How to Get a Maine Assumed Name
If you want to conduct business in Maine under a name that isn’t your legal business name, you’ll need a Maine DBA (also called an assumed name). Maine sole proprietorships, general partnerships, LLCs, and corporations can use a DBA to cement their brand identity and market their business using a more memorable or professional name. In Maine, registered business entities like LLCs and corporations file DBAs with the Maine Bureau of Corporations, Elections & Commissions, while unregistered businesses like sole proprietorships register with their local city or town clerk's office. Let's get started.
Your Maine DBA Guide:
What is a Maine DBA (Assumed Name)?
A DBA (“doing business as”) name acts like an alias for your business, allowing you to operate under a name other than your legal business name. While any business can use a DBA, they are especially useful for sole proprietors and for businesses that want to expand or add a new business line without having to form a whole new business.
In Maine, DBAs for domestic businesses are called trade or assumed names, but DBAs for foreign businesses (businesses not formed in Maine) are known as fictitious names. We’ll focus on DBA registration for domestic businesses.
What’s unique about DBA registration in Maine?
- Registration required: DBA registration is required by state law and must be completed before your business starts using its DBA.
- State- and city-level registration: The DBA registration process in Maine varies by business type. Business entities like LLCs and corporations register with the secretary of state. Informal business structures like sole proprietorships and general partnerships must file with their city or town government.
- No renewal required: Maine DBA registrations are perpetual, meaning that they don’t need to be renewed.
Why Register a DBA in Maine?
Here are some of the most common reasons to get a DBA in Maine:
You’re a sole proprietor
As a sole proprietor, there’s no legal separation between you and your business, so your legal business name is your own name. In Maine, sole proprietors must get a DBA to operate under any name that isn’t their own name (31 MRSA §2). So, if you’re Billie Rose and want to do business under “Safe & Sound Taxi,” or even “Billie Rose Taxi,” you’d need to register a DBA.
To expand or rebrand your business
Using a DBA is a great way to rebrand or add a new business line without having to form a whole new business. A DBA helps you build and maintain your business’s public image.
Some common ways to use a DBA 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
- To make and receive payments
Additionally, you can register your domain name as a DBA, if you want to use your domain as your business name. For example, if your legal business name is Beagle Hotel & Spa, LLC but everyone knows your business by its domain name, iheartbeagles.com, you can register “iheartbeagles.com” as a DBA.
Tip: Registering a Maine assumed 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 Maine Assumed Name
While business entities like LLCs and corporations must file DBAs with the Maine Bureau of Corporations, Elections & Commissions, sole proprietorships and general partnerships must file with the clerk’s office in the city or town where their business is located. However, the DBA registration process is similar across the board. Here’s what you’ll need to do:
Check name availability
In Maine, you can’t file a DBA name that is already registered to another business either as a legal business name or as an assumed name. You also can’t register a name that is trademarked at the state or federal level.
You can use the following databases to search name availability:
- Maine Corporate Name Search (includes legal business, assumed, and trademarked names)
- US Patent and Trademark Office Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) (federal trademarks)
Sole proprietorships and general partnerships can use a name that another sole proprietor or partnership has registered. However, if you want to make sure that you’re not using the same DBA as another business in your city, you can contact your local city or town clerk’s office to access DBA name records.
Follow Maine DBA naming rules
Your DBA must adhere to general Maine business naming rules (13-C MRSA §401(3)).
Your name cannot:
- Contain obscene language
- Promote unlawful activity
- Falsely suggest that your business is associated with a government agency
Additionally, Maine law regarding assumed names specifically states that an assumed name cannot contain a business entity identifier like “Inc” or “LLC” unless that identifier applies to your business (31 MRSA §5). For example, you only include “LLC” in your assumed name if your business is an LLC.
LLCs, LPs, LLPs, corporations, and nonprofits
The Maine Bureau of Corporations, Elections & Commissions has a separate DBA application for each business type. These forms are used to register assumed names for domestic entities and to register fictitious names for foreign entities. Make sure that you indicate on your form that you are applying for an assumed name.
LLCs: Statement of Intention to Transact Business Under an Assumed Name (LLC)
Corporations: Statement of Intention to Transact Business Under an Assumed Name (Corporations)
Nonprofits: Statement of Intention to Carry On Activities Under an Assumed Name
Limited Partnerships: Statement of Intention to Do Business Under an Assumed Name (LP)
Limited Liability Partnerships: Statement of Intention to Transact Business Under an Assumed Name (LLP)
On your form, you must include the following:
- Your legal business name
- The addresses where your DBA will be used, if you have more than one location and will only be using the name at some locations
- Contact information, including your business addresses
Filing costs $125. You can also get expedited filing: an additional $50 for 24-hour processing and $100 for immediate processing (in person).
You can submit your statement by mail or in person; online filing isn’t offered.
In-person or by mail using USPS:
Department of the Secretary of State
Corporations, Elections, and Comissions
101 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333
By mail using FedEx or UPS:
Department of the Secretary of State
Corporations, Elections, and Comissions
111 Sewell Street, 4th Floor
Augusta, ME 04330
Sole proprietorships and general partnerships
Each city in Maine provides its own resources for filing a DBA as a sole proprietorship or general partnership.
For example, if your business is located in the City of Portland, you’ll be able to submit a Certificate of Sole Proprietor or Certificate of Association for the Purpose of Engaging in Mercantile Enterprise (for general partnerships).
