How to Get a Mississippi Fictitious Name
A Mississippi DBA, also called a fictitious name, allows your business to operate under a name that isn't its legal business name. With a DBA, you can establish your brand and maintain a professional image by advertising or opening a business bank account under that name. Mississippi businesses--including sole proprietorships, general partnerships, LLCs, and corporations--can register a DBA by filing a Fictitious Business Name Registration form ($25) with the secretary of state’s office. Here’s what you need to know.
Your Mississippi DBA Guide:
What is a Mississippi DBA (Fictitious Name)?
A DBA, or “doing business as” name, is like a pseudonym for your business. You can use a DBA in place of your legal business name on your storefront, website, marketing materials, and so on. DBAs are referred to as trade or assumed names in other states, but in Mississippi, they’re called fictitious names.
What’s unique about DBA registration in Mississippi?
- Registration not required: DBA registration is “voluntary” in Mississippi. The main goal of registration is to enable the public to find the legal names of businesses operating under fictitious names (Miss. Code Ann. § 75-93-3).
- Fictitious names aren’t exclusive: The state statutes note that filing a DBA doesn’t grant a business the exclusive rights to that name (Miss. Code. § 75-93-7). Any number of businesses can register the same fictitious name. In fact, the secretary of state’s office will not refuse any fictitious name application on the basis that the name is same as registered legal business name, fictitious name, or trademarked name. However, the state recommends you consult an attorney before registering a name that is already a trademark or legal business entity name.
Despite the fact that registering a fictitious business name in Mississippi is optional and doesn’t give you the exclusive right to use the name, the Mississippi Secretary of State’s Summary of the Fictitious Business Name Registration Act recommends that businesses register for the following reasons:
- To notify other businesses that the name is already in use. This can help prevent other businesses from registering the same DBA or one that is confusingly similar to yours.
- To protect your name in case a trademark dispute occurs between you and another business. Having your DBA registered can strengthen your claim that you began using the name prior to the other business.
- To open a business bank account or apply for a loan under your DBA. Your bank may require proof that your DBA is registered with the state as an anti-fraud measure.
Why Get a DBA in Mississippi?
Some popular reasons for getting a DBA in Mississippi are:
You’re a sole proprietor
You’re a sole proprietor if you’re the only owner of your business and your business isn’t registered with the state. Since there’s no legal separation between you and your business, your business’s legal name is your full name. To operate under a more descriptive or professional name, you may opt to use a DBA. That way, you can do business as “Pampered Pup Mobile Dog Grooming” instead of Miles Gardner.
To market your business
DBAs are popular marketing tools. Sole proprietors, for example, can use their DBA to enhance their credibility. Using a DBA can also give a business the flexibility to start a new product line without having to form a new business or to rebrand when company values or messaging has changed. Common ways to use a DBA for marketing include:
- On websites and social media accounts
- On signs, business cards, and other marketing materials
- In commercials and advertisements
- On merchandise
Additionally, if you decide to do business under your domain name—for example, “Shampoodles.com” instead of “Pampered Pup Mobile Dog Grooming”—you can also register your domain name as a DBA.
Tip: Registering a Mississippi fictitious 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 Mississippi Fictitious Name
To register your Mississippi DBA, you must file a Fictitious Business Name Registration form. Here’s the process.
The secretary of state’s office won’t reject a fictitious name application because the name is the same as another business’s registered fictitious name, legal business name, or trademarked name.
However, there are strong reasons to use a name that isn’t already registered to another business. First, doing so may help you avoid possible legal challenges. And second, a distinctive name will help to prevent customers from confusing your business with another because of a similar name.
You can use the following tools to check if a name is taken:
According to Mississippi state statute Miss. Code Ann. § 75-93-25, your fictitious name cannot contain:
- Any business entity identifier such as “LLC,” “Inc,” or “Ltd” unless the identifier applies to your business—i.e., you can’t use “Corp” as part of your DBA unless your business is a corporation.
- Any descriptors like “business trust” or “professional association” that don’t actually apply to your business.
- Words that cannot be used in any business name without consent from a government agency. For example, words like “bank” or “insurance.”
When filling out your Fictitious Business Name Registration form, you’ll need to list the following information:
- Your Business ID (if you own a registered entity like an LLC or corporation)
- Your legal business name
- The applicant’s legal name, address, and email (your own information if you’re sole proprietor; an owner’s information if your business has more than one owner)
- Your entity type
- The state your business was organized in
- Your fictitious business name
- Your NAICS Code
- Your business’s street address(es)
- Applicant signature
The form also contains a statement verifying that the applicant acknowledges that filing for a fictitious name does not grant a business exclusive rights to that name.
