How to File a DBA in Maine
In Maine, 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.
Related: How to start a business in Maine
What is a DBA?
A DBA, also known as “Doing Business As,” “Trade Name,” “Assumed Name,” or “Fictitious Business 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 Maine, 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 a DBA good for?
A DBA is required for Maine 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 Maine DBA?
The requirements and need to register for a DBA vary depending on the type of business entity.
Sole proprietorships and general partnerships are the most common entities to register for a DBA.
The legal name of a sole proprietor or partnership in Maine 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.
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 forming another entity.
How much does a DBA cost in Maine?
The fee to register an Assumed Name for sole proprietorships and general partnerships vary by town and county but expect the filing fee to be between $10 and $20. This is a one-time fee.
The filing fee to register an Assumed Name for domestic corporations and LLCs is $125. On the same form, there is the option to register a Fictitious Name.
Fictitious Names are only for foreign entities, which refer to entities formed in another state.
Names must be renewed every 10 years.
What are the steps to file a DBA in Maine?
Sole Proprietorships and Partnerships
Step 1: Obtain the Assumed Business Name Form
Get the Assumed Business Name registration form from the Town or City Clerk’s office where the business will be located.
Sole proprietorships and partnerships will obtain a form from the Town or City Clerk’s office. Most have the form on their website, while others are available at the Clerks office.
Step 2: Fill out the Form
The form will vary by location, but typical information that is being requested includes the owner’s contact information and the business name being requested.
Step 3: Notarize the Form
Before signing and filing, the form will need to be notarized. Most Clerk’s offices will have a notary available.
Step 4: Submit the Form
Submit the form and payment. An Assumed Name Certificate will be provided once filed.
Corporations and LLCs
Step 1: Verify Name Availability
Assumed names in Maine must be unique. To see if the name you want is available, do a name search through the Maine Business Name Database on the Department of the Secretary of State’s website.
Learn how to do a Maine business name search
Step 2: Fill out the Form
There are different forms depending on the type of business entity.
Forms are available from the Maine Secretary of State. Corporations file Form MBCA-5, and LLCs file Form MLLC-5A
Step 3: File the Form
Fill out the form and file it with the Secretary of State.
The mailing address is:
Secretary of State
Corporate Examining Section
101 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333-0101
If you have questions about the process, contact the Maine Secretary of State at 207-624-7752.
Are there any naming restrictions when filing a Maine DBA?
DBAs can’t be registered using words related to banking, trust company, or credit unions unless the business is licensed to provide those services.
Additionally, a DBA 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.
Last, words that potentially refer to your business as a government agency (FBI, Treasury, State Department) can’t be used.
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 Maine
Does Maine require a DBA?
Any Maine sole proprietorship or partnership that wants to do business under a name that is different from the owner’s full name or a Maine 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 Maine require a business license?
The DBA registration isn’t a business license, so there may be additional requirements you have to complete before starting your business.
Most businesses will need some sort of license, but every business will have different requirements.
Check out what business licenses and permits are needed in Maine.