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How to File a DBA in Michigan [2022]

How to File a DBA in Michigan

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.

Related: How to start a business in Michigan

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 its legal name, the state of Michigan, 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 filing is required for Michigan 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 Michigan DBA?

The requirements and filing process 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 in Michigan 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, Limited Liability Companies, and Limited Liability Partnerships 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/LLP umbrella to keep the liability protection without forming another entity.

How much does a DBA cost in Michigan?

Sole Proprietorships & Partnerships –   Generally $10 per county

Corporations & Limited Partnerships – $10

Limited Liability Company – $25

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. 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 Clerks’ websites or the form is available for pick up at the County Clerk’s office.

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
  • Contact information of the owner(s)
  • County or state where the business was organized
  • Description of what the business does

Step 4: Notarize the Form
Signatures must be done in front of a notary, so 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.

If you would prefer to have a someone else research DBA name availability and file the required forms, Swyft Filings, MyCompanyWorks, and LegalZoom offer a DBA registration service for $99, plus state fees.

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.

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

Information requested includes:

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

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

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

Are there any naming restrictions when filing a Michigan DBA?

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 about the actual activities of the business.

Also, an Assumed 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.

Can someone use my business name after registering a Michigan DBA?

While registering your Trade Name will keep someone else from registering the exact same name in Michigan, 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 Michigan require a DBA?

Any Michigan sole proprietorship or partnership that wants to do business under a name that is different from the owner’s full name or a Michigan 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.

Can an LLC have multiple DBAs in Michigan?

There are no limitations to the number of DBAs that can be registered in Michigan.

How long does a DBA last in Michigan?

In Michigan, DBAs must be renewed every five years.

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 Michigan