How to Get a Guam Fictitious Name
A Guam DBA (also called a Guam fictitious name) is any name your business operates under that isn’t its legal business name. Guam sole proprietors, general partnerships, LLCs, and corporations can use DBAs for activities like opening a business bank account and creating advertising materials. You can register a Guam DBA with the Department of Revenue and Taxation (DRT) by filing a Certificate of Transacting Business Under a Fictitious Name, which costs $25. Let’s review the process.
Your Guam DBA Guide:
What is a Guam DBA (Fictitious Name)?
Basically, a Guam DBA is an alternate name for your business. For example, your legal business name may be “Jasper Dollman Professional Voice Therapy LLC,” but you may conduct business under the DBA “Dream Voice.” In Guam, a DBA—which stands for “doing business as”—is officially called a fictitious name. DBAs are also known as trade or assumed names in other places.
Guam law requires anyone doing business under a DBA to register the DBA name with the DRT (GCA § 26101). If you do not register your fictitious name, your business will not be permitted to take any legal action against any individual or business until you file (GCA § 26103).
However, you won’t need to register a DBA if the name you’re using includes the names of all business owners. For example, if you’re a sole proprietor named Gwen Cruz, you can operate under “Cruz Tours” without registering a DBA.
Why Register a Fictitious Name in Guam?
Here are some reasons to register a DBA:
You’re a Guam sole proprietor
A sole proprietorship is an unregistered business owned by one person. Legally, there’s no separation between a sole proprietor and their business, so the legal name of a sole proprietorship is the business owner’s full name. However, many sole proprietors don’t want to do business under their own name, so they adopt a DBA. With a DBA, a sole proprietor can use a more professional or descriptive name, like “Rebel Tattoo” instead of “Meredith Adai.”
To market your business
If you’re expanding or rebranding your business, you can register a DBA instead of starting a whole new business. As an example, you might have started out as a drywalling and painting business only, but now you’ve expanded into general renovations. You can start doing business under the DBA “Complete Reno” instead of your legal business name, Tana Drywall LLC.
Popular ways to use a DBA to market your brand include:
- On websites and social media accounts
- On signs, business cards, and other marketing materials
- In commercials and advertisements
- On merchandise
- To open a business bank account (Note: some banks will require proof of DBA registration)
- To make and receive payments
You want to do business under your domain name. If you buy a domain name that you use to advertise or generally do business under, you’ll need to register that name as a DBA. An example of this is if, as “Cruz Tours,” you buy cruisewithcruz.com and then market your business exclusively under that name. In this case, your domain name functions as a DBA.
Note: Registering your fictitious name in Guam only grants you the right to that name within Guam and doesn’t guarantee another business won’t use it in another state or US territory. You can apply to trademark your DBA name at the federal level for stronger legal rights to your name.
How to Register a DBA in Guam
If you want to register a fictitious name in Guam, you’ll need to file a Certificate of Transacting Business Under a Fictitious Name with the Department of Revenue and Taxation. Fictitious name registrations never need to be renewed. However, if your business’s ownership changes, you’ll need to submit a new certificate with updated ownership information. We’ll walk you through the process.
You cannot use a name already being used by another business. This includes both registered business names and fictitious names. To find out if your desired name is available, you’ll need to contact the Business Licensing Branch of the Department of Revenue and Taxation.
Additionally, you can use the US Patent and Trademark Office Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) to discover if your desired DBA has been trademarked at the federal level.
When filing a Certificate of Transacting Business Under a Fictitious Name, you must include the following information:
- Applicant name (individual or business entity)
- Applicant mailing and business addresses
- Proposed DBA name
- Signature of the business owner(s)
Your certificate must be notarized before you file.
After completing and notarizing your certificate, you must file it with the Department of Revenue and Taxation. No online filing option is available, but you can submit your application in person or by mail.
1240 Army Drive
Barrigada, Guam 96913
Dept. of Revenue & Taxation
Taxpayer Services Division
PO Box 23607
Barrigada, Guam 96921
The filing fee is $25.
