How to Get a Trade Name in Delaware
A Delaware DBA is any name a Delaware business uses other than its legal name. Delaware sole proprietorships, general partnerships, LLCs, and corporations can use DBA to market their business, add a new business line, or open a business bank account. To register a DBA in Delaware, you’ll submit a Registration of Trade, Business, & Fictitious Name Certificate in every county where your business operates. Registering a DBA in Delaware costs $25 per county. We’ll walk you through the process.
Your Delaware DBA Guide:
What is a Delaware DBA?
DBA stands for a “doing business as.” Delaware refers to DBAs as trade names or fictitious names, but these terms mean the same thing. If you want your business to operate under a name different from its legal business name, you’ll need to register a DBA in every Delaware county where your business operates. It should be noted that while a DBA can be used for business, it is not a business itself. A DBA is just a name a business can use.
A Delaware DBA gives businesses the flexibility to add additional brand names or expand product lines without having to establish a new entity with the state. For businesses that have not registered with the state (sole proprietors and general partnerships), a DBA can allow them to better market their services by allowing them to use a creative business name instead of doing business under their own names.
Delaware DBA Registration
Why Register a Delaware DBA?
A DBA is not a requirement to do business in Delaware. In fact plenty of business owners do business using their legal business name. But if you want to operate under a name different from your legal business name, you’ll need to register a DBA.
Here are a few reasons why you may want a Delaware DBA:
You’re in business as a sole proprietor or general partnership. Without a DBA, sole proprietors are required to include the owner’s full name in their business name. For general partnerships (unless it’s stated in their partnership agreement), their legal name is the last names of the owners. This means that if don’t want your skydiving school called “Joe Smith Skydiving” or your taco truck to be called “Johnson and Riley Tacos,” you should consider registering a DBA in Delaware.
Your business is re-branding or launching a new product line. Filing for a DBA can make sense if your business decides to change its focus and expand services. For example, imagine Jen Smith starts a dog-sitting business. She also wants to offer dog training as a new service. Registering “Puppy Paws Dog Training” as her Delaware trade name will allow Jen to better market her business to potential customers. As a sole proprietor, Jen can continue her dog-sitting business under her own name, or she can register another trade name for that side of her business.
Tip: Registering a Delaware trade name doesn’t guarantee that another business won’t use it. For stronger legal rights to your name, you can apply to trademark your DBA name at the federal level. Here’s how to apply for a trademark.
How to Register a Trade Name in Delaware
In Delaware, you must register your trade name or DBA in each county where you do business. Luckily for you, Delaware only has three counties: Kent, New Castle, and Sussex. They all use the same form, called the Registration of Trade, Business, & Fictitious Name Certificate. It costs $25 per county. Here are the steps to filing your Delaware trade name.
Before attempting to register your trade name in Delaware, you’ll first need to make sure no other businesses are using your desired name. You’ll want to search for your potential trade name in the Delaware Trade, Business & Fictitious Name database to check its availability.
Along with making sure the name is available, you’ll also need to follow Delaware’s requirements for trade names:
- Do not use business identifiers like “LLC” or “Corp.” unless your business is this entity type.
- Do not include potentially misleading words like “bank” or “federal.”
To file your Registration of Trade, Business, & Fictitious Name Certificate with the county, you’ll need to provide your:
- Trade name
- Business address
- Phone number
- Parent company (if applicable)
- Names of all owners, members, or partners
- Date you started doing business
- A brief description of your business activity
Note: Your application must be notarized, and the information you list will be made public on the Delaware name search database.
When you’re ready to file your trade name application in Delaware, you’ll submit the Registration of Trade, Business, & Fictitious Name Certificate and a check or money order of $25 per county. You can submit a paper form to:
Kent County Courthouse
38 The Green
Dover, DE 19901
Leonard L. Williams Justice Center
500 North King Street, Suite 500, LL1
Wilmington, DE 19801-3746
Sussex County Courthouse
1 The Circle, Suite 2
Georgetown, DE 19947
If you’re submitting your Registration of Trade, Business, & Fictitious Name Certificate for DBA registration in multiple counties, you’ll need to submit a form for each county and pay $25 each (total of $75 if registering in all three counties). If you want to register multiple DBAs, you’ll need to file a separate application for each one.
In Delaware, your trade name lasts until you terminate it by filing the Termination of Trade, Business & Fictitious Name form, which has no fee. To update or change your trade name(s), you’ll file the Registration of Trade, Business & Fictitious Name Supplemental Certificate form for $25.
