How to Register an Assumed Business Name in North Carolina

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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, 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 North Carolina, 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 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 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.

North Carolina DBA Registration Form

The Assumed Business Name Certificate form (ABN) is available from the Secretary of State.

How much does it cost to register?

The filing fee to register an Assumed Name varies by county in North Carolina but is typically around $30.

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.

Learn how to do a business name search in North Carolina.

Step 2 – Fill out the Form
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 Register of Deeds in the county where the company’s principal office is located.

Name Restrictions

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

Protecting your business name

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

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