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How to File an Assumed Business Name (DBA) in North Carolina [2022]

How to File an Assumed Business Name (DBA) in North Carolina

In North Carolina, any business operating under a fictitious name will need to register an Assumed Business Name.  Learn more about what an Assumed Business Name is, who needs one and how to register.

What is an Assumed Business Name?

An Assumed Business Name, also known as a DBA or “Doing Business As,” “Trade 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 North Carolina, 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.

Who needs to register for an Assumed Name?

The requirements and need to register for a Trade Name are established under NC General Statute § 66-68 and vary depending on the type of business structure.

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 North Carolina 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.

How much does it cost to get a DBA in North Carolina?

The filing fee to register an Assumed Name in North Carolina varies by county but is typically $26.

What are the steps to file a DBA in North Carolina?

Step 1: Verify Name Availability

Before registering a Certificate of Assumed Name, a name search needs to be completed to verify the name you want to use is not being used by another business.

A statewide database of names is available on the North Carolina Secretary of State’s website. Learn how to do a business name search in North Carolina.

Step 2: Fill out the Assumed Business Name Form

The Assumed Business Name Certificate form (ABN) is available from the Secretary of State Corporations Division. Information requested on the form includes:
– Assumed business name
– Legal name of the business
– What the business does
– Physical and mailing address of the business
– List of counties where the assumed name will be used in North Carolina

Step 3: Submit the Form

Submit the form and filing fee with the county office of Register of Deeds in the county where the company’s principal office is located.

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.


Are there any naming restrictions when filing a North Carolina DBA?

DBAs can’t be registered in North Carolina using words that are related to banking, insurance, or farming, unless the business is licensed to provide those services.

Can someone steal my business name after registering a North Carolina DBA?

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

Learn more about trademarking a business name.

Does a DBA need an EIN?

An EIN or Employer Identification Number (sometimes referred to as a business tax ID 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 North Carolina

Is a DBA required in North Carolina?

North Carolina law requires that any person engaging in business in the State under an assumed business name must file an Assumed Business Name certificate in the Register of Deeds office of the county in which the business is located.