How to Change a Business Name in Wisconsin 2024: Ultimate Guide

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How to Change a Business Name in Wisconsin

Welcome to our all-in-one guide on renaming your business in Wisconsin (also known as The Badger State)! We know that a name change can impact your operations, brand, and customers. We aim to make this transition as smooth as possible, offering expert advice and guidance throughout the process.

Get ready to dive in as we explore the necessary steps for a successful business name change in Wisconsin. We’ll cover everything from selecting a new name to updating crucial documents and registrations, ensuring your Wisconsin LLC remains compliant and thriving. At LLCBase, we’re here to support you every step of the way in this exciting journey towards a fresh business identity in Wisconsin!

What is a Business Name

A business name, or trade name, is the official and unique title under which a company conducts its operations and represents itself to the public. It is essential to a company’s identity in branding, marketing, and communications. A well-chosen business name distinguishes a business from its competitors and conveys its values, mission, and services or products offered to customers.

A business name represents your company’s identity and is crucial for all branding and marketing initiatives. However, entrepreneurs often feel the need to change their business’s name at some point.

Top Reasons for Changing a Business Name

  1. Rebranding: One of the most common reasons for changing a business name is rebranding. As businesses evolve over time, their initial name may no longer reflect the current products, services, or target audience. A new name can help create a refreshed identity and better communicate the business’s direction.
  2. Expansion: Another reason for changing a business name is geographical or market expansion. If your company name was initially tied to a specific location or target market, a change might be necessary to reflect the new areas you’re targeting.
  3. Mergers and Acquisitions: Adopting a new name representing both entities’ strengths may be beneficial if your business merges with or acquires another company.
  4. Legal Issues: Trademark disputes or potential infringement can also lead to a business name change. If you’re facing legal challenges over your company’s name, rebranding might be a wise choice to avoid further issues.
  5. Negative Associations: Suppose your business has faced negative press or unfavorable associations with its current name. In that case, a name change can help distance the company from past issues and signal a fresh start.

Change a Business Name: A 4-Step Guide

Let’s discuss the various steps and procedures involved in changing your business name effectively:

Step 1: Choose Your New Business Name

Selecting a new name is the first step in changing your business name in Wisconsin. Many business owners file a DBA (Doing Business As) or a Fictitious Name before registering their business with the Secretary of State (SOS). They can then change this name when filing their business. To choose a new name and file a DBA, follow the steps below:

  1. Visit the Wisconsin Secretary of State to access the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions, where you can search for the desired name and confirm its availability. 
  2. Once you have found an available name, proceed with the DBA name filing in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin DBA filing method can be done through two methods, by mail and in person., which may include There is no online filing available or For filing offline in Wisconsin, you must send the accomplished DBA filing form to the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions, P.O. Box 7847, Madison, WI 53707-7847 or drop it off in person at 4822 Madison Yards Way, North Tower, Madison, WI 53705. options.
  3. Depending on the chosen filing method, you may need to submit a DBA application form and pay the associated $15. This fee may vary depending on your state and filing method.
  4. After successfully filing your DBA, keep track of the ten years, as you may need to renew your DBA registration periodically, depending on your state’s requirements.

By following these steps, you can ensure a smooth transition in changing your business name in Wisconsin while maintaining compliance with state regulations. Remember to update all relevant documents, licenses, and registrations with your new business name to avoid confusion and maintain a consistent brand identity.

We have curated a list of the best LLC services in Wisconsin to assist you with changing your business name. Feel free to browse their offerings!

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Wisconsin Requirements to Change a Business Name

Before proceeding with the next step, it is crucial to know the naming guidelines when choosing a new name for your business. These guidelines may vary based on the type of business structure. For example, if you start a Wisconsin LLC, the following rules must be observed when changing the name:

  • The name should be available for use
  • The name should not be in use by another business
  • The new name must include “LLC” if it is a limited liability company
  • The name should not be confused with a government entity
  • The name should be unique

Read the Wisconsin LLC name search article to learn more about LLC naming guidelines if you are forming an LLC.

