How to Register a Trade Name in Georgia

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Quick Reference

A business operating under a fictitious business name will need to register for a Trade Name in Georgia.  Learn more about what a Trade Name is, who needs one and how to register.

What is a Trade Name?

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

When a business wants to operate under a name other than its legal name, the state of Georgia, 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 a business’s name.

Related: How to start a business in Georgia

What is a Trade Name good for?

A Trade Name 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 Georgia Trade Name?

The requirements and need to register for a Trade Name vary, depending on the type of business entity.   

Within 30 days of starting a business, Georgia state law O.C. G.A. 10-1-490 states that a business using a fictitious name must register its Trade Name.  

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

A sole proprietor or partnership’s legal name 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 but doesn’t use a business name, he doesn’t have to register.  If John decides to name his business John’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.

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

How much does a Trade Name cost in Georgia?

The fee to register a Trade Name varies by county, however, it typically ranges between $150-$200, plus publication costs.  This is a one-time expense.

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  

 

What are the steps to file a Trade Name in Georgia?

Step 1 – Obtain the Trade Name Registration Form
Obtain the form from the County Clerk of the Superior Court in the county where the business’s activity occurs or the primary office is located.  Some counties have the form available for download on their website, while others require the form to be picked up in person.

Step 2 – Fill out the Form
The form is pretty easy to fill out and asks for information such as the name being requested, names and address of the owners, and in some cases, what the business does. 

Step 3 – Notarize the Form
The form must be notarized before filing with the county.

Step 4 – File the Form
File the form with the county.  Some allow for on-line submissions, while others require the form to be mailed or delivered in-person.

Step 5 – Publish the Legal Notice
Trade Names are required to be published in a newspaper within the county where the name is being filed.  The notice will run once a week for two consecutive weeks.

The County Clerk will provide the information of the approved publication(s).  Publication fees vary but expect to spend $30 – $75.

Are there any words you can’t use in a Trade Name?

DBAs can’t be registered using words that are related to banking, savings, or insurance unless the business is licensed to provide those services.  The words College or University are also not allowed unless the entity is approved to provide such services.

The words “Corporation, “Corp.,” “Inc.,” “LLC,” or “Limited Liability Company” should only be used for an entity that is registered with the Secretary of State as a corporation or LLC.

Georgia DBA Registration Form

The Trade Name Registration Form is available from the County Clerk.  A list of Clerks is available here – https://www.gsccca.org/clerks

Can someone steal my business name?

While registering your Trade Name will keep someone else from registering the exact same name in Georgia, 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 company 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 Georgia