How to Register a Vermont DBA

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In Vermont, 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 Vermont

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 Vermont, 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.

What is a DBA good for?

A DBA is required for many businesses in order to legally operate and provides information on the people operating a business.  In addition to the legal requirement, a DBA offers other benefits such as proving the existence of a business, opening a bank account under a business name, registering a merchant account to accept credit cards, and others.

Who needs to register?

The requirements and need to register an Assumed Business Name are organized under Vermont State Statutes 11 V.S.A. § 1621;.  These requirements vary depending on the type of business entity.

Sole proprietorships and 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 operating under John Smith he doesn’t need 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.

Related: Difference between a sole proprietorship and Limited Liability Company (LLC)

How much does a DBA cost in Vermont?

The filing fee to register a Trade Name in Vermont is $50.

What are the steps to file a DBA in Vermont?

Step 1 – Verify Name Availability
A business may not register a name that is the same or similar to another business in Vermont.

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

Step 2 – Fill out the Form

The form to register a Trade Name in Vermont is available at the Secretary of State’s website. Information requested on the form includes:

  • Trade Name being requested
  • Type of business entity
  • Principal office address
  • Name and address of the owners/members/officers

 Step 3 – Submit the Form
Submit the filing fee and form to the Secretary of State.  Name registrations typically take one business day to process.

Name Restrictions

DBAs can’t be registered using words that:

  • Could imply government affiliation
  • Use discriminatory language
  • Use indecent or obscene language

Can someone steal my business name?

While registering your Trade Name will keep someone else from registering the exact same name in Vermont, 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 trademarking a business name.

Related: What is the difference between a trademark, copyright, and patent?

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 Vermont.

Questions?

If you have questions about the process, you can contact the Secretary of State at 888-647-4585 or in-person at 128 State Street, Montpelier, VT 05633.