Mississippi requires that all business documents be filed online.
There are two ways to do this:
- Complete the fillable Fictitious Business Name Registration form and pay the fee when directed.
- Create or sign into your account with the secretary of state’s online Business Services portal. Once you’re logged in, you can access the application.
The filing fee is $25.
How to Renew a Fictitious Name in Mississippi
Fictitious name registration lasts 5 years. Your registration must be renewed by December 31st of the year in which your fifth registration anniversary occurs. So, for example, if you register in 2023, you must renew before December 31st, 2028.
A fillable renewal form is not available, but you can renew your DBA by logging into the Mississippi Business Services portal.
Can I amend or cancel a Mississippi DBA?
Yes. You can amend or withdraw your fictitious name by logging into the Business Services portal. You can also use the following fillable forms:
Like registration, filing an amendment or withdrawing your DBA costs $25.
Filing a DBA vs Starting a Business
Even though filing a DBA may seem like starting a business, it’s quite different. Using a DBA doesn’t create a new business or change the structure of your current business. For example, if you’re a sole proprietor before using a DBA, you’re still a sole proprietor after—a DBA is only a name.
Because a DBA is only a name, legal and government transactions must be completed using your legal business name. For example, you must file taxes with your legal name. And when signing contracts, you must provide both your legal and fictitious names for transparency and to ensure that your contract will stand up in court.
So, how do you start a business in Mississippi? There are two ways:
- Sell a product or service. To start an unregistered business like a sole proprietorship or general partnership, all you need to do is make a sale. So, if you get paid for building a website for your mom’s accountant or sell some handmade jewelry on Etsy, you’re in business. (Keep in mind that depending on state laws and the type of work you do, you may need to get a business license.)
- Register your business with the state. When forming a business entity such as an LLC or corporation, you must submit formation paperwork to the Mississippi Secretary of State’s office. In addition to filing your articles of organization or incorporation, you’ll need to pay a filing fee.
DBA vs LLC in Mississippi
The difference between a DBA and an LLC is that an LLC is a legal business entity. The owners (also called members) of a Mississippi LLC are considered legally separate from their business, which provides them with liability protection. Liability protection means that owners’ personal assets (savings, property, vehicles) are safe if the business is sued or owes debts. Only the business’s assets are at risk of being seized.
Unfortunately, a DBA doesn’t offer business owners any type of legal protection. Sole proprietors who get DBAs sometimes believe that getting a DBA will create a legal separation between themselves and their business, but it doesn’t. The best way to get liability protection is to start an LLC.
Does a Mississippi DBA keep my personal information off the public record?
Nope. One purpose of DBA registration is that it allows consumers to find out who they’re giving their money to. On your DBA application, you’ll have to list name and address information for your business and at least one owner. This could include your home address if you work from a home office or don’t have a PO Box.
To limit the amount of personal information you put on state documents, you can hire a Mississippi registered agent (like Northwest). Your registered agent can then list their information instead of yours wherever it’s possible, which can help increase your privacy.
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Mississippi DBA FAQs
How much does it cost to register a DBA in Mississippi?
It costs $25 to register a DBA in Mississippi.
Is registering a DBA required in Mississippi?
No, registering your DBA is not required. However, registering informs other businesses that you are using the name, which can prevent them from deciding to use the same DBA.
How long does DBA registration last in Mississippi?
DBA registration in Mississippi lasts 5 years. You need to renew your DBA online by December 31st of the fifth year after you register.
How many DBAs can I register in Mississippi?
There’s no limit on the number of fictitious names you can register in Mississippi, but you must file and pay for each one separately.
Do I need a separate bank account for my DBA?
No. You don’t see a separate bank account for your DBA because it’s not a business on its own. However, getting a bank account for work done under your DBA can help you get your finances straight.
Do I need a separate EIN for my DBA?
Nope. Since your DBA isn’t a separate business, you don’t need a new EIN. Businesses that must get EINs from the IRS include multi-member LLCs, corporations, and businesses with employees.
Can I cancel my DBA name in Mississippi?
Yes, you can cancel your DBA by filing a Fictitious Business Name Withdrawal form ($25) online.
Can I sign contracts with my DBA?
You should sign contracts with both your legal and DBA name. This will ensure that the contract will hold up in court and that the relationship between your business and DBA is clear.
What is my legal business name?
Your business’s legal business name is the name listed on your business’s government documents— I.e., 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.