In North Dakota, a business operating under a Fictitious Name will need to register with the Secretary of State.  Learn more about what a Fictitious Name is, who needs one and how to register.

What is a Fictitious Name?

A Fictitious Name, also known as a DBA or “Doing Business As”, Trade Name, or Assumed 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 Dakota, 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.  More information about the state statutes for Trade Names are provided in North Dakota Century Code Section 47-25-01.

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 Dakota DBA Registration Form

Trade Name Registration Form (SFN-13401)

How much does it cost to register?

The filing fee to register a Trade Name in North Dakota is $25.

Trade Names are renewed every five years.

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

Step 1 – Verify Name Availability
A business may not register a name that is the same or similar to another business in North Dakota, unless the current name holder agrees. If the name is being used or is similar to another registered name, a “consent to use of name” can be requested from the currently registered business.  There is a $10 filing fee that applies.

Names can be searched on the Secretary of State’s website.  Learn how to do a business name search in North Dakota.

Step 2 – Fill out the Form
Information requested on the form includes:

    • Trade Name to be registered
    • Address of the principal place of business
    • What the business does
    • Type of business entity
    • Name, Social Security Number and address of the owner(s)

Step 3 – Submit the Form
Submit the filing fee and form to:

Secretary of State
State of North Dakota
606 E Boulevard Ave Dept 108
Bismark, ND 58505-0500

Name Restrictions

DBAs can’t be registered using words that are related to banking unless the business is licensed to provide those services.  Also a name can’t include entity designators such as Incorporation, Corp, Limited Liability Company, LLC, etc.

Protecting your business name

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

Questions?

If you have questions about the process, you can contact the Secretary of State at 800-352-0867 (option 3)

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