If you run a business under an assumed name in Nebraska, 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 three easy steps to filing with the state.
In Nebraska, the DBA is actually called a “Trade Name.” Essentially, they’re the same concept. “Trade Name” is just the terminology used by the state. For consistency, we’ll call it a Trade Name throughout the rest of this guide.
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 online services that can help you take care of the paperwork.
Do You Need a Nebraska Trade Name?
Not all business entities in Nebraska need a Trade Name. Ordinarily, a business needs a Trade 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 a Trade Name in order to use that name. A Trade 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 a Trade 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 Nebraska Trade Name does present a few advantages. While it doesn’t offer any specific legal protections or tax incentives, a Trade 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.
Nebraska requires all entities to register their Trade Name. You’ll also need to publish your Trade Name in a newspaper. We’ll cover that in Step 2.
1) File Your Trade Name with the Nebraska Secretary of State
Business entities wanting to use a Trade Name in Nebraska can register their name with the Secretary of State. Before you do that, though, you’ll need to ensure that your name is available. In Nebraska, the law states that a Trade Name is not permitted if it “consists of or comprises a” name already in use in the state. This law is a bit pickier than it is in some states. To make sure your name is compliant, you should run a Corporate & Business Search. Nebraska also recommends that you search the federal list of trademarks to ensure your name does not infringe on federally reserved name.
If there are any exact matches to your Trade Name, you’ll need to make some changes so it is distinguishable. Once your name is completely distinct, you can file an Application for Registration of Trade Name.
There is a $100 fee for this registration. You can file by mail or in person with the Secretary of State.
2) Declare Your Nebraska Trade Name to the Public
In Nebraska, you are required to make a public declaration of your Trade Name. Here’s how it works: within 45 days of filing your registration, you need to publish a statement that you have registered your name. The Secretary of State requires you to use a newspaper that is published in your city. You only need to publish it once.
Once you’ve done so, you’ll need to file an Affidavit of Publication online. This form is free, but it will alert the Secretary of State to the fact that you’ve fulfilled the requirement.
3) Maintaining your Nebraska Trade Name
Your initial name registration is good for ten years. After that, you’ll need to renew it within the six months leading up to the expiration. You can renew by calling the Secretary of State at (402) 471-4079. There is another $100 fee to renew it.
If you need to make any changes to your Trade Name, you can file an amendment. The fee for this form is only $5, but it’s important to file this and avoid confusion. You can find it here. Just like the initial registration, you need to ensure that your changed name is distinct.
Need Help Filing your Trade 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 Nebraska Trade Name.