In Delaware, a 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 Delaware, 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?
Any individual or business engaging in or transacting business within the State of Delaware must do a Trade, Business and Fictitious Name Registration, pursuant to Title 6 Del. C. Chapter 31 § 3101 and § 3103.
A business is required to register with the Office of the Prothonotary in every county where they are operating. For example, if you are starting a business and have a retail store in Kent County, you would only need to file with the Prothonotary office Kent County. On the other hand, a landscaper servicing clients in multiple counties would need to register with the Office of the Prothonotary in each of those counties.
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 doesn’t get registered. Using the owner’s name for the business name works for many self-employed business owners, however many entrepreneurs want to operate under a distinct and brandable business name.
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.
How much does it cost to register?
The cost to register a DBA in Delaware is $25 for each county where the business operates.
What are the steps to file a DBA in Delaware?
Step 1 – Verify Name Availability
Every name registration must be unique and not too similar to other names on record. Before filling out the form, visit the Trade, Business & Fictitious Names search on the Delaware Courts website to see if the name you want is available.
Here is more information on how to do a name search in Delaware.
Step 2: Complete the Form
After verifying the business name you want is available, the registration form needs to be downloaded and filled out.
Information being requested includes:
- The County where the name is being registered
- Proposed business name
- Business address
- Phone number
- Names and addresses of all owners, members or partners
- Date of formation
- What the business does
The form has to be filled out and notarized. Notary services are available in each of the Prothonotary’s Offices.
Step 3 – Submit the Form
The Fictitious Name Certificate can either be delivered in-person or mailed.
Addresses for each Prothonotary office:
New Castle County
Leonard L. Williams Justice Center
500 North King Street, Suite 500, LL1
Wilmington, DE 19801-3746
Kent County Courthouse
38 The Green
Dover, DE 19901
Sussex County Courthouse
1 The Circle, Suite 2
Georgetown, DE 19947
DBAs can’t be registered using words that are related to banks, trusts, savings unless the business is licensed to provide those services.
Delaware DBA Registration Form
Download the Trade, Business & Fictitious Name Form PDF from the Delaware Court’s website.
Protecting your business name
While registering your Trade Name will keep someone else from registering the exact same name in Delaware, it does very little from someone else operating a business under that name in other states. If stopping anyone from using your business name is important, you can protect it through a trademark – See more about trademarking a business name.