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How to Get a DBA in North Carolina | Register a North Carolina Assumed Business Name

If you’re starting a business in North Carolina and plan to operate under a name that’s different from your legal business name, you’ll need to file for a North Carolina DBA (“doing business as”) name. In North Carolina DBAs are formally referred to as a “Assumed Business Name”. In this guide, we’ll go over what a North Carolina Assumed Business Name is, who’s required to get one, and the step-by-step process to file for your Assumed Business 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 Business Name) is simply a registration to use a name different from your legal business name. Since a Assumed Business 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 North Carolina DBA?

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 Business Names are used by all types of businesses in North Carolina 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 North Carolina Assumed Business Name so that they can use a more credible and brandable business name.

A North Carolina LLC or Corporation also can find a Assumed Business Name useful to brand and differentiate their products, services, and divisions.

Who’s Required to Get a North Carolina Assumed Business Name?

Any business that will operate under any name that is different from their legal name must file for a North Carolina Assumed Business Name.

How to File a Assumed Business Name in North Carolina

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 North Carolina Assumed Business Name filing.

Step 1: Conduct a Business Name Availability Search

To get a North Carolina Assumed Business Name, you want to start with a business name availability search. To increase the likelihood that your Assumed Business Name application will be accepted, you will need to ensure that no other business uses the Assumed Business Name that you wish to use and that your business name is unique.

Why Having a Unique Assumed Business 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 North Carolina Assumed Business Name is that it provides you the one chance to break away from the pack.

Without the unique Assumed Business 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 Business 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 North Carolina Online Database:
    Verify that your desired North Carolina Assumed Business Name is available to register and is not currently used by an existing business. You can complete this by using the North Carolina Secretary of State Assumed Business Name Search tool.

  • 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.

Step 2: File and Register the North Carolina Assumed Business Name

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 Business Name registration. Register of Deeds office in the business’ home county issues Assumed Business Names in North Carolina. Fill out the Assumed Business Name Certificate form and file at your local Register of Deeds office in your county. You can find a listing of the Register of Deeds offices here.

Information to complete a North Carolina Assumed Business Name Filing

To complete your Assumed Business Name, you’ll need the following information:

  • Your desired Assumed Business Name
  • The real name of the person or entity engaging in business under the assumed business name
  • Nature/Type of Business
  • Principal Street Address (PO Boxes are not allowed)
  • Mailing Address (if different from street address)
  • Counties where the Assumed Business Name will be used (you can select all 100 counties by checking a box)
  • Signature, Name, and Title of the person signing the form

Be sure to enter a title that is authorized to sign the form. The directions state:

  • Sole proprietorship: must be signed by the individual; title as “sole proprietor” or “owner”.
  • General Partnership: must be signed by a general partner.
  • Limited partnership: must be signed by a general partner.
  • Corporation: must be signed by an officer of the corporation.
  • Limited Liability Company: must be signed by a manager, member, director or officer of the LLC.
  • Trust: must be signed by a trustee or other person authorized to act on behalf of the trust.
  • In the case of any other legal entity, the certificate must be signed in the name of the entity by an individual authorized to act for the entity.

North Carolina Assumed Business Name FAQs:

How much does it cost to get a Assumed Business Name in North Carolina?

To get a North Carolina Assumed Business Name, you need to pay $26 in addition to submitting your completed Assumed Business Name application form.

How often does a North Carolina assumed business name need to be renewed?

Once your North Carolina assumed business name filing has been approved, it needs does not expire. However, if any of the information that you provided on your original Assumed Business Name Certificate changes, you must file an Amendment of Assumed Business Name Certificate within 60 days.

How many assumed business name can I have in North Carolina?

You can file for as many assumed business name names as you need – there is no limit to the number of assumed business names you can be issued.