How to Get a DBA Name in Michigan | A Step-By-Step Guide

Steve Bennett
Business Formation Expert  |   Fact Checked by Editorial Team
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Get a DBA Name in Michigan

Have you ever wondered how to get a DBA for your Limited Liability Company? If you have, then you are on the right page. Doing Business As (DBA) names, also known as trade names, fictitious names, or assumed names, are an essential aspect of businesses in Michigan. A DBA name allows companies to operate under a name different from their legal business name since it is important for branding, marketing, and legal purposes. In this article, we will provide a comprehensive guide to getting a DBA name in Michigan.

Through thorough research and market study, Webinarcare Editorial Team will help you learn about the DBA name. It would be best to cross-check all the factors before obtaining one for your Michigan business.

What is a DBA Name?

A DBA (Doing Business As) name in Michigan is a name under which a business operates that is different from its legal name. It is also known as a trading, fictitious, or assumed name. A DBA name allows companies to start a limited liability company in Michigan, and market themselves under a separate name from their legal business name. Registering a DBA name in Michigan, provides businesses with branding, marketing, and legal benefits while also helping to prevent other businesses from using the same or a similar name within the state.

Example of a DBA

A DBA (Doing Business As) example can be illustrated through a fictional scenario involving a sole proprietor named John Smith. Let’s say John owns a bakery business and wants to operate it under a different name rather than using his name.

Legal Business Name: John Smith (sole proprietor)

DBA Name: Sweet Treats Bakery

In this case, John would register “Sweet Treats Bakery” as his DBA name. By doing so, he can legally conduct his bakery business using the name “Sweet Treats Bakery” for branding, marketing, and legal purposes, instead of using his name, John Smith. This allows John to establish a professional identity for his bakery and distinguish it from other businesses.

If you start an LLC in Michigan, registering a DBA name is important when it comes to remembering your business. However, it is best to consult with a legal professional before you begin registering your DBA name. This is to ensure that your business name is available in Michigan.

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How to Get a DBA Name in Michigan

Starting a business in Michigan can be exciting and challenging. One crucial step in establishing your business’s identity is choosing and registering a Doing Business As (DBA) name. Here are the steps to get a DBA in Michigan.

Step 1: Choose a Unique and Appropriate Name

The first step in registering a DBA name is selecting a unique and appropriate name for your business. Your chosen name should be easy to remember and represent your business’s products or services. 

Consider the following tips when choosing a DBA name in Michigan:

  • Avoid using names too similar to existing businesses, as this may lead to confusion and potential legal issues.
  • Stay away from names that may be considered offensive or misleading.
  • Research Michigan naming requirements, as some have specific restrictions on what words and phrases can be included in a business name. 

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Step 2: Conduct a Name Search

Once you have chosen a suitable name for your business, conducting Michigan Business Name Search is essential to ensure the name is not already used. In Michigan, they have an online business name database that you can search, usually found on the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. Sometimes, you may also need to check with your local county clerk’s office to ensure the name is not already used at the county level.

If your chosen name is already in use, select a different name and repeat the search until you find an available name.

Step 3: Register the DBA Name

After confirming that your chosen name is available, the next step is registering your DBA name with the appropriate state or county agency. In Michigan, you will need to complete a DBA registration form, which can often be found on Michigan Secretary of State website. Michigan may require additional documentation, such as proof of business ownership or a business license in Michigan.

When filling out the registration form, provide accurate and complete information. Any errors or omissions may lead to delays in processing or even the rejection of your application.

Step 4: Pay the Registration Fee

A fee is typically associated with registering a DBA name. In Michigan, there are three methods, online, by mail, and in person filing. The cost of filing a DBA is $25 for LLCs and $10 for LPs. However, renewing your DBA every five years would be best. Sometimes, there may be separate fees for Michigan DBA registrations. Be prepared to pay these fees when submitting your registration form.

Step 5: Publish a Notice of Your New DBA Name

Michigan requires you to publish a notice of your new DBA name in a local newspaper. This step will inform the public of your intention to operate under a fictitious name. 