How to Cancel a Guam Fictitious Name
To cancel your Guam DBA, you’ll need to file a Certificate of Abandonment of Fictitious Name with the Department of Revenue and Taxation.
The certificate must include the name(s) and address(es) of the registrant(s), the fictitious name you are abandoning, and business owner signatures. Like your registration certificate, your abandonment certificate must be notarized. There is no fee to file.
Filing a DBA vs Starting a Business
If you’re embarking on a new business venture, you may be wondering about the difference between registering a DBA and starting a business. Registering a DBA doesn’t actually create a new business. It just provides an existing business with an alias.
Because it’s not a separate legal entity, you must use your legal business name on government and legal documents. For example, you need to file taxes and sign contracts with your legal name. In fact, for transparency, you should sign contracts with both your legal and DBA names.
How do you start a business in Guam? You can take one of two actions:
- Sell something. To establish an unregistered business like a sole proprietorship or general partnership, the only thing you need to do is sell a product or service. After that, you’re officially in business (though you may still need a Guam business license).
- Register your business with the state. To create a business entity like an LLC or corporation, you must file formation documents (for example, articles of organization for an LLC) with the Guam Department of Revenue and Taxation and pay a filing fee.
DBA vs LLC in Guam
Unlike a DBA, a Guam LLC is a business entity that is legally separate from its owners. In contrast to informal businesses like sole proprietorships, LLCs offer liability protection. If an LLC is sued or owes debts, only the assets of the business are put at risk of seizure. The owners’ personal assets—savings accounts, property, vehicles—are considered off-limits.
An LLC always offers liability protection, and using a DBA doesn’t supply a business with any additional protection. Unregistered businesses remain without liability protection after registering a DBA. If your business doesn’t currently have liability protection, the easiest way to get it is to form an LLC. (You can always register a DBA for your LLC.)
Guam DBA FAQs
How much does it cost to get a DBA in Guam?
The fictitious name filing fee is $25.
How long does it take to get a Guam DBA?
If you submit your application in person, your name should be registered on the same day. If you mail in your certificate, allow more time for processing and mailing time
Is registering a DBA required in Guam?
Yes. According to Guam law, all businesses must register any fictitious name they use.
Do I need a separate bank account for my DBA?
Nope. Because a DBA isn’t a business on its own, you don’t need a separate bank account. However, you can always set up an additional bank account for your DBA if you want to help keep your finances organized for tax or accounting purposes.
Do I need a separate EIN for my DBA?
No. You do not need a separate EIN for your DBA.
How long does fictitious name registration last in Guam?
Once your fictitious name is registered, it’s good for as long as you want to use it—no renewal is required.
Can I change or update my trade name in Guam?
You can update business owner information by filing a new certificate. You can also contact the Department of Revenue and Taxation for advice on your specific case.
How many DBAs can I register in Guam?
You can register as many fictitious names as you would like in Guam.
Can I cancel my fictitious name in Guam?
Yes. You can file a Certificate of Abandonment with the Department of Revenue and Taxation to cancel your DBA. There’s no cost to file
Can I sign contracts with my DBA?
Because a DBA isn’t a business on its own, any contracts signed solely with your DBA might not hold up in court. You should list your DBA alongside your legal business name on contracts so that your business is clearly identified to whoever you’re contracting with.
Can I buy a domain name with my DBA?
Whether or not you can buy a domain name with your DBA depends on your registrar. Some registrars will allow you purchase a domain under your DBA but some will require you to use your business’s legal name.
What is my legal business name?
The name listed on your business’s government documents, such as state filings, tax filings, and so on, is your legal business name.
For formal business entities like LLCs, corporations, and nonprofits, the business’s legal name is listed on its formation documents, including the company’s business entity identifier (“Company Name, LLC,” “Company Name, Inc.,” etc.).
For sole proprietors, the business’s legal name is the owner’s legal name.
For general partnerships, the business’s legal name is the partners’ last names or a name the partnership gave itself and documented in a written partnership agreement.