The abbreviated term DBA means ‘doing business as.’ A DBA is any registered business name that an individual or company operates under that is not the legal name.
The legal name of a business is different depending on its business entity. For LLCs, the legal name defaults to the company name. And, for sole proprietors, it is the owner’s own name.
A DBA is also often referred to as a fictitious name, assumed name, or trade name. In New Jersey, it is most commonly called a trade name.
For example, if you’re the sole proprietor of a business, its legal name defaults to your personal name. (e.g., Kate Jones). Kate Jones wants to open a skating rink. She doesn’t want the business to have her legal name. So, Kate Jones registers her DBA name in New Jersey as Kate’s Skate World. It now becomes the business name, but it doesn’t change the business in any other way.
The DBA allows Kate Jones to conduct business under this trade name in New Jersey. Without a DBA, her business name would be Kate Jones.
DBA vs business trade name
- A DBA name is how companies do business under a specific name that is not their legal name.
- A business trade name, or DBA, is how businesses operate using a name that is the business’ legal name.
- The only difference between a DBA name and a business trade name is that a DBA is just an alias.
- A DBA must be associated with a legal business entity.
- A DBA and a business trade name are the same things.
Who needs a DBA?
New Jersey mandates that all sole proprietors, partnerships, corporations, LLCs, LPs, and LLPs register a DBA name if they conduct business using any name other than the full legal name.
A DBA benefits a business in various ways. The pros are dependent on your business structure and personal preferences.
- New businesses. New Jersey requires that new businesses acquire a DBA before operating using a different name. Also, registering a DBA is a recommended business practice for new businesses.
- Sole proprietors. Without a DBA, the company name for a sole proprietor default to their personal legal name. It is because they share the same entity with their company.
- LLCS. In New Jersey, all LLCs must register a DBA name when operating a new business outside of their primary LLC. Without a DBA, every LLC company that owns and operates would share the LLC name.
- Corporations. A DBA gives corporations the ability to operate businesses in various industries and any type of business. In New Jersey, a corporation that intends to run a business using a trade name that isn’t the company’s name must register a DBA.
- Franchises. Franchises use DBAs to operate under a name that isn’t their company name. For example, if you purchase a CC’s Coffee franchise, it is formed as an LLC and listed as 6554 CC’s Cofee LLC. To shorten the name from its numerical listing to just CC’s Coffee, you must file a DBA in New Jersey.
A DBA benefits small business owners and startups the most because it gives them the creative freedom to name their business. DBA registration saves owners money and time that would go into creating a separate LLC or corporation just to change the company name.
Why do you need a DBA?
- A DBA eliminates the hassle of forming a separate LLC for small businesses and startups. DBA registration only changes the name of a company. Filing a DBA in New Jersey is a cost-effective and hassle-free way for sole proprietors to use a trade name without the complication of forming a separate LLC or incorporation.
- Your LLC or corporation will benefit from a DBA. In New Jersey, all LLCs must file a DBA if they use a business name that isn’t the company’s full legal name. Without a DBA, an LLC has to form separate LLCs for every line of business it buys. For example, Joseph’s Music LLC wants to open a guitar shop. The LLC must file a DBA to change the name, but the business would remain owned and operated by Joseph’s Music LLC.
- A DBA addresses the privacy concerns of sole proprietors and general partnerships. In New Jersey, sole proprietors and co-partnerships must use their personal names on public-facing material unless they file a DBA.
- Banking is made easier with a DBA. Most financial institutions require companies to file a DBA before opening a business bank account. It is safest to open a bank account for a new business because it separates your business banking account from your personal business account. It is recommended to protect your personal assets and credit scores. A DBA offers no legal protection or liability protection.
- A DBA and branding go hand-in-hand in New Jersey. Your brand name, or company name, is what catches the attention of your audience and makes you stand out against all the rest. You want your customers to know what you’re offering. For example, had Kate Jones not filed a DBA, no one would know she opened a skating rink.
How to set up a DBA in New Jersey for a sole proprietorship or general partnership
Step 1 – New Jersey trade name search
A DBA name in New Jersey must be unique and meet the state requirements.
You will visit the New Jersey Division of Revenue and Enterprise Services’ website and search for the availability of a business trade name.
Step 2 – File the DBA in New Jersey with the County Clerk
Sole proprietors and partnerships in New Jersey must file a DBA with the County Clerk. You must file a DBA in any county you do business in.
You can find a complete contact list for New Jersey County Clerks using the Constitutional Officers Association New Jersey website.
Example – Middlesex County
First, you will search the Middlesex County trade name database for DBA name availability.
