How to File a DBA in Maine

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What is a DBA (doing business as)?

The term DBA meansdoing business as.’ A DBA is any registered name that a business or individual uses to operate a business under a name that is not its legal name.

The legal name of a business is different depending on the business structure. For LLCs and corporations, the name defaults to the company’s name. For sole proprietors and general partnerships, the legal name defaults to the business owner‘s personal name.

DBAs are also called fictitious names, trade names, and assumed names. A DBA is most commonly called an assumed business name in Maine.

For example, if you start a business, its legal name will be your personal name (e.g., Jim Williams ).  He wants to open a gym and doesn’t want the business’s name to be Jim Williams. So, he files a DBA to change the name of his company to Jim’s Gym. Jim’s Gym is now the name of the company. Nothing else about the gym changes except the name. The Maine DBA allows Jim Williams the freedom to name his business and operate using an assumed name.

DBA vs assumed business name

  • In Maine, a DBA is most commonly called an assumed name
  • An assumed business name, or DBA, is how companies operate using a name that is not their legal name in Maine. 
  • Companies in any industry in Maine can register a DBA name. It includes sole proprietorships, LLCs, corporations, franchises, and non-profits.
  • A DBA is only an alias.
  • A DBA and an assumed business name are the exact same things. 

Who needs a DBA?

All corporations, limited liability companies (LLCs),  and partnerships must file a DBA in Maine if they intend to use an assumed name that is not the company’s legal name.

DBAs benefit business owners in a variety of ways. The benefits are dependent on your business structure and personal preferences.

  • New businesses. A DBA is the easiest way to operate a business under a name that is not the business’s legal name
  • Sole proprietors. A business and its owner are the same legal entity. So, the owner and the company share a name unless a DBA is filed.
  • LLCs. In Maine, DBA registration is required for all LLCs. Without a DBA, every new business an LLC buys and operates would do so under its legal name. Also, registering an assumed name in Maine allows an LLC to expand its company outside its legal name.
  • Corporations. Corporations own and operate different types of businesses in a variety of industries. Maine requires that all corporations file a DBA if they intend on using a different name from the corporation’s legal name.
  • Franchises. Most franchises utilize DBAs. For example, if you purchase a Wendy’s franchise. Wendy’s is an LLC, and a new franchise would be listed as “486 Business LLC”. The franchise owner must file a DBA in Maine to change the business name to just Wendy’s from its numerical listing. A DBA also lets Maine know that you’re now part of Wendy’s franchise.

A DBA allows small business owners and startups the creative freedom to name their companies what they want. A DBA also helps small businesses avoid the costly and complicated process of forming an LLC.

Why do you need a DBA?

  • A DBA keeps things simple for a small business owner. DBA registration just changes the name of a business. However, a DBA accomplishes more than that. Filing a DBA in Maine is a cheap and straightforward way for sole proprietors to use an assumed name without the complication of forming a separate LLC or incorporation.
  • A DBA benefits your LLC or corporation. Maine mandates that all LLCs file a DBA if they use a business name that isn’t the company’s legal name. Without a DBA, a limited liability company has to form separate LLCs for every business it buys. For example, Erin’s Meat LLC wants to open a chicken restaurant named Wings and Things. The LLC must file a DBA to change the name, but Wings and Things would remain owned and operating by Erin’s Meat LLC. 
  • A DBA protects the privacy of sole proprietors. A DBA gives a business owner the freedom to use a fictitious business name on public-facing material rather than using their own name.
  • A DBA simplifies business banking. Most financial institutions require businesses to file a DBA before opening a business bank account. It is safest to open a bank account for a new business separate from your personal business account. It is recommended to protect your personal assets and credit scores in case your business fails.  A DBA offers no legal protection or liability protection.
  • A DBA simplifies branding, too. Your brand name, or company name, is what makes your business shine and catches the attention of potential customers.  Also, you want your audience to know what you’re offering. For example, had Jim Williams not filed a DBA, no one would know he owned a gym.

How to set up a DBA in Maine for sole proprietorship or general partnership

Step 1 – Maine assumed name search

All assumed business names in Maine must be unique and meet the state’s requirements.

You will visit the Maine Secretary of State‘s website and check the availability of the DBA name you wish to use.

Step 2 – File the DBA in Maine with the city clerk

In Maine, sole proprietors and partnerships register DBAs with the city clerk’s office in which they do business.

You can find the appropriate city clerk’s office by searching the Maine Secretary of State’s website

Sole proprietors and partnerships have separate applications. You will submit your completed and notarized application. You can file your DBA either by mail or in person.

Assumed Name form for Partnerships

Assumed Name form for Sole Proprietorships 

Example – Portland

You will want to check both the  Maine business name database and the records of your local city clerk’s office.

Filing address:

Portland City Clerk

389 Congress Street

Portland, ME 04101

Portland city clerk’s office at (207) 874-8677

Step 4 – Pay Maine filing fees

The DBA cost in Maine is $10. Maine does not offer expedited services.

