In Maryland, 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 Maryland.

When a business wants to operate under a name other than their legal name, the state of Maryland, 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. 

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 Mike Smith starts a business cleaning houses but doesn’t use a business name he doesn’t have to register.  If Mike decides to name his business Mike’s Home Cleaners 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.

Maryland DBA Registration Form

The form can be completed online or by mail.

How much does it cost to register?

The filing fee to register a Trade Name in Maryland is $25.  Average turnaround is 5-7 business days.  Expedited service is available for an additional $50 and can be completed the same day.

The name registration is good for five years and can be renewed.

What are the steps to file a DBA in Maryland?

Step 1 – Obtain the Form

The Trade Name Application can be downloaded or can be filled out on the Maryland State Department of Assessments & Taxation website.

Step 2 – Verify Name Availability

Every name registration must be unique and not too similar to other names on record.  Before filling out the form, visit the business name database to see if the name you want is available. 

Learn more about doing a name search in Maryland.

Step 3 – Fill out the Form

After ensuring the business name you want is available, fill out the Trade Name form.

Information requested oTrade name

Address of the business
Name and address of the business owner

Description of the businessn the form includes:

Step 4 – Submit the Form

Click submit if filing online.  If mailing, send the completed form and payment to:

Charter Division
Department of Assessments and Taxation
301 W. Preston Street, Room 801
Baltimore, Maryland 21201

Name Restrictions

DBAs can’t be registered using words that are related to banking or insurance with words such as bank, banker, savings, trust, credit union and insurance unless the business is licensed to provide those services.  

Trade Names can’t use entity designators which are words that designate a business entity such as Corporation, Inc., Corp, LLC, Limited Liability Company, etc.

Last businesses performing home improvement services must contact the Maryland Home Improvement Commission to ensure a specific name is available

Protecting your business name

While registering your Trade Name will keep someone else from registering the exact same name in Maryland, 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 – See how to protect your name through a trademark.  

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