How to Register a Trade Name (DBA) in Georgia
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 Georgia businesses that want to operate under a name that is different from the legal name of the owners or entity. The Georgia DBA name 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 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, but if a different name will be used, it must be registered. For example, if John Smith starts a Georgia 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 Georgia 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 a Trade Name cost in Georgia?
The filing 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.
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 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 Trade Name Form
The Trade Name application is pretty straightforward to fill out. While every county is different, common information needed includes:
– Trade Name being requested
– Contact information of the owners
– Principal place of business
– What the business does.
Step 3: Notarize the Form
The form must be notarized before filing with the county. Most Clerks’ offices have a notary available at no cost.
Step 4: File the Form
File the form with the county. Some allow for online 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 legal notice of your trade name registration will run once a week for two consecutive weeks.
The County Clerk will provide which publication(s) are approved in that county. Publication fees vary but expect to spend $30 – $75.
Are there any words you can’t use in a Trade Name?
While the state of Georgia does not require a name search to be sure the name is unique, but there are certain words that are restricted.
Trade Names in Georgia 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 business entity suffix “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.
Is a DBA required in Georgia?
Any Georgia sole proprietorship or partnership that wants to do business under a name that is different from the owner’s full name or a Georgia 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 name.
Does a sole proprietor need a business license in Georgia?
It’s very likely that a sole proprietor (or any business entity) in Georgia will need a business license.
Business license requirements vary depending on where the business is located and what the business does. While there isn’t a state business license, many cities require one. In addition, it’s common for a business to register for a sales tax number and Employer Identification Number (EIN).
Related: What business licenses and permits are needed in Georgia?