In Georgia, 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. This name is often referred to as a Trade Name in Georgia.
When a business wants to operate under a name other than their legal name, the state of Georgia, 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?
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 their Trade Name.
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 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.
How much does it cost to register?
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.
What are the steps to file a DBA 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 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.
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
Protecting your business name
Registering a Trade Name will not stop anyone from registering the exact same name in Georgia. If stopping anyone from using your business name is important, you can protect it through a trademark – See how to protect your name through a trademark.