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 its 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 Delaware businesses that want to operate under a name that is different from the legal name of the owners or entity. The DBA registration provides information on the people operating a business, so if there is an issue, the owners of a business can be tracked down.
In addition to the legal requirement, a DBA offers other benefits such as proving the existence of a business, opening a business bank account, registering a merchant account to accept credit cards, and others.
Who needs to register for a Delaware DBA?
Any individual or business entity 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 in Delaware. 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.
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
Step 2: Complete the Form
Information that is needed on the form includes:
– The County where the name is being registered
– Proposed DBA 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, so don’t sign before signing in front of a notary! 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 to the Prothonotary’s office for the county where you do business in Delaware.
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
Are there any naming restrictions when filing a Delaware DBA?
DBAs can’t be registered using words related to banks, trusts, and savings unless the business is licensed to provide those services.
Additionally, a DBA filing can’t use a business entity suffix that is different from the type of entity. For example, a sole proprietorship can’t use LLC or Corp in its name.
Do I have to file a DBA in Delaware?
Any Delaware sole proprietorship or partnership that wants to do business under a name that is different from the owner’s full name or a Delaware corporation or LLC that wants to operate under a name that is different from the legal name of the entity is required to register the DBA name.
Can someone use my business name after registering a Delaware DBA?
While registering your Trade Name will keep someone else from registering the exact same name in Delaware, it does very little to stop someone else from 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 federal trademark through the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.
Learn more about trademarking a business name.