In Kentucky, a business operating under a fictitious name may 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 an Assumed Name in Kentucky.

When a business wants to operate under a name other than their legal name, the state of Kentucky, 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 an Assumed Name vary, depending on the type of business entity. 

Sole proprietorships will commonly register for a DBA. 

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 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. 

General Partnerships, Corporations 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 having to form another entity.

Kentucky DBA Registration 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.

General Partnerships, Corporations and LLCs – Certificate of Assumed Name

How much does it cost to register?

The cost for register the Certificate of Assumed Name for a sole proprietorship is typically $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

The Certificate of Assumed Name form is available from many County Clerk’s websites, however some will require you to pick up the form at their office. 

Step 2 – Fill out the Form

Common information requested on the form includes:

– Assumed Name
– Name of the business owner
– Address of the business
– Signature

List of County Clerk’s offices.

Step 3 – Submit the Form

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

General Partnerships, Corporations, LLCs

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 more information on how to do a name search in Kentucky.  

Step 2 – Fill out the Form

Information requested on the form includes:

– Assumed Name
– Name of the business adopting the fictitious name
– Type of business entity
– Where the business is organized
– Mailing address

Step 3 – Submit the Form

Kentucky Secretary of State
Division of Business Filings
PO Box 718
Frankfort, KY 40602

Name Restrictions

DBAs can’t be registered using words that are related to banks, or cooperatives unless the business is licensed to provide those services or registered as a cooperative entity.  

Protecting your business name

Registering an Assumed Name will not stop anyone else from registering the exact same name in Kentucky.  If stopping others from using your business name is important, you can protect it through a trademark – Learn more about trademarking a business name.   

Questions?

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

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