DBAs in Maine do not expire and do not require renewal.

How to File a DBA in Maine for LLCs, LLPs, and corporations

LLCs and corporations are required to file a DBA in Maine. The process for filing is different and applies to the following:

  • For-profit Corporations
  • Non-profit Corporations
  • Professional Corporations
  • Professional Associations
  • Limited Partnerships
  • Limited Liability Partnerships
  • Limited Liability Companies
  • All Foreign Filing Entities

Step 1- Maine assumed name check

Assumed business names in Maine must be unique and meet the state requirements.

You will visit the Maine Secretary of State‘s website and check for the availability of a DBA name.

Step 2 – Register your Maine assumed name

If your business is incorporated, you must register your DBA with the Maine Department of State. 

Maine has different forms depending on your business structure.

In Maine, there is a difference between an assumed name and a fictitious name. An assumed name is just like a regular DBA. A fictitious name is used by businesses from outside of Maine whose DBA name is not available. 

Filing address:

Maine Secretary of State

Division of Corporations, UCC, and Commissions

101 State House Station

Augusta, ME 04333-0101

Maine Secretary of State 207-624-7752

Step 3 – Pay Maine filing fees

The filing fee for an assumed name in Maine is $125. The cost for a fictitious name for businesses not based in Maine is $40.

DBAs in Maine do not expire and do not require renewal.

You will file your DBA and pay filing fees either by mail or in person. 

Notarization

Maine requires that a notary of the public notarize the Assumed Name form for Partnerships or Assumed Name form for Sole Proprietorships.

Maine DBA name restrictions

In Maine, an assumed business name can’t contain any of the following:

  • Any words that people could confuse your business with a governmental agency (FBI, Treasury, State Department)
  • Any words that insinuate or imply that your company is organized for unlawful reasons.
  • Obscene words or language.
  • Any words relating to financial institutions such as a bank, trust, credit union, etc, without prior approval from the Maine Bureau of Financial Institutions.

Forms needed to file a DBA in Maine

Maine DBA tax considerations

In Maine, a DBA only change the name of a business. It has no effect on the status of a business entity for tax purposes.

The IRS does not require that you get a separate tax ID.

How much does a DBA filing cost in Maine?

The DBA filing fee for sole proprietors and partnerships is $10. Maine does not offer any expedited services.

For LLCs and incorporated companies, the DBA cost is $125 for an assumed name.

The cost for LLCs and corporation from outside of Maine is $40.

Sole proprietors and partnerships must have their paperwork notarized. The cost is dependent on the public notary’s fees.

Professional DBA filing services

  • ZenBusiness: ZenBusiness is an affordable solution for entrepreneurs, such as affordable LLC formations, and incorporations. ZenBusiness does offer a stand-alone registered agent service for $99 a year.
  • Swyft Filings: Swyft Filings is a quality DBA service. They assign a registered agent to every client, making them a customer favorite. Swyft Filings offers a DBA obtainment package that costs $99 plus state fees.
  • LegalZoom: LegalZoom does it all. The purpose of its design is to be a “one-stop-shop” for small businesses and their legal needs.
  • MyCompanyWorks: MyCompanyWorks doesn’t have the experience that other professional DBA obtainment services have. However, they’ve served thousands of businesses successfully. MyCompanyWorks offers one DBA filing package for $99 plus state fees. You can add a couple of extras for additional fees.
  • CorpNet: Corpnet’s biggest draw is that they have the best customers. It is hard to find a bad review about their DBA obtainment services.
  • MyCorporation: MyCorporation has served over a million businesses over the last 20+ years. Their customer reviews reflect their longevity and success. The cost of MyCorportation DBA services is $99 plus State Fees. The expedited rush service is an additional $100.
  • BizFilings: BizFilings offers entrepreneurs and small businesses services, such as LLC filing and incorporation services.  The starting price of $99 plus state fees for BizFilings DBA obtainment services is pretty standard. However, it doesn’t include a namecheck in states that require them. Alabama does.

FAQs

It takes Maine 10-15 business days to process a DBA

You can cancel or withdraw your Maine DBA using the DBA withdrawal application. You will submit your completed form to the city clerk’s office in which you registered your DBA name.

You can cancel or withdraw your DBA in Maine by completing and submitting the proper form. The forms differ depending on your business structure.

The processing fee to withdraw or cancel a Maine DBA for LLCs is $20.

The forms must be submitted to the Maine Secretary of State either in person or by mail.

Secretary of State

Division of Corporations, UCC, and Commissions

101 State House Station

Augusta, ME 04333-0101

You can make changes to your Maine DBA by contacting Maine Bureau of Corporations, Elections, and Commissions.

207-624-7736

You don’t have to have a separate employer identification number EIN. DBAs are not legal business entities.

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