If you run a business under an assumed name in North Carolina, 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 North Carolina, the DBA is actually called an “Assumed Name.” Essentially, they’re the same concept. “Assumed Name” is just the terminology used by the state. For consistency, we’ll call it an Assumed 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 LLC services that can help you take care of the paperwork.
Do You Need a North Carolina Assumed Name?
Not all business entities in North Carolina 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 North Carolina 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.
North Carolina adopted a new law in 2017 governing the filing of Assumed Names. Under this policy, a business that uses an Assumed Name should file it with their county’s register of deeds. In turn, your local filing is added to the statewide database of Assumed Names.
1) File Your Assumed Name with the Local Register of Deeds
Any business which uses an Assumed Name must file that name with the register of deeds in each county where they conduct business. If you have more than one location spread over multiple counties in North Carolina, you’ll need to file the name at each office. You can find your local register of deeds here.
Before you actually register, though, you should run an Assumed Business Name Search. This search will let you know whether or not another entity is already using the name you want. You can also run a Company Name Search to check the name against incorporated entities. Finally, you should also ensure that your name does not infringe on any federally registered trademarks. In short, your name should be unique.
After you’ve determined that your Assumed Name is available to use, you can file your Assumed Business Name Certificate. This form includes some information about your business, including the nature of your activities, the counties where you plan to operate, contact information, and of course, the name you intend to use.
There is a $26 filing fee for this application. You can mail it in or drop it off at your local register of deeds. Once your name is registered, the register will add your name to the state’s database.
2) Maintaining your North Carolina Assumed Name
Your Certificate of Assumed Name does not expire, so you will not need to file a renewal. That said, if you ever need to make changes to your name, you should file an amendment. Similarly, you should file a withdrawal if you ever intend to stop using your Assumed Name.
Like the registration, you can file both these forms at your local register of deeds.
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 North Carolina Assumed Name.