The abbreviated business term DBA means ‘doing business as.’ A DBA is a registered business name that an individual or company operates under that is not the company’s 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 North Dakota, a DBA is most commonly called a fictitious business name for partnerships, and a trade name for every other type of business entity (sole proprietor, LLC, corporation)

For example, if you’re the sole proprietor of a business, its legal name defaults to your personal name. (e.g., Blake Walker). Blake Walker wants to open a car repair shop. He doesn’t want the business to have his own name. So, Blake Walker registers his DBA name, Blake’s Brakes, in North Dakota. It is now the business name. The DBA changes nothing else about Blake’s Brakes.

The North Dakota DBA allows Blake Walker to operate his business under this business trade name in North Dakota. Without a DBA, his business name would default to Blake Walker.

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How to set up a DBA in North Dakota

Step 1 – North Dakota trade name or fictitious name search

All North Dakota DBA names must be unique and meet the state requirements.

You will search the North Dakota Secretary of State’s website for name availability.

Step 2 – File the DBA in New Dakota with the Secretary of State

In North Dakota, there are two different types of DBAs. A fictitious business name applies to only partnerships, while it is a business trade name for all other business entities.

You can file your North Dakota trade name or fictitious Name online using the North Dakota Secretary of State’s FirstStop Website regardless of your business type.

Sole proprietors, LLCs, and corporations can file the North Dakota Trade Name Form by mail or fax.

Mailing address:
North Dakota Secretary of State
State of North Dakota
600 E Boulevard Avenue Dept 108
Bismarck ND 58505-0500

North Dakota Secretary of State Fax Number: 701-328-2992

Step 3 – Pay North Dakota filing fees

The DBA cost in North Dakota is $25. It expires five years from the date of registration.

You will receive a renewal form from the Secretary of State 60-90 days before it expires.

The cost for renewal is $25.

North Dakota assumed business name restrictions

North Dakota has DBA name restrictions. A trade name can’t include the following.

  • Business entity suffixes, including LLC, Incorporated, Corp, etc., unless the business is actually an LLC, corporation, etc
  • Any words that insinuate or imply a company is organized for unlawful purposes.

Forms needed to file a DBA in North Dakota

North Dakota DBA tax considerations

  • In North Dakota, filing a DBA only changes the name of a business.
  • A DBA has zero 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 North Dakota?

In North Dakota, the filing fee for a DBA is $25. The state does not offer any expedited services.

North Dakota DBAs expire five years from the date of registration.

You will receive a renewal form from the Secretary of State 60-90 days before it expires.

The cost for renewal is $25.

Professional DBA filing services

  • LegalZoom: LegalZoom does it all. Its design aims to be a “one-stop-shop” for small businesses and their legal needs but its DBA filing service is top-rated.
  • Swyft Filings: Swyft Filings assigns a registered agent to every client, making them a customer favorite. Swyft Filings offers a DBA obtainment package that costs $99 plus state fees.
  • 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 name check in states that require them. Alabama does.
  • 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.

DBA vs business trade name

  • A DBA name is how companies do business under a unique name that is not the 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 trade name is that a DBA is only 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?

In North Dakota, all sole proprietors, partnerships, corporations, LLCs, LPs, and LLPs file a DBA 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. North Dakota requires that new businesses acquire a DBA before operating using a different name. Regardless, registering a DBA is recommended for all new businesses.
  • Sole proprietors. Without a DBA, the company name for a sole proprietor defaults to their personal name. This is because they share the same legal entity with their company.
  • LLCs. In North Dakota, all LLCs must file a DBA when operating a new business outside of their primary LLC. Without a DBA, every new company an LLC owns would do so under the LLC’s legal name.
  • Corporations. A DBA gives corporations the freedom to operate businesses in various industries. In North Dakota, 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 utilize DBAs to operate under a name that isn’t their company name. For example, if you invest in Long John Silver’s, it is formed as an LLC and listed as 4512 Long John Silver’s LLC. To shorten the name from its numerical listing to just Long John Silver’s, you must file a DBA in North Dakota.

A DBA benefits small business owners and startups the most. It allows businesses the creative freedom to name their business what they wish.

Registering a DBA saves business owners from the expensive and over-complicated process of forming a separate limited liability company just to name their business.

Why do you need a DBA?

  • A DBA keeps things simple for small businesses and startups. A DBA just changes the name of a company. DBA registration in North Dakota is a cost-effective and simple process 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 filing a DBA in North Dakota. All LLCs in North Dakota must file a DBA if they intend to use a business name that isn’t the company’s legal name. Without a DBA, an LLC has to form separate LLCs for every business it buys. For example, Annette’s Produce LLC wants to start a vegan boxed food service. The LLC must file a DBA to change the name to Lettuce In the Door, but the business would remain owned and operated by Annette’s Produce LLC.
  • A DBA addresses the privacy concerns of sole proprietorships and general partnerships. In North Dakota, sole proprietors and co-partnerships must use their personal names on public-facing material such as signage unless they register a DBA name.
  • A DBA separates the owner from the business. Alone, a DBA does not offer any legal protection. However, a DBA proves that your personal assets are separate from your business assets to protect. A DBA also reduces your personal liability.
  • A DBA makes banking safer and more accessible. Most financial institutions require companies to file a DBA before opening a business bank account. Financial professionals recommend opening a bank account for a new business because it separates your business banking account from your personal account. A DBA does not offer any liability protection by itself.
  • A DBA makes branding and marketing easier in North Dakota. Your brand name, or company name, catches the attention of potential customers and clients. A DBA lets your audience know what you’re offering. For example, had Blake Walker not filed a DBA in North Dakota, no one would know he opened a car repair shop.


How long does the filing process take in North Dakota?

It takes North Dakota 2-3 weeks to process a trade name registration. The Secretary of State does not offer any expedited services.

Can I make changes or amendments to my DBA in North Dakota?

The North Dakota Secretary of State does not allow changes or amendments to existing DBA names.

You must cancel your current trade name and file a new DBA registration.

The DBA processing fee in North Dakota is $25.

Can I withdraw or cancel my North Dakota?

North Dakota does not provide you with a cancelation or withdrawal form.

You must draft your own cancelation request. You will then submit your form with a $10 pressing fee to the North Dakota Secretary of State.

Secretary of State

State of North Dakota

600 E Boulevard Avenue Dept 108

Bismarck ND 58505-0500

How is the Fictitious Partnership Name Certificate different than a Trade Name Registration form?

All business entities in North Dakota file a Trade Name Registration form except partnerships.

All partnerships file a Fictitious Partnership Name Certificate and can only submit it online.

Pay particular attention to specific sections of the Fictitious Partnership Name Certificate.

  • The fictitious business name that you are registering.
  • The type of partnership of the business.
  • A full description of the business.
  • The name and contact info for all partners.

How many DBAs can I have in North Dakota?

You can register as many DBA names as you can afford and keep up in North Dakota.

You must register each fictitious business name with the North Dakota Secretary of State.