Step 1) Start with a DBA Name Search
If you haven't already, head over to North Carolina's Secretary of State website to make sure your fictitious name isn't taken by another registered North Carolina business. Your name can be similar to other business names, but it’s still a good practice to create a unique name.
Your name should NOT include:
- Any terms given to financial institutions, including; bank, banker, banking, mutual, trust, or other similar words.
- The following words (without proof that your business is legally qualified to offer these services): Architect, Architecture, Architectural, Certified Public Accountant, Engineer, Engineering, Insurance, Pharmacy, Prescription Drug, Drug, Prescription, Rx, Apothecary, Realtor, Surveyor, Survey, Surveying, Wholesale
You can find more details about business naming restrictions here.
Next, a quick search on the U.S. Trademark Electronic Search System will tell you whether someone else has already trademarked your name.
Now would be the perfect time to make sure there’s a web domain available for your DBA as well.
Step 2) Register Your North Carolina DBA
In North Carolina, you register your DBA with the Register of Deeds office in your business’ home county.
You must complete the Assumed Business Name Certificate form and return it to your local office. You can enter multiple counties on the form if you do business in more than one county, and it does not need to be notarized.
The application will ask for your new DBA name and information about your business, such as:
- Section 3: Type of business
- Section 4: Street address of principal place of business
- Section 6: Counties where assumed name will be used to conduct business
A DBA does not offer any protection for your personal assets in the event that your business is sued. For more information on setting up a limited liability company, visit our How to Form an LLC page and select your state.
Submit Your Form
You must submit your assumed business name certificate form with your county’s Register of Deeds office.
You can find contact information for each county’s office here.
If your business is located in Mecklenburg County, return the completed form to the address below. If it is located in a different county, you must file the form with that county’s office.
720 E. 4th Street
Charlotte, NC 28202
- $26 Filing Fee
Manage Your North Carolina DBA
Call the North Carolina Secretary of State at 919-814-5400 or your county’s Register of Deeds office.
Renew Your DBA with the County
Your North Carolina assumed business name does not expire and therefore does not need to be renewed.
Change Your DBA
To make changes to your assumed business name certificate, complete this form and return it to the same Register of Deeds office where the name was registered. The filing fee is $26.
Withdraw Your DBA
To cancel your assumed name, complete this form and return it to the Register of Deeds office in the county where you registered the name. The filing fee is $26.
Can I file a DBA online in North Carolina?
No. You must return your assumed business name certificate form to your county’s Register of Deeds office.
How do I change my DBA in North Carolina?
To make changes to your assumed business name certificate, complete this form and return it to the same Register of Deeds office where the assumed name was originally filed.
How can I withdraw my DBA?
To cancel your assumed name, complete this form and return it to the Register of Deeds office in the county where you registered the name.
How often should I renew my North Carolina DBA?
You do not need to renew your assumed name in North Carolina.
When is a DBA required in North Carolina?
A DBA is required whenever a business is operating under a name other than its legal name. In the case of a sole proprietorship, you will need a DBA if you are operating under a name other than your own personal name.
How do I transfer my DBA in North Carolina?
To transfer your assumed business, complete this form with the appropriate changes and return it to your county’s Register of Deeds office.
Is my North Carolina DBA protected from being used in other places?
There are some state-level laws that prevent DBAs that are too similar to existing ones from being used, but your name is not protected in North Carolina. It is possible to create a federal trademark for a DBA, which would offer stronger protection across state lines.
How many DBAs can I have?
You can have as many DBAs as you can afford to create and are able to keep track of. However, more isn’t necessarily better. Each one will come with additional incremental expense and paperwork, so you will want to make sure you have a good reason for each one you have.
Can a DBA get an EIN or Tax ID?
DBAs aren’t required to have a separate EIN because DBAs aren’t a business entity. The business entity that the DBA is under would have an EIN if an EIN is required.
To learn more about EINs and when you would need one for your business, read What is An EIN from our friends at TRUiC.
Can a DBA become an LLC?
Your DBA is just a name. A DBA is often confused with a sole proprietorship. If you mean “can my sole proprietorship become an LLC?” then the answer is “Yes. Absolutely.”
To learn how to form an LLC, visit our Form an LLC state guides.
Can a DBA have "Inc." in the name?
A DBA can only have "Inc." in the name if the business entity the DBA is attached to is incorporated. Incorporated businesses include LLCs, corporations, and Limited Partnerships to name a few.
How do I set up a DBA for a Rental Property?
It’s always best to consult an attorney. Usually, the best option is to form an LLC to protect your personal assets in the event of an issue with the rental property. Holding the rental property in your name and with a DBA will not afford you any protection.
Need Help Filing Your DBA?
A professional service will handle filing your DBA on your behalf, allowing you to focus on the other needs of your new business.
- LegalZoom ($99 + state fee) for the most popular DBA filing service available.
- MyCompanyWorks ($99 + state fee) for a more personalized DBA filing service.