In Virginia, any business operating under a fictitious name will need to register a DBA.  Learn more about what a DBA is, who needs one and how to register.

What is a DBA?

A DBA, also known as “Doing Business As”, Trade Name, Assumed Name or Fictitious Name is a name used by a business, that is different from the legal name of the business.   

When a business wants to operate under a name other than their legal name, the state of Virginia, like most states, require the business to register their business name.  The registration requirement was designed to protect consumers from business owners hiding anonymously behind the name of a business.

Who needs to register?

The requirements and need to register an Assumed Business Name are organized under Virginia State Statutes § 59.1-69.  These requirements vary depending on the type of business entity. 

Sole proprietorships and general partnerships are the most common entities to register for a DBA. 

The legal name of a sole proprietor or partnership can be the owner’s full first and last name, which can be used without registering.  For example, if John Smith starts a business repairing computers operating under John Smith he doesn’t need to register.  If John decides to name his business John’s Computer Repair or even John Smith’s Computer Repair then he will need to register. 

Corporations and Limited Liability Companies won’t typically register a fictitious name since a unique entity name is created during the formation process.  Some will file for a DBA if they have another business they want to operate under their corporate/LLC umbrella to keep the liability protection without having to form another entity.

Virginia DBA Registration Form

The Certificate of Assumed or Fictitious Name is available from the Secretary of State or Clerk of Circuit Court.

How much does it cost to register?

The filing fee to register the Certificate of Assumed or Fictitious Name is $10 per City or County.

What are the steps to file a DBA in Virginia?

Sole Proprietorship & Partnership

Step 1 – Verify Name Availability
A business may not register a name that is the same or similar to another business in Virginia.

Names can be searched on the Secretary of State’s website.  Learn how to do a business name search in Virginia.

Step 2 – Fill out the Form
Information requested on the form includes:

    • City or County the name is being applied to
    • Assumed Name being registered
    • Type of business entity
    • Name and address of the owner
    • Office address of the business

Step 3 – Notarize the Form
Before signing the form, be sure to have a notary to witness the signing of the documents.  Most Clerk’s offices offer notary services at no cost.

Step 4 – Submit the Form
The Certificate of Assumed or Fictitious Name is filed with the clerk’s office of the Circuit Court of the City or County where business will be conducted.

Corporation, Limited Partnership & Limited Liability Company

The process of registering an Assumed Name is the same as the sole proprietorship and partnership with the addition of one final step. 

Step 1 – Verify Name Availability
A business may not register a name that is the same or similar to another business in Virginia.

Names can be searched on the Secretary of State’s website.  Learn how to do a business name search in Virginia.

Step 2 – Fill out the Form
Information requested on the form includes:

    • City or County the name is being applied to
    • Assumed Name being registered
    • Type of business entity
    • Name and address of the owner
    • Office address of the business

Step 3 – Notarize the Form
Before signing the form, be sure to have a notary to witness the signing of the documents.  Most Clerk’s offices offer notary services at no cost.

Step 4 – Submit the Form with the Circuit Court
The Certificate of Assumed or Fictitious Name is filed with the clerk’s office of the Circuit Court of the City or County where business will be conducted.

Step 5 – Submit the Form with the State Corporation Commission
After filing with the Circuit Court(s), a certified copy of the filed Certificate of Assumed or Fictitious Name will be provided. 

The certificate from the City or County where the business is located will then need to be filed with the Clerk of the State Corporation Commission to finalize the registration process.

Protecting your business name

While registering your Trade Name will keep someone else from registering the exact same name in Virginia, it does very little from someone else operating a business under that name in other states.  If stopping others from using your business name is important, you can protect it through a trademark.

Learn more about trademarking a business name.

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