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What is an assumed business name?

You may have heard of assumed business names under the abbreviation “DBA,” which stands for “Doing Business As.” The definition of an assumed name depends on the type of entity. For a corporation or an LLC, an assumed name is any name the business entity uses other than the exact name it has registered with the North Carolina Secretary of State (NCSOS). For a sole proprietorship, it is any name other than the proprietor’s real name. For a general partnership, it is any name other than the real names of the partners. In all cases, the assumed name could be entirely different or just a variation of a company’s registered name.

Are you using an assumed business name?

This question may be more difficult to answer than you first think. For instance, say a company’s registered name is George Smith Carpet Cleaning, LLC. The business cards that say George’s Carpet Cleaning and the domain name that says gscarpetcleaning.com are both examples of using an assumed name. Domain names in particular are often overlooked as possible assumed names. Misleading terms such as using “Inc.” in the assumed name of a non-incorporated business are not allowed.

Why file a certificate?

The simple reason to file an assumed name certificate is that the State of North Carolina requires all businesses using assumed names to file them. One consequence of using an assumed name without filing is that you will be liable for any costs an injured party incurs in an effort to determine who owns your business. An even more serious consequence of not filing is that it may obliterate limited liability for the owners of an LLC or corporation, even if that LLC or corporation was properly formed and registered with the Secretary of State. Doing business under an unregistered assumed name can spell big trouble.

How do you file a certificate?

The NCSOS provides a form and information on its website. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the applicable statute – NCGS Chapter 66, Article 14A. If you have questions about whether you are doing business under an assumed name, how to choose an assumed name, or would like assistance completing the form, we would be glad to assist you. Contact us by phone or through our website to set up an appointment. We always recommend that business owners be proactive by seeking legal advice for all their business practices before any issues arise.

Did you know?

Certificates filed under the old system will expire on December 1, 2022. Perhaps you already filed an assumed name certificate years ago. If that is the case, you will need to file again prior to December 1, 2022. If you have already filed under the new system, you are in good shape. The new certificates do not expire or require renewal.

The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.