How to Register a Maryland DBA

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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 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, 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 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.

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

Maryland DBA Registration Form

The form can be completed online or by mail.

How much does a DBA cost 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 file a DBA in Maryland?

Step 1 – Obtain the Form

The Trade Name Application can be downloaded or 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 includes:

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:

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

Can someone steal my 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.

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 Maryland