How to Set up a DBA in Massachusetts
A DBA or "doing business as" is not a formal business structure and does not offer any legal protection. To protect your assets while conducting business, we recommend following the 6 simple steps for starting an LLC.
For those who already have LLCs, DBAs can sometimes be beneficial for different brands under the same legal entity. Here are the steps to register a DBA in Massachusetts.
Step 1: Start With a Massachusetts DBA Name Search
The first step to getting a DBA is choosing the name and making sure it’s available. Your name can be similar to other business names, but it’s still a good practice to create a unique name.
TIP: Our business name generator tool is a great resource for entrepreneurs who are still working to create the perfect business name or website address. You can also use our free logo generator tool to make a logo yourself! No design experience necessary!
Before you file your DBA, you should search the state’s records to see if the name you would like is already being used.
Different cities may also have DBA databases you can search. For example, if your business is in Boston, you can search 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.
Find a Domain Now
After registering a domain name for your DBA, consider using a business phone service to improve customer satisfaction and further establish credibility. Our top pick is Nextiva because of its affordable pricing and useful features. Start calling with Nextiva.
Step 2: Register Your Massachusetts DBA with the City Clerk
In Massachusetts, you register your business certificate with the city or town where you are doing business.
We will give you step-by-step directions to get a City of Boston business certificate. If you need to file in a different city or town, you’ll need to contact the correct clerk for instructions.
These links will lead you to the fictitious business name websites for some of the more populated cities in Massachusetts:
You can find the complete list of town contact information here.
It's important to know that a DBA doesn't 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.
How to File a City of Boston DBA
At this point, you should’ve already chosen a name for your business and completed the name searches in Step 1 above.
Most business owners use the City of Boston Clerk’s online business certificate portal to gain access to various DBA forms. These forms must be notarized.
Submit Your Business Certificate
Walk-In or Mail
Office of the City Clerk, 1 City Hall Square
Room 601, Attn: Business Certificates
Boston, MA 02201
- $65 filing fee
- $35 additional fee for non-residents
Manage Your City of Boston DBA
Call the city clerk at 617-635-4600 for general questions about City of Boston business certificates.
Renew Your DBA
You are required to renew your Boston business certificate every 4 years. Renewal forms can be found on the City of Boston's website. It is the same form as when you registered, but this time you check the box next to “Renewal.” The fee for renewing your business certificate is $65, plus$35 if you are a non-resident. The form must be notarized.
Change Your DBA
Withdraw Your DBA
You can withdraw your City of Boston business certificate by filling out this form. The fee is $50.
Need Help Filing Your Massachusetts DBA?
Have a Professional Service File Your Massachusetts DBA For You
A professional service will handle filing your DBA on your behalf, allowing you to focus on the other needs of your new business.
We recommend using LegalZoom ($99 + state fee) for a personalized DBA service.
DBA Massachusetts FAQ
Can I file a DBA online in Massachusetts?
You will need to contact the city or town of your principal place of business to find out if online filing is available. You can find the complete list of county contact information here.
How do I withdraw my Massachusetts DBA?
You will need to contact the city or town of your principal place of business to find out how to withdraw your business certificate. You can find the complete list of county contact information here.
How can I insure my Massachusetts DBA?
DBAs don’t require insurance because DBAs aren't a business entity. However, the business entity that the DBA is under will need protection from losses that can happen naturally in the course of business, such as property damage or lawsuits.
How do I change my DBA in Massachusetts?
You will need to contact the city or town of your principal place of business to find out how to change your business certificate. You can find the complete list of county contact information here.
How often should I renew my Massachusetts DBA?
You are required to renew your business certificate in Massachusetts every 4 years. You will need to contact the city or town of your principal place of business to find out how to renew your business certificate. You can find the complete list of county contact information here.
When is a DBA required in Massachusetts?
A DBA is required whenever a business is operating under a name other than its legal name.
How Do I Transfer my DBA in Massachusetts?
You will need to contact the city or town of your principal place of business to find out if you can transfer your business certificate. You can find the complete list of county contact information here.
Is my 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 this varies from state to state. It is possible to trademark 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.