Step 2: Prepare the Documents

Once you choose a new business name, prepare the necessary documents to file the Wisconsin Articles of Amendment. Gathering all the required information and double-checking for accuracy before the submission is essential. Along with the name change form, submit the following details:

  • Current business name: Provide the existing name of your business as it appears on your registration documents.
  • New business name: Clearly state the new name you have chosen for your business, ensuring that it complies with your state’s naming guidelines.
  • The entity number of the business: Include the unique identification number issued by the Wisconsin for your business. This number is often called the Secretary of State File Number or the Business Identification Number.
  • Board of Directors’ approval statement (for corporations): If your business is a corporation, provide a statement indicating that the Board of Directors has approved the name change. This statement should include the date of the meeting during which the decision was made and the signatures of the authorized representatives.
  • Information on shares (if applicable): For corporations, provide details on the number of authorized shares, the various classes of shares, and any changes to the share structure resulting from the name change.
  • Signatures of members (LLC) or Shareholders (Corporation): Obtain and include the signatures of all required parties, such as LLC members or corporate shareholders, to confirm their agreement to the name change.
  • Wisconsin Articles of Amendment filing fee: Include the appropriate filing fee of $40 in Wisconsin. This fee may vary depending on the state and the type of business entity.

Just like the first process of starting a business in Wisconsin, ensure that the details in the  Articles of Amendment are consistent with the initial filing documents. Inconsistencies may result in the cancellation of your registration or delays in processing the name change. By carefully preparing and reviewing your amendment documents, you can help ensure a smooth transition to your new business name in Wisconsin.

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Step 3: File the Wisconsin Articles of Amendment

After thoroughly preparing and reviewing all the necessary documents, proceed to file the Wisconsin Articles of Amendment for your Wisconsin LLC or an Amendment of Articles of Incorporation for corporations. Keep in mind the following steps to ensure a successful filing:

  1. Attach the name reservation form: Remember to include the name reservation form with the Amendment forms. This form typically confirms that you have reserved and have the right to use the new business name.
  2. Choose the appropriate filing method: You can file the Articles of Amendment online or by mail, depending on your state’s available options. Each method may have specific requirements or fees, so research your state’s guidelines to determine the best option for your business.
  3. Submit the  Articles of Amendment forms and fees: Complete the required amendments, providing accurate information and including all necessary signatures. Include the appropriate Wisconsin Articles of Amendment filing fee of  $40, which may vary depending on your state and business entity type.
  4. Keep track of processing times: Depending on your state and filing method, the processing time for your Amendment may vary. Monitor your filing status and be prepared to address any questions or concerns from the state agency.
  5. Obtain a confirmation or updated registration documents: Once your  Articles of Amendment has been processed and approved, you should receive a confirmation or updated registration documents reflecting the new business name. Keep these documents for your records and update any other relevant materials.

By diligently following these steps and adhering to your state’s requirements, you can successfully file the Wisconsin Articles of Amendment and transition to your new business name. Remember to update all related licenses, permits, and registrations to maintain compliance and prevent confusion.

Recommended: Time to make a change to your LLC? Opt for the help of an LLC Formation Service to take care of your Articles of Amendment with ease. Their experienced team ensures a fast and accurate process, allowing you to focus on what truly matters – your business. We recommend –

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Step 4: Update the New Business Name

Once you have successfully filed the Wisconsin Articles of Amendment, updating the new business name in various areas is crucial to maintain compliance, prevent confusion, and ensure a seamless transition.

We’ve also compiled a list of the best business attorneys in Wisconsin to support you in changing and updating your business name. Please take a moment to explore their services!

But if you decided to update the new business name yourself, consider the following updates that you need to do:

  • Legal documents: Update the Wisconsin statement of information, loan documents, active legal contracts, lease agreements, and any other relevant legal documents with your new business name.
  • City/local registration: If your city or local authorities require business registration, update your new business name with the appropriate departments, such as the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions, by submitting the necessary forms and fees.
  • Business Licenses: Contact the relevant departments to update your new name and obtain the necessary Wisconsin business licenses and permits for operating in Wisconsin.
  • Bank Accounts: Visit your bank or financial institution to update your business accounts, credit cards, and checks to reflect the new name, ensuring a smooth financial transition.
  • Internal Revenue Service (IRS): Amend your business name with the IRS by obtaining your EIN records or filing an updated Tax Exemption Certificate to maintain compliance and prevent confusion.
  • Other updates: If you have employees, amend your records with the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development and the employment development authority. Update any additional business permits, insurance policies, and legal documents as needed.
  • Marketing materials: Update your website, signage, business cards, merchandise, social media profiles, email signatures, and other places where your business name is displayed to maintain a consistent brand identity.

Updating your business name across all relevant areas ensures a smooth transition and minimizes any potential issues arising from the name change. This comprehensive approach will help maintain your business’s credibility and reputation while adapting to the new name in Wisconsin.

