How to Register a Business Name


Man on laptop at home registering a home businessWhen you start a company, the legal name of your business is required on government forms, like your applications for an employer tax ID, business licenses, permits, etc. You will also need a business name for important business tasks such as opening a bank account, signing a business contract, etc.

If you are the sole owner of a business, by default, your personal name becomes the legal name of the business. If your business is a partnership, the legal name of your business is name given in your partnership (or the last names of the partners). If your business is an LLC or corporation, the legal name is that which you registered with the state government.

Many sole proprietor businesses decide to register a fictitious business name, or DBA (“Doing Business As”). For example, if you want to name your grocery store “Apples and Oranges” instead of “Tom Smith”, you would file a fictitious business name

Procedures, requirements and fees for filing a business name vary by state. And some states require that you file at the state level, while others at the city or county level, while others don’t require filing of a fictitious business name at all. For this reason, you want to check with your local city or county clerk to see what is required for your location.

The process of filing a fictitious business name generally does not take long. The first step is for the city/county/state to check their database to ensure that another business doesn’t already have the business name that you want to register. If the name is available, you usually fill out an application, pay a fee and place an ad in your local newspaper announcing the filing of your business name.

Start by visiting your state’s website and then locating your city.

More Small Business Resources:

How to Apply for a Federal Tax ID Number
You get a Federal Tax ID Number, or Employer ID Number (EIN), from the IRS. You can apply through their website, by phone, fax or mail. For fastest service, apply online. It can take up to five weeks to get your EIN if you apply by mail.

The EIN you receive is your permanent number and can be used for business tasks such as opening a business bank account, applying for a business license or filing a tax return.

If you don’t know if you need a Federal Tax ID Number for your business, answer these questions. If you already have a Tax ID Number, but have misplaced it, you can call the Business and Specialty Tax Line at (800) 829-4933 and have them look it up for you.


Start by visiting your state’s website and then locating your city.