Our Step By Step Guide

How to file a DBA in North Dakota

Filing a DBA (also known as Doing Business As) allows you to operate and receive payments under a name that is different from your legal business name. This helps you create an identity for your business that presents it in a professional light to customers and vendors, while allowing customers to write you checks and make payments directly to the business name you have chosen. Follow our step by step guide or let us handle the paperwork on your behalf, ensuring your business is filed quickly and accurately.

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Why start your business in North Dakota?

In 2019, Thumbtack released a report on small business friendliness across the United States. North Dakota received a B+ for overall friendliness. High marks across the state included an A for its tax code and an A- for regulations and licensing. Additionally, an impressive A+ was awarded to North Dakota for its employment and hiring and the ease of starting a small business.

Are all those sweeping A scores getting you excited about starting a business in North Dakota? The state also proudly holds fourth place as one of the best states across the United States to start a business. Let's take a closer look at how to get a DBA in North Dakota.

Two Ways to Register Your Business

MyCorporation® can help you file all of the necessary documents to file your DBA in North Dakota.

File and submit the formation paperwork yourself

Our free guide provides you with all of the information you'll need to file your DBA in North Dakota. Bookmark this page as a reference so you can return easily as you complete each step of the process.

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See other business types

Are you looking for another entity type? We offer several other guides for the state of North Dakota.

For those unfamiliar with the acronym, DBA stands for "doing business as." North Dakota also refers to a DBA as a trade name or an assumed name. No matter which type of business structure you have incorporated as, whether it's a sole proprietor, partnership, corporation, or LLC, if you plan to operate your business under a name different than your real name or an existing corporate name, then you need to file a DBA.

Here are a few additional benefits you'll receive by registering a fictitious name in North Dakota:

  • The ability to open a business bank account. You are unable to use your personal bank account to issue or receive checks under your business name. Filing for a DBA allows you to open a bank account under your startup's name, as most banks will require a certified copy of your DBA before you can open an account. Once you have a business bank account, you may collect checks and payments under your company's name.
  • Public advertising. Now that you have registered your official business name, you may begin publicly advertising and marketing under the DBA. This will help increase the visibility of your business
  • Create a separate business identity. Small businesses look much more professional once they file for a DBA. The assumed name allows them to establish a separate business identity for customers and vendors. This allows you to present your business in a professional light.
  • Discourage others from usage. You'll be able to protect your brand and discourage others from registering your name by officially registering your DBA.

The first step is determining if a DBA is right for you. There are a few common situations where registering a DBA makes the most sense:

  • Sole Proprietors: Let's suppose Jane Smith is a graphic designer doing work as a sole proprietorship (no LLC or corporation formed). She may wish to conduct business with her clients as "Designs by Jane," as well as open a bank account and accept checks under that name. Filing a DBA for the name Designs by Jane would allow her to do so.
  • LLC/Corporations: In the case that you have already filed an LLC or Corporation for your business, you may register another name for your business with the state. Let's say you filed an LLC for your auto repair business under the name "L.A. First Auto Repair" but have decided to expand your business into auto detailing. You could file a DBA for "L.A. First Auto Detailing" as a second name for your business. Doing this ensures you keep these two separate business activities distinct.
  • LLC/Corporations:
    In North Dakota, your corporation or LLC's full legal name may include an indicator (such as Inc or L.L.C). If your company's full name is "Doggie Day Care, INC," but you wish to operate your business as "Doggie Day Care," you would file for a DBA without the indicator.

The next important step seems obvious: you'll need to decide on a name to register. Here are a few rules to keep in mind as you come up with a name in North Dakota.

  1. No two trade names in North Dakota can be similar or the exact same. In other words, a DBA cannot mislead the public by being deceptively similar to any other business name.
  2. A DBA name cannot include a corporate indicator, like Corp or LLC, or any other words that imply an entity type, unless the business has been incorporated as an LLC or corporation. This is to prevent a sole proprietor from posing as an incorporated business.

How do you find out if a DBA name is available in North Dakota?

There are a few approaches you can take once you have chosen a name that meets the guidelines listed above in order to determine if the name is available to register. You may first look up the trade name in a filing search using tools provided from the North Dakota Secretary of State. Another, more reliable approach is to conduct a North Dakota DBA name search. MyCorporation may complete a thorough fictitious name search on your behalf, and report back the findings to help you avoid unnecessary rejections.

Tip: Even when the DBA name has been checked, you should avoid ordering business cards and advertising signage until you receive notification of filing from the Secretary of State.

Now that you have determined the name is available for registration, and you've determined your business' classification, it's time to complete the trade name filing with the forms provided by North Dakota's FirstStop website. It is important that you file your DBA in the county of the principal place of business. Most North Dakota counties require the following information in their applications:

  1. Business name
  2. Business address and mailing address (if different)
  3. Brief description of kind of business to be carried on
  4. Date business organized
  5. Business applicant name, address, and signature, if the applicant is a corporation
  6. Individual applicant name, address, and signature
  7. Business email address and phone number

Once you have completed the trade name application, you will submit it to the county registrar for approval either via mail or deliver in-person. The filing fee for registering a trade name is $25. This payment must be made payable to the North Dakota Secretary of State. According to the North Dakota Secretary of State, DBA processing times run typically 3-5 business days. All orders are processed in the order they are received.

Tip: Most counties in North Dakota will allow you to register multiple fictitious names at a time if desired.

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We hope you find this detailed list of steps makes the process of registering a doing business as name (DBA) a bit more simplified for you. However, we understand that filing a DBA for your business can be confusing and time-consuming process. That's why MyCorporation offers DBA filing services for businesses all across the state of North Dakota.

Our experts will complete the forms for your county, check its registration status, and even publish the DBA notice where required. All you need do is sign and return a few documents in our prelabeled envelope. You'll receive the approval and publication certificate for your records without any heavy lifting.

We make filing a DBA easy.

Operate your business under your business name, open a bank account for your business, and build credibility without all of the hassle. MyCorporation will handle the paperwork for you, so you can focus on building your business.

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Frequently asked questions

No. A business license is required of all businesses, whereas a DBA is required only if the business is operating under a name different from the name of the owner.

In North Dakota, all businesses are required to file for a general business license (sometimes referred to as a business tax certificate). Business licenses are issued by cities and municipalities, and every city in North Dakota differs in their requirements. If you plan on operating your business in multiple cities, you will need to apply for a business license in each location. Some additional permits may be required in addition to a general business license, which may need to be filed with the county or the state. You can find out about the specific licenses applicable to your business by checking with the city offices where you will conduct business, or by using MyCorporation's business license compliance package. Our team of skilled professionals will identify the licenses required by your business and provide you with all the information you need to file.

A DBA does not grant exclusivity for the use of a business name. DBAs identify the business and claim the business's name, but they only claim the name itself. Once you file for a DBA, the name cannot be used by another business on the state level. However, if a business in a different state wanted to register the same DBA as your business, they could so long as no other business in their state had already claimed that name. It is also possible to trademark a DBA. This would offer nationwide protection against infringement.

In the state of North Dakota, a DBA must be renewed every 5 years with the North Dakota Secretary of State.

Filing a DBA in North Dakota will not impact your taxes, as it does not alter your tax status. Only the name you conduct business as will change. The structure of your business is what determines how you will be taxed (sole proprietor, corporation, LLC, etc.), so you will continue to pay taxes as usual after filing a DBA.

If you are not planning to continue using your DBA, you can file a statement of abandonment with the county clerk where you registered. Most counties will provide you with the required forms you need to complete this filing.