How to Register a Delaware DBA

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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.

Related: How to start a business in Delaware

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 its legal name, the state of Delaware, like most states, requires 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.

What is a DBA good for?

A DBA is required for many businesses in order to legally operate and provides information on the people operating a business.  In addition to the legal requirement, a DBA offers other benefits such as proving the existence of a business, opening a bank account under a business name, registering a merchant account to accept credit cards, and others.

Who needs to register for a Delaware DBA?

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 in 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 forming another entity.

Related: Difference between a sole proprietorship and Limited Liability Company (LLC)

How much does a DBA cost in Delaware?

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

 

Save Time & Hassles

LegalZoom offers an inexpensive online DBA registration service that lets you register a business name in just one easy step. Learn more  

 

Name Restrictions

DBAs can’t be registered using words related to banks, trusts, and savings unless the business is licensed to provide those services.

Can someone steal my 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 others from using your business name is important, you can protect it through a trademark.

Learn more about trademarking a business name.

Related: What is the difference between a trademark, copyright, and patent?

Does a DBA need an EIN?

An EIN or Employer Identification Number is a unique nine-digit number that some businesses will register for through the Internal Revenue Department (IRS). An EIN is required for partnerships, corporations, multi-member LLCs, or any business that has employees.

Sole proprietorships and single-member LLCs without employees can use the owner’s social security number to identify the business.

There is no cost to get an EIN when registering directly from the IRS.

Related: How to register for an EIN in Delaware