How to Register a Kentucky DBA

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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.

Related: How to start a business in Kentucky

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 its legal name, the state of Kentucky, like most states, requires 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.

What is a DBA good for?

A DBA 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 Kentucky DBA?

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, 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 forming another entity.

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

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 a DBA in Kentucky cost?

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

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

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

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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 related to banks or cooperatives unless the business is licensed to provide those services or registered as a cooperative entity.

Can someone steal my business name?

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

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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