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In Michigan, 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.   

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

Michigan DBA Registration Form

Sole Proprietorships and Partnerships (Co-Partnership)

A “Certificate of Persons Conducting Business Under Assumed Name” must be filed with the County Clerks office in every county in which business is transacted.  The form is available on many County Clerk’s websites, in addition to the Clerk’s office.

Corporations, Limited Partnerships and Limited Liability Companies

Form – https://www.michigan.gov/documents/lara/541_08-15_527736_7.pdf
Online – https://cofs.lara.state.mi.us/corpweb/LoginSystem/ExternalLogin.aspx

How much does it cost to register?

Sole Proprietorships & Partnerships –   Generally $10 per county

Corporations & Limited Partnerships – $10

Limited Liability Company – $25

Regardless of business entity, name registrations are good for 5 years.

What are the steps to file a DBA in Michigan?

Sole Proprietorships & Partnerships

Step 1 – Obtain the Form
Obtain the “Certificate of Persons Conducting Business Under Assumed Name” from each county where the business will operate.

Step 2 – Verify Name Availability
DBAs must be unique from other business names being used in the state. 

To make sure your name isn’t already taken, first search name availability on the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs website.  Learn how to search the Michigan name database.

Next, search the counties where the business will be operating through the County Clerk’s office.  Many Clerks have a name search online, while others have to be done manually.

Step 3 – Fill out the Form
Once the name is verified to be available, the form needs to be filled out.  Common requested information includes:

Name being registered
Name and address of the owner
County or state where the business was organized
Description of what the business does

Step 4 – Notarize the Form
Before filing, be sure to have the form notarized.  Many County Clerk’s offices provide notary services at no-cost.

Step 5 – File the Form
File the form with each county where the business operates.

Corporations & LLCs

Step 1 – Verify Name Availability
Assumed Names must be unique from other business names being used in the state. 

To make sure your name isn’t already taken, first search name availability on the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs website.  Learn how to search the Michigan name database.

Step 2 – Fill out the Form
Corporations, Limited Partnerships and LLCs will fill out the “Certificate of Assumed Name Form” with the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) – Bureau of Corporations, Securities & Commercial Licensing – Corporations Division. 

Information requested includes:

Name and address of the filer
Name of the business entity
Identification number
Assumed name

Step 3 – File the Form
Submit the form along with the filing fee.

If mailing send to:
Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs
Corporations, Securities & Commercial Licensing Bureau
Corporations Division
P.O. Box 30054
Lansing, MI 48909

If submitting in person, visit:
Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs
2501 Woodlake Circle
Okemos, MI 48864

Name Restrictions

DBAs can’t be registered using words that are related to banking and insurance unless the business is licensed to provide those services.

Additionally, registered names can’t mislead the public to the actual activities of the business.

Protecting your business name

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

Questions?

If you have questions about the process, you can contact the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs – 517-241-6470

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