You will then fill out the Trade Name Certificate and submit the completed certificate either by mail or in-person to the Middlesex County Clerk.
Middlesex County Administration Building
75 Bayard Street
New Brunswick, NJ 08901
Middlesex County Clerk
PO Box 1110
New Brunswick, NJ 08903-1110
Step 3 – Pay New Jersey DBA filing fees
For sole proprietors and partnerships, the DBA cost in Middlesex County, New Jersey, is $50 in person and $58 if you file by mail.
You will want to check with your local county clerk to verify the price and office hours.
You can find a complete New Jersey County Clerks list using the Constitutional Officers Association New Jersey website.
New Jersey requires sole proprietors and partnerships to get the Trade Name Certificate notarized.
You will have to get it notarized by a notary public before returning the form if you file by mail.
You can get the certificate notified at your local County Clerk’s office for those who file in person.
How to file a New Jersey business DBA for LLC, Corporation, or LLP
New Jersey requirements for a new DBA for LLCs or corporations are different from those for sole proprietors.
The requirements apply to the following:
- For-profit Corporations
- Non-profit Corporations
- Limited Partnerships
- Limited Liability Partnerships
- Limited Liability Companies
- All Foreign Filing Entities
Step 1 – New Jersey business entity search
New Jersey requires that all DBA names be unique and meet the state requirements.
You will visit the New Jersey Division of Revenue and Enterprise Services’ website and check for the availability of the trade name you wish to use.
Step 2 – File New Jersey registration of alternate name
New Jersey requires incorporated businesses to register a DBA with the New Jersey Division of Revenue and Enterprise Services.
You can file your LLC’s DBA online using the New Jersey Business Charter Amendment Service website or by mail by completing and submitting the Registration of Alternate Name form.
NJ Division of Revenue
33 West State Street, 5th Fl.
Trenton, NJ 08608
NJ Division of Revenue
PO Box 308
Trenton, NJ 08646
New Jersey Department of Treasury’s Division of Revenue: 609- 292-9292
Step 3 – Pay New Jersey filing fees
The filing fee for a DBA in New Jersey for incorporations is $50.
A DBA for an LLC or corporation in New Jersey expires every five years and requires renewal.
You can renew your New Jersey DBA online or by mail using the Renewal of Registration of Alternate Name form.
The cost to renew your New Jersey DBA is $25 for corporations and $50 for other business entities.
New Jersey DBA business name restrictions
New Jersey has DBA registration name restrictions on names. An assumed name can’t include the following:
Forms needed to file a DBA in New Jersey
- Constitutional Officers Association New Jersey website
- Middlesex County trade name database
- Trade Name Certificate
- New Jersey Division of Revenue and Enterprise Services’ website
- New Jersey Business Charter Amendment Service website
- Registration of Alternate Name form
- Renewal of Registration of Alternate Name form
- 42:2C-8 and 14a:2-2
- Dissolution of a Business Name Certificate
- Certificate of Termination of Corporate Alternate Name
New Jersey DBA tax considerations
- In New Jersey, filing a DBA only changes the name of your business.
- A DBA has no effect on the status of a business entity for tax purposes.
- You do not have a separate employer identification number because a DBA is not a separate legal entity.
- Federally, the IRS does not require that you have a separate tax ID number.
How much does a DBA filing cost in New Jersey?
The DBA cost in New Jersey is $50 if filed online and $58 in person for sole proprietors and partnerships.
Sole proprietors must have the Trade Name Certificate notified. If you file by mail, you will have the additional cost of a notary public. For those that file in person, the price already includes notarization.
For LLCs and incorporations, the filing fee is $50.
A DBA for LLCs and corporations must be renewed every five years. The renewal processing fee is $25 for corporations and $50 for other entities.
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.
Sole proprietors that file a New Jersey DBA with a County Clerk should expect at least a two-week processing time. You will want to call your local county clerk for a better estimate.
It takes New Jersey2-4 business days to process DBAs for LLCs and corporations that file online.
You can cancel your New Jersey fictitious business name using the Dissolution of a Business Name Certificate form and submitting it to the county clerk in the counties you do business.
The processing fee for canceling a DBA for a sole proprietor is $25 if the form is notarized and $31 if it is notarized at the county clerk’s office.
LLCs and corporations must file the Certificate of Termination of Corporate Alternate Name form to withdraw their New Jersey DBA. The processing fee is $75.
You can register as many DBA names as you can afford and track.
You must register each fictitious business name with the New Jersey Department of Treasury’s Division of Revenue.