How to File a Trade Name (DBA) in Maryland
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.
Related: How to start a business in Maryland
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 officially 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, 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 Maryland 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 Maryland DBA?
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 forming another entity.
How much does it cost to file a DBA in Maryland?
The filing fee to register a Trade Name in Maryland is $25. The 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 set up a DBA in Maryland?
Step 1: Obtain the Trade Name form
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 how to do a Maryland business name search
Step 3: Fill out the Trade Name Form
After ensuring the business name you want is available, fill out the Trade Name form.
Information requested includes:
– Trade Name being requested
– Address of the business
– Name and address of the business owner
– Description of the business
Step 4: Submit the Form
Click submit if filing online. If mailing, send the completed form and payment to:
Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation
301 W. Preston Street, Room 801
Baltimore, Maryland 21201
Are there any naming restrictions when filing a Maryland DBA?
A Trade Name 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.
Additionally, 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.
Last businesses performing home improvement services must contact the Maryland Home Improvement Commission to ensure a specific name is available
Can someone use my business name after registering a Maryland DBA?
While registering your Trade Name will keep someone else from registering the exact same name in Maryland, 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.
Does Maryland require a DBA?
Any Maryland sole proprietorship or partnership that wants to do business under a name that is different from the owner’s full name or a Maryland 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.