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How to File an Assumed Name (DBA) in Kentucky [2022]

Overview

How to File an Assumed Name (DBA) in Kentucky

In Kentucky, a business operating under a fictitious name may need to register for an Assumed Name Certificate.  Learn more about what an Assumed Name Certificate is, who needs one, and how to register.

Related: How to start a business in Kentucky

What is an Assumed Name?

An Assumed Name, also known as a “DBA,” “Doing Business As,” “Trade 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 Kentucky, 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 an Assumed Name good for?

An Assumed Name is required for Kentucky 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 Kentucky Assumed Name?

The requirements and need to register for an Assumed Name vary depending on the type of business entity.

Sole proprietorships will commonly register for a DBA name.

The legal name of a sole proprietor can be the owner’s full first and last name, which can be used without registering.  For example, if John Smith starts a business in Kentucky 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, he will need to register.

General Partnerships, Corporations, Limited Liability Partnerships, Limited Partnerships, and Limited Liability Companies – General Partnerships will commonly register a DBA, however, corporations and LLCs won’t as often 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 Kentucky?

The cost varies by county to register the Certificate of Assumed Name for a sole proprietorship but generally averages $13.

The filing fee to register an Assumed Name for General Partnerships, Corporations, and LLCs with the Secretary of State is $20.  This registration is renewed every five years.

What are the steps to file a DBA in Kentucky?

Sole Proprietorships

Step 1: Obtain the Form

Sole Proprietorships will obtain an Assumed Name Certificate form from the County Clerk’s office in the county where the principal office is located. Some Clerks’ websites have the form available for download, but some will require you to pick up the form at their office.

List of Kentucky County Clerk’s offices.

Step 2: Fill out the Form

Common information requested on the form includes:

– Assumed Name
– Contact information of the business owner
– Business address
– Signature

Step 3: Submit the Form

Return the form and file it with the County Clerk’s office along with the recording fee.  They will provide a Certificate of Assumed Name.

List of County Clerk’s offices.

General Partnerships, Corporations, Limited Liability Partnerships, Limited Partnerships, and Limited Liability Companies

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, search the Secretary of State’s database to see if the name you want is available.

Here is information on how to do a name search in Kentucky.

Step 2: Fill out the Certificate of Assumed Name Form

General Partnerships, Corporations, Lps, LLPs, and LLCs – Certificate of Assumed Name

Information requested on the form includes:

– Assumed name being requested
– Legal name of the business adopting the fictitious name
– Type of business entity
– Owner names
– Where the business is organized
– Mailing address

Step 3: Submit the Form

The form can be submitted in person at the Capitol Building. The address is:
Office of the Secretary of State
700 Capital Ave.
Room 154
Frankfort, Ky 40601

Alternatively, the form can be mailed to:
Office of the Secretary of State
Division of Business Filings
PO Box 718
Frankfort, KY 40602

If you have questions about the process, you can contact the Kentucky Secretary of State at 502-564-3490 or through their Contact Page.

Does Kentucky require a DBA?

Any Kentucky sole proprietorship that wants to do business under a name that is different from the owner’s full name or a Kentucky partnership, 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.

Are there any naming restrictions when filing a Kentucky DBA?

An Assumed Name registration 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 corporation in its name.

Also, Kentucky business names can’t be registered using words related to banks or cooperatives unless the business is licensed to provide those services or registered as a cooperative entity or words that refer to a government agency such as FBI, Treasury, etc.

Can someone use my business name after registering a Kentucky DBA?

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

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