The notice must typically include your DBA name, legal business name, business address, and owner’s name. You may need to provide proof of publication to Michigan or the county agency responsible for DBA registrations.

Step 6: Obtain Any Necessary Permits or Licenses

Depending on your Michigan business’s nature and location, you may need additional permits or licenses to operate under your DBA name.

The permits and licenses required for your business will depend on your business’s nature, location, and local and state regulations. Here are some common types of permits and licenses that might be required when operating under a DBA:

  • Business License: A general business license may be required in Michigan to operate your business legally. This license ensures your business meets local zoning, safety, and regulatory requirements. In Michigan, the costs of obtaining a business license range from $50 – $300.
  • Sales Tax Permit: If your business sells taxable goods or services, you may need a Sales Tax Permit from Michigan Department of Treasury.
  • Professional Licenses: Depending on your business type, you may need specific professional licenses or certifications. For example, if you are operating a restaurant, you may need a food handler’s permit; if you offer professional services such as accounting or legal services, you may need a professional license from Michigan state board. DBA filing requires professional licenses if you operate under a General Partnership in Michigan
  • Health and Safety Permits: Businesses in certain industries, such as food service, may require health and safety permits to ensure compliance with state and local regulations.
  • Zoning Permits: Depending on your business location and the type of business you are operating, you may need a zoning permit from your local planning or zoning department.
  • Environmental Permits: If your business involves activities that could impact the environment, you may need permits from Michigan state or federal environmental agencies.

Step 7: Renew Your DBA Registration as Needed

In Michigan, you are required to renew your DBA registration periodically. This renewal process may involve completing a renewal form, paying a renewal fee, and sometimes republishing the notice of your DBA name. Stay up-to-date with your state’s renewal requirements to maintain your DBA name and avoid penalties.

Maintaining the DBA Name

Once your DBA name is registered and published, it is essential to maintain it to remain in good standing with Michigan. Here are some important aspects to consider:

  • Renewal or Expiration: Depending on Michigan’s regulations, your DBA name registration may expire or need to be renewed periodically. Keep track of these deadlines to avoid losing your DBA name.
  • Updating Business Information: If your business undergoes significant changes (such as a change in ownership or address), you may need to update your DBA name registration with the appropriate agency.
  • Canceling or Discontinuing the DBA Name: If you decide to stop using your DBA name or close your business, notify the appropriate agency and follow any required procedures for canceling or discontinuing the name.

Is a DBA in Michigan the same as a Trade Name?

Yes, in Michigan, a DBA (Doing Business As) is the same as a trading name. Both terms refer to a name under which a business operates differently from its legal name. A DBA or trade name allows companies to conduct business and market themselves using a different name from their legal business name. Other terms for DBA or trade name include fictitious name and assumed name. Registering a DBA or trade name in Michigan may vary depending on the type of business and the state’s specific regulations.

Do I need to register my Michigan DBA in the Internal Revenue Service?

No, you do not need to register your DBA (Doing Business As) name in Michigan with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The registration of a DBA is typically done at the state or local level, depending on the specific regulations of Michigan. The IRS is not involved in the DBA registration process.

However, once your DBA is registered in Michigan, you may need to obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) in Michigan from the IRS if your business has employees, operates as a corporation or partnership, or meets certain tax-filing requirements.

Do I need to file for a DBA if I already have Michigan Registered Business Name?

If you already have a registered business name in Michigan and you plan to conduct business using that exact name, you do not need to file for a DBA (Doing Business As). A DBA is required when a business wants to operate under a name different from its legal business name. 

However, you must file for a DBA if you have a registered business name and wish to conduct business under a different name. This applies to sole proprietorships, partnerships, limited liability companies (LLCs), and corporations that intend to use a name other than their legally registered name.