Filing a Delaware DBA vs. Starting a Business
A business is an organization that sells goods or services to customers. A Delaware DBA is just a name attached to a business, and not a business on its own. Filing a Delaware DBA for your business allows your business to operate under a name different from its legal name.
Because filing a DBA doesn’t create a separate business entity, there are limits to what you can do with your trade name. For example, contracts signed only with your DBA aren’t likely to hold up in court–you need to sign with your legal business name. To properly identify your business in contracts, you should include both your legal and DBA name (DBAs are typically listed alongside your legal name and labeled with “d/b/a/”). Additionally, you must continue to pay taxes under your legal business name.
There are two ways to start a business in Delaware:
Sell something: All you need to do to be in business is to sell a product or service to someone else. Whether you’re baking pastries to sell door-to-door or mowing lawns at $30 a pop, you’re in business. If you’re making sales by yourself, you’re a sole proprietor. If you have a partner or partners, you’re involved in a general partnership.
Register your business with the state: If you want to form a Delaware LLC, corporation, nonprofit, or other state-registered entity, you’ll need to file paperwork with the state and pay state filing fees.
Delaware DBA vs. Delaware LLC
A Delaware LLC is a business entity registered with Delaware’s Secretary of State. A Delaware LLC creates legal separation between you and your business. If your LLC is sued, your personal assets are protected and only the LLC’s assets are up for grabs. To form an LLC you’ll need to register it with the state.
If you want liability protection, you’ll need to form a separate entity (like an LLC). We can help you form your Delaware LLC and maintain it for years to come.
Protect Your Assets With a Delaware LLCGet Started Today!
Delaware DBA FAQs
Is a DBA required in Delaware?
Using a trade name in Delaware is not required, but if you want to use a DBA or trade name in Delaware, you’re required to register it with the counties where you do business.
How do I get a DBA in Delaware?
Delaware DBAs are registered at the county level. To get a DBA in the county where your business operates, you’ll submit the Registration of Trade, Business, & Fictitious Name Certificate to the county (or counties) where you plan on doing business.
How much does it cost to get a DBA in Delaware?
$25 per DBA per county.
How long does it take to get a Delaware DBA?
Delaware’s average processing time for trade names is 4-5 weeks from the time the county receives the form.
Do I need to renew my Delaware DBA?
No. Delaware DBAs last forever.
Can I change or cancel my DBA in Delaware?
You can. Delaware allows you to file the Registration of Trade, Business & Fictitious Name Supplemental Certificate form for $25 to update a trade name registered with the county. You’ll cancel your Delaware DBA by filing a Termination of Trade, Business & Fictitious Name form. There is no fee for canceling your DBA in Delaware.
Do I need a separate bank account for my DBA?
No. Since your trade name is not a separate entity from your business, you can use the same bank account you use for your regular business transactions. There is, however, no rule against opening a separate bank account for your DBA if you deem it necessary for your finances.
Here’s how to open a bank account with a DBA.
Do I need a separate EIN for my DBA?
No. EINs are for business entities and not business names. Multi-member LLCs, corporations, and businesses with employees all need to get an EIN. But if your business already has an EIN and you register a DBA, you don’t need a separate or new EIN.
How many DBAs can I have in Delaware?
There is no limit to the number of DBAs you can have in Delaware. Just remember, each DBA in each county where your business operates will cost $25.
Can I sign contracts with my DBA?
Yes and no. Contracts signed with your DBA alone won’t hold up in court. However, you should list your DBA alongside your legal business name on contracts so that your business and name you’re operating under are clearly identified.
Can I buy a domain name under my DBA?
It depends. Buying a domain name under your DBA is permitted by some domain registrars, but not by others. If you are concerned about buying a specific domain name using your legal business name, you’ll need to find a registrar that will allow you to make the purchase under a DBA.
What is my business’s legal name?
The legal name of your business is the name that you put on state and federal documents, particularly tax filings. For LLCs, corporations, and non-profits, your legal business name is the name that appears on state formation documents. If you’re a sole proprietor, your legal business name is your name. The legal business name for general partnerships is either the partners’ last names or a name the partnership gave itself in its written partnership agreement.
How can I keep my personal information off the public record?
By hiring a Delaware registered agent to form your LLC, the registered agent will list their information on your filings instead of yours when applicable. For example, Northwest lists our name and address on the public record, shielding your personal information from the public in Delaware.