If you run a business under an assumed name in New Jersey, 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.
In New Jersey, the DBA is actually called an “Alternate Name.” Essentially, they’re the same concept. “Alternate Name” is just the terminology used by the state. For consistency, we’ll call it an Alternate 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 top rated LLC formation services that can help you take care of the paperwork.
Do You Need a New Jersey Alternate Name?
Not all business entities in New Jersey need an Alternate Name. Ordinarily, a business needs an Alternate 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 Alternate Name in order to use that name. An Alternate 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 Alternate 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 New Jersey Alternate Name does present a few advantages. While it doesn’t offer any specific legal protections or tax incentives, an Alternate 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.
In New Jersey, the usual regulations for names do not apply; multiple businesses can use the same Alternate Name. This means that there may be multiple listings of the same Alternate Name on the state’s record.
1) File Your Alternate Name with the New Jersey Division of Revenue
In New Jersey, registering your Alternate Name is required, but doing so does not protect your name. The only names protected by the state are the legal names of entities as reserved by forming the business. As a result, you don’t need to worry about making your Alternate Name different from other alternate names. However your name does need to be different from legally protected names.
To check your name availability, you should run a Business Name Search. Simply type in the Alternate Name you’d like to use; if any exact matches pop up that belong to incorporated entities (that aren’t also Alternate Names), then you’ll need to make some changes. If not, then it’s likely that the name is available.
Using the online search option is free, but you can also search availability by phone. This second option requires a fee, but it is the most thorough search option available.
Once you’ve determined that your name is available, you can register it with the Division of Revenue. There is a $50 fee for this registration. You can pay by check or credit card (there is an additional convenience fee for credit transactions). There is also an expedited option, for an additional $15 ($25 for LLCs).
2) Maintaining your New Jersey Alternate Name
Your initial name registration is valid for five years. After that, if you want to continue using your Alternate Name, you’ll need to submit a renewal. The process for a renewal is basically identical to that of the initial registration. You can find the form you’ll need here.
You’ll also need to make additional filings if you plan on changing your Alternate Name. Thanks to these filings, both the state and the public will be aware of what businesses are operating in New Jersey.
Need Help Filing your Alternate 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 New Jersey Alternate Name.