FAQs

What is a DBA?
DBA stands for “doing business as” and is a name that a business uses to operate under if it is different from the legal name of the business.
Is a DBA name required in Michigan?
No, a DBA name is not required in Michigan, but it can be beneficial for marketing, branding, and customer recognition.
Who needs a DBA name in Michigan?
Sole proprietors and partnerships who choose to operate under a name other than their personal name or legal business name may choose to use a DBA name.
What are the benefits of getting a DBA in Michigan?
A DBA can help a business establish a distinct brand and make it easier for customers and suppliers to identify the business and carry out transactions.
Where do I file for a DBA in Michigan?
The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) is responsible for processing DBA applications.
How do I file for a DBA in Michigan?
You can file online or by mail. Visit the LARA website for more information on how to file.
Can I use a DBA name before the filing process is complete in Michigan?
No, you cannot use a DBA name until you receive approval from LARA.
How long does it take to get a DBA name in Michigan?
It typically takes between one and three weeks to process a DBA application in Michigan.
How much does it cost to file for a DBA in Michigan?
The filing fee for a DBA in Michigan is $25.
Do I need to renew my DBA name in Michigan?
Yes, DBA names expire after five years and must be renewed with LARA.
Can a business have multiple DBA names in Michigan?
Yes, a business can have multiple DBA names but each requires its own separate registration with LARA.
Can I trademark my DBA name in Michigan?
Yes, you can apply for a trademark for your DBA name through the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
What should I consider when choosing a DBA name in Michigan?
It’s important to choose a name that is not already in use and will not infringe on any existing trademarks.
Can a DBA name be transferred in Michigan?
No, DBA names cannot be transferred to another person or business. A new application must be filed.
Can a DBA name be cancelled in Michigan?
Yes, DBA names can be cancelled by filing a cancellation form with LARA.
Can I operate a business under a different state’s DBA name in Michigan?
No, if you wish to use a DBA name in Michigan it must be registered with LARA.
Can I change my DBA name in Michigan?
Yes, a new application can be filed to update or change a DBA name with LARA.
Do I need to include any specific language in my DBA name?
No, there is no specific language required for a DBA name in Michigan, but it must be distinguishable from any existing names in the state of Michigan.
Can I use the same DBA as another business in a different state?
This depends on whether the other business has their DBA name registered with Michigan LARA. If they do not have it registered, then using the name would be allowed.
Can I operate in other states under my Michigan DBA name?
You can operate in other states under your Michigan DBA name, but you may need to register as a foreign entity in those states depending on local requirements.
Will getting a DBA name affect my taxes in Michigan?
No, getting a DBA name will have no impact on your business taxes in Michigan.
What happens if I don’t register a DBA name in Michigan?
If you operate under a name other than your legal business name without registering a DBA name, you may be subject to fines or legal action.
Is a DBA name the same as a business name in Michigan?
No, a DBA name is a name that a business operates under that is different from its legal business name.
Can I use a personal name as a DBA in Michigan?
Yes, personal names can be used as a DBA name as long as they are distinguishable from any existing names in the state of Michigan.
Can I use abbreviations in my DBA name in Michigan?
Yes, you can use abbreviations in your DBA name, but it must be distinguishable from any existing names in the state of Michigan.
Are there any restrictions on DBA names in Michigan?
Yes, DBA names cannot contain language that indicates it is a government entity or that it could be confused with one.
Do I need to publish my DBA name in Michigan?
No, there is no requirement to publish your DBA name in Michigan.
How do I know if my requested DBA name is available in Michigan?
You can search and find out if your requested name is available in the State of Michigan’s online database.
Can I register a DBA name for an existing business in Michigan?
Yes, a DBA name can be registered for an existing business in Michigan, as long as the name is distinguishable from any existing names in the state of Michigan.
What is a DBA name?
DBA stands for “doing business as”, it is a name registered by an individual or a business to operate under a different name other than their legal name.
Do I need a DBA name to conduct business in Michigan?
It depends on the type of business you run; some businesses require a DBA, while others don’t need it. A sole proprietorship or a partnership can use the owner’s names without the need for a DBA. Whereas a corporation or LLC needs to file a DBA name to do business under a different name.
How do I search the availability of a DBA name in Michigan?
You can search for the availability of your preferred DBA name by visiting the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) website.
