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If you want to use a different name other than the legal name for your business in Michigan, you must file a DBA (Doing Business As) name. The public, specifically your potential customers, will recognize your business by its registered legal name. Using a trade name or DBA in marketing and sales can help your Michigan LLC reach a wider audience.
Michigan, also known as The Great Lakes State, has specific regulations for filing a DBA name. However, these regulations can vary depending on your business structure. At LLCBase, we understand that forming a business can be an overwhelming experience, so we are here to help you every step of the way. This article will provide the essential steps to obtain a DBA Name in Michigan.
On this page, you’ll learn about the following:
- What is a DBA
- How to Obtain a DBA Name in Michigan
- DBA Name in Michigan: A Detailed Guide
What is a DBA
A DBA, which stands for “Doing Business As,” is a name under which a business operates that differs from its legal name. It is also known as a trade, assumed, or fictitious name. A DBA allows business owners, such as sole proprietors, general partnerships, limited liability companies (LLCs), and corporations, to conduct business under a separate name without creating a new legal entity.
Registering a DBA is important for several reasons, including legal compliance, branding, and customer recognition. The process for obtaining a DBA varies by jurisdiction and may require filing with a state or county government office. Researching local regulations and following the steps to register your DBA name properly is essential.
Understanding DBA Names in Michigan
You must choose a name when you form an LLC or any business structure. Every company has a legal name. For example, a partnership or sole proprietorship might operate under the legal name of the company’s owner or owners. The name specified in the Articles of Incorporation or Articles of Organization can be used by any business entity, including corporations, limited liability companies (LLCs), and others.
There are situations when you may decide not to use your company’s registered legal name in Michigan for various reasons. Your company’s legal name might not be relevant to your business or no longer accurately describe it. Alternatively, you might want a new name without changing your incorporation or registration documents.
If you plan to start your business in Michigan under a name other than your personal name or an existing corporate name, you must file a DBA name with Michigan state, regardless of the type of business entity you have incorporated as (sole proprietor, partnership, corporation, or LLC).
There are no restrictions on how many DBA names you can use for your business. However, each DBA name must be filed with the state where you conduct business. This is necessary because the general public has a legal right to know whether a specific individual or company is operating under a name other than their legal name.
How to Obtain a DBA Name in Michigan
Want to obtain a DBA name in Michigan? Simply follow these easy-peasy steps, and you’ll be well on your way to securing that perfect “doing business as” name in no time!
Step 1: Check Name Availability
Before filing a DBA in Michigan, ensuring that no other business is already using your chosen name is crucial. To confirm name availability in Michigan, search the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs database provided by the Michigan Secretary of State. This step is important to avoid potential legal issues and confusion for customers.
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Step 2: Choose a DBA Name
In Michigan, fictitious names cannot be identical or too similar. A DBA should avoid deceiving the public by appearing confusingly similar to any other business name. When choosing a DBA name, ensure it follows the guidelines and restrictions the Michigan government sets. These guidelines may include avoiding certain words or phrases, such as those related to banking, insurance, or professional designations, without proper authorization.
Step 3: Register the Michigan DBA Name
Once you have determined that the name is available for registration, complete the required forms provided by your county or the Michigan Secretary of State. You must register your DBA name in the county where you intend to conduct business. In most Michigan counties, specific information is required, such as the company’s name, organization type, and description of the products or services to be provided under the Fictitious Name. Carefully complete the necessary forms and ensure all information is accurate and complete.
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Step 4: Submit the Application
To file the Michigan DBA Name, you must apply to the Michigan Secretary of State or the appropriate county office. In Michigan, you can file the DBA name using various methods, such as (three methods, online, by mail, and in person filing.). The cost of filing the Fictitious Name (DBA name) in Michigan is $25 for LLCs and $10 for LPs. This fee may vary depending on the method of filing or the specific county where you are registering your DBA name.
- Online: For online filing, check the Michigan Corporations Online Filing. There, look for the “Assumed Names” section. You will get the registration form.
- Offline: For filing offline, you must send the downloaded PDF form to the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, Corporations, Securities & Commercial Licensing Bureau, Corporations Division, P.O. Box 30054, Lansing, MI 48909 or drop it off in person at the 2501 Woodlake Circle, Okemos, MI
Step 5: Use the Michigan DBA Name
Once your DBA name is registered and approved, you can use it in your business operations. Be prepared to provide three “specimens” demonstrating the Trade Name used, such as business cards, booklets, flyers, labels, or stickers. These specimens may be requested by the Michigan Secretary of State or the county office as proof of usage. Properly displaying your DBA name in your marketing materials, signage, and other business documents is essential to ensure customers and clients know your new trade name.
Following these steps, you can obtain a DBA name in Michigan and use it to enhance your business’s visibility and reach.
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DBA Name in Michigan: A Detailed Guide
Read the comprehensive guide to renewing and changing a DBA name in Michigan:
Renewing a DBA Name in Michigan
It is essential to renew your DBA name periodically to maintain its validity. In most states, renewing a DBA name follows the same process as filing a new DBA name. Every five years, you should renew your Michigan DBA to ensure continued compliance with state regulations.
To renew your DBA name in Michigan, follow these steps:
- Check the renewal deadline: Be aware of the renewal deadline for your DBA name, typically every five years. Missing the deadline may result in penalties or loss of your trade name rights.
- Complete the renewal application: Obtain the renewal application from the Michigan Secretary of State or the appropriate county office. Fill out the required information, including updates on your business address, contact information, and a description of the products or services provided under the Fictitious Name.
- Submit the renewal application: Submit the completed renewal application to the Michigan Secretary of State or the appropriate county office by the deadline. Be prepared to pay the renewal fee, which may vary depending on the method of submission or the specific county where you are renewing your DBA name.
- Receive confirmation: Once your renewal has been processed and approved, you will receive confirmation from the Michigan Secretary of State or the county office. Keep this documentation for your records.
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Changing a DBA Name in Michigan
If you need to change your Trade Name (DBA or Fictitious Name), apply to the Michigan Secretary of State (SOS) or the appropriate county office. The process for changing a trading name is similar to registering a new DBA. You can reserve your DBA name for five years.
To change your trade name in Michigan, follow these steps:
- Check name availability: Before applying for a new trade name, ensure that another business still needs to use the desired name. Search the Michigan Government Records Inquiry System or the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs database provided by the Michigan Secretary of State to confirm business name availability in Michigan.
- Complete the change application: Obtain the trade name change application from the Michigan Secretary of State or the appropriate county office. Fill out the required information, including the current and new trade names you wish to use.
- Submit the change application: Submit the completed change application to the Michigan Secretary of State or the appropriate county office. Be prepared to pay the change fee, which may vary depending on the submission method or the county where you change your DBA name.
- Receive confirmation: Once your trade name change has been processed and approved, you will receive confirmation from the Michigan Secretary of State or the county office. Keep this documentation for your records and update all relevant business materials with the new trade name.
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Navigating obtaining, renewing, or changing a DBA name in Michigan is essential to managing your business’s identity and growth. Following the outlined steps and adhering to state regulations ensures your business remains compliant and continues to thrive. Remember, a well-chosen trade name reflects your brand identity and helps you connect with your target audience more effectively. As your business evolves, it’s crucial to stay adaptable and responsive to the ever-changing market conditions, and having a suitable DBA name is a significant part of that journey.
So, embrace the opportunity to create a professional and friendly image for your business, and let your DBA name be the catalyst for success. Visit LLCBase today to access valuable resources and guidance tailored to your business needs.