Considerations When Changing a Business Name

  1. Customer Recognition: When changing your business name, it’s essential to consider its impact on your existing customers’ recognition of your brand. Ideally, the new name should maintain some connection to the old one to retain customer loyalty and familiarity.
  2. Trademarks and Domain Name Availability: Before settling on a new name, ensure it is available for trademark registration and a corresponding domain name is available for your online presence.
  3. Costs and Time Investment: Changing a business name involves various costs, such as legal fees and marketing expenses. The process can be time-consuming, from notifying customers and suppliers to updating documentation and signage.
  4. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Impact: Changing your business name can impact your website’s SEO rankings. Building a strong online presence using your new name and updating all online content and backlinks will require extensive work.
  5. Notify Relevant Authorities: When changing your company’s name, ensure you notify the relevant local, state, and federal authorities, update your tax information, and obtain new business licenses and permits.

FAQs

What is the process for changing a business name in Wisconsin?
The process for changing a business name in Wisconsin involves filing articles of amendment with the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions.
Do I need to provide a reason for changing my business name in Wisconsin?
No, there is no requirement to provide a reason for changing your business name in Wisconsin.
Can I reserve a new business name before changing my current one in Wisconsin?
Yes, it is possible to reserve a new business name through the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions.
How long does it take to change a business name in Wisconsin?
The processing time for name change requests in Wisconsin can vary, but is typically no longer than seven business days.
What are some reasons why a business owner may want to change their business name in Wisconsin?
Some reasons could include a desire for rebranding, a change in ownership, or a shift in business focus.
What fees are associated with changing a business name in Wisconsin?
The fee for changing a business name in Wisconsin is $15.
Do I need to notify my customers of the name change if I have a Wisconsin-based business?
Yes, it is a good idea to notify customers of a business name change in Wisconsin to avoid confusion.
Can I change my business name multiple times in Wisconsin?
Yes, there are no limits on the number of times a Wisconsin-based business can change its name.
Can a sole proprietorship change its name in Wisconsin?
Yes, a sole proprietorship in Wisconsin can change its name.
Can a corporation change its name in Wisconsin?
Yes, a corporation in Wisconsin can change its name.
What types of entities can change their name in Wisconsin?
Wisconsin businesses such as corporations, LLCs, and partnerships can change their name.
What options are available for notifying the public of a business name change in Wisconsin?
Advertising the change in a local newspaper or online, sending notifications to customers and vendors are some options that are available.
Can a Wisconsin-based business change its name and type of entity at the same time?
Yes, a Wisconsin-based business can change its legal name and entity type simultaneously.
Can I change my business name to an already existing name in Wisconsin?
It is not recommended to change your business name to an already existing name in Wisconsin, as it may result in trademark infringement issues.
Do I need to provide an assumed name for my business when changing my name in Wisconsin?
No, an assumed name is not required when changing a business name in Wisconsin.
Can a foreign business operating in Wisconsin change its name?
Yes, a foreign business operating in Wisconsin can change its name.
Can a business owner file articles of amendment to change a business name in Wisconsin on their own?
Yes, business owners can file articles of amendment on their own, or they can seek the services of a professional.
What are the specific requirements for filing articles of amendment for a business name change in Wisconsin?
Business owners must file Form 501 with the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions to request a business name change.
Can I change a franchise business name in Wisconsin?
Franchise owners should consult their franchise agreement to see if there are any restrictions on changing the business name before filing articles of amendment with the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions.
Can a Wisconsin-based nonprofit organization change its name?
Yes, a nonprofit organization in Wisconsin can change its name.
Do I need to have a valid reason for changing my business name in Wisconsin?
No, there are no specific requirements for changing a business name in Wisconsin.
Can a Wisconsin business have multiple names?
Yes, a Wisconsin-based business can use multiple business names, but it generally must register assumed names with the state.
What happens to my existing contracts and agreements when I change my business name in Wisconsin?
When a business name is changed in Wisconsin, existing contracts and agreements will generally remain in place, but they will refer to the new business name.
Do I need to update my business registration when changing my name in Wisconsin?
Yes, your business registration must be updated with the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions when changing your name in Wisconsin.
How do I update my tax registrations when changing my business name in Wisconsin?
Business owners must contact the Wisconsin Department of Revenue to update tax registrations when changing a business name in Wisconsin.
Can I trademark my new business name after changing it in Wisconsin?
Business owners should work with a trademark attorney to determine if their new name can be trademarked in Wisconsin.
Will I need to update my business license after changing my business name in Wisconsin?
Business owners should check licensing requirements after changing their name in Wisconsin to determine if a new license is necessary.
How will potential customers find my business after changing my name in Wisconsin?
