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Business Name Registration – DBA – “Doing Business As…”

January 29, 2010

The legal name of a business is the name of the person or entity that owns a business. If you are the sole owner of your business, its legal name is your full name. If your business is a partnership, the legal name is the name given in your partnership agreement or the last names of the partners. For limited liability corporations (LLCs) and corporations, the business’ legal name is the one that was registered with the state government.

Your business’ legal name is required on all government forms and applications, including your application for employer tax IDs, licenses and permits. However, if you want to open a shop or sell your products under a different name, then in Pennsylvania, you will have to file a “fictitious name” registration form with the state.

A fictitious name (or assumed name, trade name, or DBA name, short for “doing business as”) is a business name that is different than your personal name, the names of your partners or the officially registered name of your LLC or corporation.

For example, let’s say Mary Smith is a sole proprietor of a catering company she runs out of her house. Mary wants to name her business Riverside Catering instead using her business’ legal name, Mary Smith. In order to use Riverside Catering, Mary will need to register that name as a fictitious business name with a government agency.  In Pennsylvania fictitious names must be registered with the state government; in other states, you register fictitious names with the county clerk’s office; and in some others, there are no laws requiring businesses to register a fictitious business names.

Here are links to the requirements for fictitious name filing in Pennsylvania:

State DBA Filing Requirements
Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Department of State:

Fictitious Name Registration Requirements

Application for Registration of Fictitious Name

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