box 30054
Lansing, MI 48909
- In-Person Submission:
2501 Woodlake Circle
Telephone: (517) 241-6470
- Submission via Mail:
If you would like more information on the business registration process for all four main business types in Michigan visit our guide, How to Register a Business Name in Michigan.
The filing fee for a DBA (Assumed Name) in Michigan varies based on the type of business structure:
- LLCs – $25
- Corporations and Limited Partnerships – $10
- Sole Proprietorships and General Partnerships – Check with local county clerk’s office for filing cost (filing fees vary by county)
Once your Michigan Assumed Name filing has been approved, it needs to be renewed every 5 years.
You can file for as many Assumed Name names as you need – there is no limit to the number of Assumed Names you can be issued.