Business owners must ensure that all directories, websites, and digital platforms are updated with the new name to ensure potential customers can find them.
Can a business name change impact my credit score in Wisconsin?
A business name change is unlikely to impact a credit score in Wisconsin.
What is a trade name in Wisconsin?
A trade name, also known as a DBA (“doing business as”), is a name under which a business operates.
Can I use a trade name for my business instead of my legal name in Wisconsin?
Yes, you can use a trade name instead of your legal name for your business in Wisconsin as long as you register it with the state.
How do I change my business name in Wisconsin?
To change your business name in Wisconsin, you will need to file an amendment to your original formation documents with the Department of Financial Institutions.
Do I need to have an attorney to change my business name in Wisconsin?
No, you can change your business name in Wisconsin without hiring an attorney.
Is there a fee to change a business name in Wisconsin?
Yes, there is a fee to change your business name in Wisconsin. The current fee is $35.
Do I need to notify my customers if I change my business name in Wisconsin?
Yes, it’s a good idea to notify your customers of a name change so that they are aware of any changes to your business.
Will I need to get a new tax ID number if I change my business name in Wisconsin?
No, you will not need to get a new tax ID number if you change your business name in Wisconsin.
Do I need to register my new business name with the Secretary of State in Wisconsin?
No, you do not need to register your new name with the Secretary of State in Wisconsin.
Can I change my business name whenever I want in Wisconsin?
Yes, you can change your business name whenever you want in Wisconsin as long as you file the necessary documents with the state.
Will changing my business name affect my existing contracts in Wisconsin?
No, changing your business name in Wisconsin will not affect your existing contracts.
Do I need to get a new business license if I change my name in Wisconsin?
No, you do not need to get a new business license if you change your business name in Wisconsin.
How often can I change my business name in Wisconsin?
There are no limitations on how often you can change your business name in Wisconsin, but it is important to note that changing your name too often can be confusing to your customers.
Do I need to publish a notice of my name change in a Wisconsin newspaper?
No, there is no requirement to publish a notice of your name change in a Wisconsin newspaper.
Will I need to update my business name on all my legal documents if I change my name in Wisconsin?
Yes, you will need to update your business name on all your legal documents if you change your name in Wisconsin.
Can I change my business name online in Wisconsin?
Yes, you can change your business name online in Wisconsin through the state’s website.
Do I need to update my business name with the IRS if I change my business name in Wisconsin?
Yes, you will need to update your business name with the IRS if you change your business name in Wisconsin.
What is the difference between an LLC name change and an amendment in Wisconsin?
Both an LLC name change and an amendment involve changing the name of the business, but an amendment also involves making changes to other aspects of your LLC, like adding or removing members.
Is changing my business name a complicated process in Wisconsin?
Changing your business name in Wisconsin is a simple process as long as you file the necessary documents with the state and update your legal documents accordingly.
Do I need to register my new business name with any other state agencies in Wisconsin?
No, you do not need to register your new business name with any other state agencies in Wisconsin.
Can I change my business name to anything I want in Wisconsin?
Yes, you can change your business name to anything you want in Wisconsin as long as the name is not already in use by another business in the state.
Can I keep my old business name as a trade name in Wisconsin if I change my name?
Yes, you can keep your old business name as a trade name if you choose to change your name in Wisconsin.
Will I need to update my business name on my bank account if I change my name in Wisconsin?
Yes, you will need to update your business name on your bank account if you change your name in Wisconsin.
Can I change my business name without any legal consequences in Wisconsin?
Yes, you can change your business name without any legal consequences in Wisconsin as long as you follow the correct procedures with the state.
How do I check whether a business name is available for use in Wisconsin?
You can check whether a business name is available for use in Wisconsin by searching the state’s online database.
Will I need to update my business name on my website if I change my name in Wisconsin?
Yes, you will need to update your business name on your website if you change your name in Wisconsin.
What happens if I don’t change my business name after a trademark dispute in Wisconsin?
If you don’t change your business name after a trademark dispute in Wisconsin, you may face legal action from the owner of the trademarked name.
How do I know if I need to change my business name in Wisconsin?
You may need to change your business name in Wisconsin if you are rebranding your business or if your name is too similar to another business already operating in the state.
Do I need to change my business name on my social media pages if I change my name in Wisconsin?
Yes, you will need to change your business name on your social media pages if you change your name in Wisconsin.

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Conclusion

Changing your business name in Wisconsin is a significant decision that requires careful planning and attention to detail. By following the steps outlined in this guide and diligently updating your business name across all relevant areas, you can ensure a seamless transition while maintaining compliance with state regulations and preserving your brand’s reputation.

We invite you to visit LLCBase for more helpful resources and guidance on navigating the complexities of running a successful business in Wisconsin. Let’s make your business an enduring success story in Wisconsin!

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