How much does it cost to file a DBA name in Michigan?
The cost of filing for a DBA name in Michigan varies; it typically ranges from $10 to $25.
How long will it take to register a DBA name in Michigan?
After submitting your application, it takes around 10 business days to receive your DBA name registration in Michigan.
What needs to be included in a DBA name registration application?
The DBA name registration application typically requires the legal name of the business owner or the corporation/LLC, the chosen DBA name, and the mailing address.
Can a business change its DBA name in Michigan?
Yes, a business must file a new registration for its new DBA name to change its DBA in Michigan.
What is the validity of a DBA name registration in Michigan?
A DBA name registration in Michigan is valid for five years.
How do I renew my DBA name registration in Michigan?
You can renew your DBA name registration online through the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) or by submitting a paper application by mail.
Can I transfer my DBA name registration to someone else in Michigan?
No, DBA name registrations cannot be transferred to someone else in Michigan. The new owner must register a new DBA name for their business.
What happens if my DBA name registration expires in Michigan?
If your DBA name registration expires, you need to register for a new DBA name.
Do I need to file for a separate DBA name if I have multiple businesses in Michigan?
Yes, each business needs to have its individual DBA name registration, if they are operated separately under different entities.
Can I cancel my DBA name registration in Michigan?
Yes, you can cancel your DBA name registration by filling out a cancellation form and submitting it to the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA).
How do I update my business’s information on my DBA name registration in Michigan?
You can update your business’s information by submitting a change form to the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) or by doing it online on their website.
Do I need to publish my DBA name registration in Michigan?
No, you don’t need to publish your DBA name registration in Michigan.
What should I do if my business’s details have changed after filing my DBA name registration in Michigan?
You should submit a change form to the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) to update your business’s information.
Can I do business using my DBA name before registering it in Michigan?
No, you cannot use your DBA name for business transactions until it is registered with the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA).
What is the maximum length of a DBA name in Michigan?
The maximum length of a DBA name in Michigan is 35 characters, including spaces.
Is a DBA name registration a legal entity in Michigan?
No, a DBA name registration is not a legal entity in Michigan.
How do I file a DBA name registration for a foreign entity in Michigan?
If you are a foreign entity and wish to register a DBA name in Michigan, you need first to register as an entity in Michigan using the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) before filing a DBA registration.
Can I change the spelling of my DBA name after registration in Michigan?
No, you cannot change the name’s spelling or alter it after the registration in Michigan.
What is the consequence of conducting business under a DBA name without proper registration in Michigan?
In Michigan, conducting business under an unregistered DBA name can attract heavy fines or imprisonment.
Who issues a DBA name registration certificate in Michigan?
The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA), Corporations Division, issues the DBA name registration certificate.
Do I need to carry my DBA name registration certificate with me while doing business in Michigan?
No, you don’t need to carry your DBA name registration certificate with you; however, you must keep a copy of the certificate in your business records.
Can any name be used as a DBA name in Michigan?
No, not all names can be used as a DBA name. If the preferred name is identical to another business in Michigan or might cause confusion, then it would not be eligible.
How often can I renew my DBA name registration in Michigan?
You can renew your DBA name registration every five years in Michigan.
Can I use my DBA name in other states outside Michigan?
Yes, you can use your DBA name in other states as long as you comply with the respective requirements and procedures.
Can a DBA name registration be transferred from one state to another?
No, a DBA name registration cannot be transferred from one state to another. New registrations must be submitted for each state.

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Conclusion

Getting a DBA name in Michigan is crucial for many businesses, providing branding, marketing, and legal benefits. By following the steps outlined in this comprehensive guide, you can successfully register a DBA name in Michigan and enhance your business’s credibility and recognition in the market. Remember to stay up-to-date with Michigan’s rules and regulations surrounding DBA names, and maintain your registration to ensure your business remains compliant.

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