If you run a business under an assumed name in Michigan, you may want to set up a DBA. Short for “Doing Business As,” a DBA serves as an alternate title for your business. Often, a DBA is the name customers will use to refer to your company. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about DBAs: who needs one, who doesn’t, and two easy steps to filing with the state.
NOTE: Keep in mind that filing a trade name will not give your business protection through the corporate veil like an LLC will. If this is something you want or need, don’t fret, there are many business formation services that can help you take care of the paperwork.
Do You Need a Michigan Assumed Name?
Not all business entities in Michigan need an Assumed Name. Ordinarily, a business needs an Assumed Name when the name of their business differs from the name registered with the state.
So let’s say that Lauren operates a sole proprietorship; her legal business formation documents list her full name as the legal owner of the business. But if she wants to run her shop under the name Sew Sweet Creations, she’d need to file an Assumed Name in order to use that name. An Assumed Name is also useful for corporations which want to establish additional businesses or locations with a name that’s different from the Corporation name.
Limited liability companies, nonprofit corporations, and corporations operating exclusively under the name on file with the state usually do not need an Assumed Name. They may choose to use one if they want to establish a new product line or chain of businesses under their original parent company.
A Michigan Assumed Name does present a few advantages. While it doesn’t offer any specific legal protections or tax incentives, an Assumed Name allows you to get a business bank account. You can also give your customers peace of mind—most people are more comfortable writing a check to a business than an individual.
There are three different filing requirements for Assumed Names in Michigan. Incorporated entities (i.e. corporations, LLCs, limited partnerships, etc) file directly with the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. Sole proprietorships and copartnerships must file with their local county clerk. Finally, individual insurance licensees will need to file an Individual Insurance Licensee Registration with Michigan’s Department of Insurance and Financial Services.
This guide will focus on the filing processes for incorporated entities and those which file on the local level.
1) File Your Assumed Name with the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs or Your Local County Clerk
In Michigan, your Assumed Name must be different from those already on file. For sole proprietorships or copartnerships, this file is limited to the county’s records. Incorporated entities, however, must be different from all entities on file at the statewide level. The state defines distinguishable as a name which “has a different sequence of letters or numbers from other names.” This standard gives you more leeway than other states.
That said, you’ll want to run a search to check if your name is distinguishable. Corporations can do so by completing a Business Entity Search by Entity Name. Sole proprietorships and copartnerships can search with their county. Oakland county, for example, provides a Business Name Search for local businesses to use when choosing a name.
Simply type in your desired name; if an exact match appears, you’ll need to change your name to make it distinguishable.
If not, you’re ready to file your Assumed Name. Incorporated entities can use the Certificate of Assumed Name. Sole proprietorships and copartnerships will need to consult their local county clerk’s office to get the appropriate forms.
The fees for this registration vary depending on your entity type and where you file. Corporations must pay $10, but LLCs will owe $25. The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs that you file by mail or in-person; you can pay by check or money order.
2) Maintaining your Michigan Assumed Name
The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs does not require a renewal of your Assumed Name. The Department does, however, require a Certificate of Termination if you intend to stop using your Assumed Name. The fee for this termination is the same as the initial registration.
Sole proprietorships and copartnerships should consult their county clerk’s office to learn about local requirements.
Need Help Filing your Assumed Name?
If this process sounds like a hassle, you can get help with setting up your business’s name with a service like Legalzoom. They make the process simple: you simply provide them with the necessary information about your company, and they’ll fill out the paperwork so you don’t have to. The process is both easy and affordable, letting you focus on running your business.
Your name is an important part of your business, but keeping compliant with state requirements can be tricky! We hope this guide made it quick and easy to set up your Michigan Assumed Name.