Step 1) Download The Registration Form
Once you’ve established that you indeed want or need to file an Alabama DBA, download the trade name registration form from the Alabama Secretary of State website. The form is the same whether you’re registering a trademark, service mark, or trade name, so don’t let that throw you off.
If you still need to check that your desired trade name is available, do a business entity name search first. If your name isn’t taken by any existing entity in Alabama, go ahead and proceed to the next step. Otherwise, you’ll need to meet with a professional to discuss options for modifying your trade name.
Step 2) Fill Out The DBA Registration Form
Alabama only accepts trade name registration applications in physical form, so you’ll need to print it out. You can do so either before or after you input all the necessary information, including:
- Your business type (LLC, sole proprietorship, partnership, etc.)
- Your business classification number (based on their list of classification options)
- Your street address and phone number (business or personal)
- The names and addresses of your partners, if applicable
- Your trade name and a description of how it will be used
- The date at which you started using the trade name
- Your signature (but don’t sign quite yet -- you’ll need to have a notary present)
As we mentioned earlier, you’ll also need to include three specimens that show your trade name in use. The form defines specimens as samples which perform the function of verifying usage of a mark. These can be original versions or copies of your business’ flyers, advertisements, business cards, brochures or any other legitimate piece of physical evidence that you’ve been operating under the name you’re applying for.
Alabama’s trade name registration filing fee is $30.00, so make sure to include a check for that amount made payable to the Alabama Secretary of State with your application.
Step 3) Notarize & Submit
The bottom section of the registration form is designated for a notary public. The Alabama Secretary of State does not provide notary services, so you’ll be responsible for finding one on your own. 123notary.com is a great resource for finding notaries in your area. Reach out to a few, and when you find one that seems reliable, book an appointment to authorize the document. Do not sign it ahead of time.
Once you have gotten that all taken care of, you’re finally ready to submit your application! Seal it up with your $30.00 check and send it to the following address:
Office of Secretary of State
Lands & Trademarks Division
PO Box 5616
Montgomery, AL 36103-5616
Keep in Mind...
There are a couple of things you need to know before moving forward with your Alabama DBA. If you read through their DBA registration form, you’ll find that Alabama doesn’t require any business to register a trade name in order to legally do business under that name.
In fact, you’ll need to submit evidence that you’ve already been using your trade name along with your DBA application. Sounds kind of backwards, right?
Essentially, Alabama handles DBAs the same as trademarks. Instead of applying to use your trade name, you’ll be applying to own it, and thus prevent any other company from operating under your name.
If you choose to use a DBA filing service instead of filing independently, you’ll have most of this legwork done for you. However, since Alabama is a little funky in the DBA department, not all providers offer services for Alabama businesses.