In some cities, you may be required to write your own certificate. If so, you’ll need to include the following (31 MRSA §1-2):
- Business owner(s) names and addresses
- Your DBA name
- A description of the nature of your business (general partnership)
- A statement that you are a sole proprietor
Your certificate must be notarized.
The filing fee is $10, but you may also need to pay a credit card processing fee in some cities if paying by card.
Some cities will require to you to visit to the city clerk’s office ot register your DBA. For example, in Bangor and Lewiston, you must fill out a form in person at the city clerk’s office. For full details on how to file a DBA in your city or town, contact your clerk’s office directly. You can find the addresses and phone numbers for all city and town clerks using the Bureau of Corporations, Elections & Commissions’ Listing of Municipal Clerks & Registrars.
Can I cancel my DBA?
Yes, you can cancel a DBA in Maine by filing a termination or withdrawal statement with the Bureau of Corporations, Elections & Commissions or with your city clerk.
As with registration, the Bureau has a separate form for each business type, all of which can be found on the Corporations section of its website. The fee to cancel a DBA is $20.
For city-level filings, you may need to draft your own statement. One example is South Portland’s Certificate of Withdrawal from Mercantile Enterprise. Contact your clerk for specific details.
Filing a DBA vs Starting a Business
Filing a DBA is sometimes confused with starting a business, but it’s actually quite different. A DBA doesn’t create a new business or change the structure of your existing business. All it does is allow your business to use an alternative name. For example, a sole proprietor operating under a DBA is still a sole proprietor.
And, because getting a DBA doesn’t form a new business entity, you must continue to perform legal or government activities like filing taxes and signing contracts with your legal business name. When it comes to contracts, you’ll actually need to list both your legal and DBA name so that your business is properly identified to anyone you’re contracting with.
If you want to start a business in Maine, you need to take one of two actions:
- Sell a product or service. Getting an unregistered business like a sole proprietorship or general partnership is easy. Just sell a tutoring session or a crochet potholder on Etsy, and you’re in business. (Depending on your line of work, you may still need to get a business license.)
- Register your business with the state. Forming a business entity like an LLC or corporation requires a little more work. You’ll need to submit formation paperwork (Articles of Organization or Incorporation) to the Maine Bureau of Corporations, Elections & Commissions and pay a filing fee.
DBA vs LLC in Maine
While a DBA is only a name, a Maine LLC is a legal business entity that offers its owners liability protection. If an LLC is sued or owes debts, the LLC owner’s personal assets (savings, property, vehicles) will not be seized to cover the business’s debts or legal obligations.
A DBA doesn’t provide business owners with any such protections. If you’re a sole proprietor with a DBA, your assets aren’t protected. One of the best ways to get liability protection is to form an LLC.
Does a Maine DBA keep my personal information off the public record?
Unfortunately, no. DBA registration helps consumers figure out who they’re doing business with. Depending on how you file, you must include your business name and possibly other business information on your DBA application. If you’re a sole proprietor or member of a general partnership and you work out of a home office, you may also need to include your home address.
If you want to limit the amount of personal information that you provide on government documents, one thing you can do is hire a Maine registered agent like Northwest. As your registered agent, we can help protect your privacy by listing our information in place of yours wherever it’s possible on state documents.
Protect Your Assets with an Maine LLCGet Started Today!
Maine DBA FAQs
How much does it cost to register a DBA in Maine?
It costs $125 to register a DBA with the Bureau of Corporations, Elections & Commissions as a registered business entity like an LLC or corporation. At the city level, the filing fee for sole proprietors and general partnerships is $10.
Is registering a DBA required in Maine?
Yes. Maine state law requires all businesses to register any DBA they use.
Do I need a separate bank account for my DBA?
Nope. You won’t need a separate bank account because a DBA isn’t a separate business. But you may want to get a bank account for business done under your DBA to help keep your finances organized.
Do I need a separate EIN for my DBA?
No. A DBA isn’t a separate business, and it doesn’t change your business structure, so you don’t need to get a new EIN. Businesses that the IRS requires to get an EIN include multi-member LLCs, corporations, and all businesses with employees.
How long does DBA registration last in Maine?
Maine DBAs don’t expire, so your DBA will last until you cancel it or stop doing business.
How many DBAs can I register in Maine?
In Maine, you can register any and all DBAs you’d like to do business under. However, you will need to file and pay for each DBA separately.
Can I cancel my DBA name in Maine?
Yes. You can cancel a DBA by submitting a termination or withdrawal statement with either the Bureau of Corporations, Elections & Commissions or your city clerk, depending on your type of business and how you registered.
Can I sign contracts with my DBA?
Unfortunately, no. Since DBA isn’t a legal business entity, you must use your legal business name to sign contracts. Otherwise, those contracts might not stand up in court. You should list your DBA alongside your legal business name on contracts for transparency.
Can I buy a domain name under my DBA?
It depends. If your domain registrar allows it, you can buy a domain name under your DBA. If not, you’ll need to make your purchase using your legal business name.
What is my legal business name?
Your business’s legal business name is the name you use on your business’s government documents—for example, on state and tax filings.
For formal business entities like LLCs, corporations, and nonprofits, a business’s legal name is the name listed on its formation documents, including the company’s entity identifier (“Company Name, LLC,” “Company Name, Inc.,” etc.).
For sole proprietors, a business’s legal name is its owner’s legal name.
For general partnerships, a business’s legal name is either the partners’ last names or a name the partnership has given itself in a written partnership agreement.