New Jersey DBA
How to Get an Alternate or Trade Name in New Jersey
A New Jersey DBA is any name a business uses that isn’t its legal name. In New Jersey, there are two types of DBAs you can register: an alternate name and a trade name. New Jersey alternate names are exclusive to formal businesses like LLCs and corporations. Trade names are for New Jersey sole proprietors and general partnerships. Any type of business—New Jersey sole proprietors, general partnership, LLCs, corporations, etc.—can use a DBA to market their business or add new brands. Here’s what you need to know.
Your New Jersey DBA Guide:
What is a New Jersey DBA?
A DBA (“doing business as”) allows you to use a nickname for your business instead of using your legal business name. New Jersey has two different kinds of DBAs: alternate names and trade names. We explain the differences:
- Alternate Name: Name used by a registered business—like an LLC, limited partnership (LP), or corporation—that is different from the legal name of the business. Alternate names must be registered with the New Jersey Division of Revenue & Enterprise Services.
- Trade Name: Used by a sole proprietorship or general partnership, New Jersey trade names must be registered in each county where your business operates.
While both types of DBAs have different names, they accomplish the same goal: letting a business register a name that isn’t its legal business name. DBAs can be used on:
- Websites and social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram, etc…)
- Advertising (billboards, print media, radio, television, etc…)
- Business cards, company letterhead and merchandise
- A business bank account
- Vendor checks and point-of-sale systems
A DBA is just another name your business can use, and not a business itself. Registering a DBA in New Jersey does not change your actual business. It simply gives the business a nickname. This means you’ll still file taxes under your legal business name and existing EIN (or SSN for most sole proprietors).
Can I sign a business contract with my DBA?
Not by itself, no. A DBA is just a name, not a legal entity. You’ll need to use the legal name of your business when drawing up and signingbusiness contracts. In an effort to be transparent, you’ll also want to let the other person or business know that your business uses a DBA.For example, a sole proprietor using a DBA would sign a contract “Juan Lopez, DBA Dog Walkers R Us.”
Why Register a New Jersey DBA?
There are lots of reasons to use a DBA in New Jersey. Here are a few of the most popular:
You’re a New Jersey Sole Proprietor
If you’re the sole owner of your business, you’re a sole proprietor. This means that your full name is your legal business name (ex: Albert Walsh). If you want to operate your business using a more professional, descriptive name, you’ll need to get a DBA.
You Want a Different Name for Your Business
If an LLC or corporation has a legal business name that no longer describes the services or products offered, a DBA allows them to get a new name without having to register a brand new business or file state paperwork to amend the business name.
You Use Your Domain Name as Your Business Name
Doing business under your domain name will require you to register a DBA if your domain name is different from your legal business name. For example, if “Best New Jersey Tutors, LLC” has a domain name, “jerseytutors.com,” and uses that domain name to advertise as “Jersey Tutors,” you’re going to need to register that name as a DBA.
You Want to Add New Brands to Your Business
With a DBA, you can create a new brand or offer a new service without actually starting a whole new business. For example, “Baja Bros Tacos, LLC” might want to add a food truck to cater weddings and other events. By registering a DBA as “Tacos on Wheels,” they can keep the name and brand of their Baja Bros business but add a food truck brand with its own name and unique marketing opportunities.
Will a DBA keep my personal information off the public record?
No. Registering a New Jersey DBA requires you to list the name and address of the person or business entity applying. All of that information will go on public record, easily searched by anyone who knows how to work a computer. Your best option, if you want to live privately, is to hire a New Jersey registered agentand to form an LLC. At Northwest, we work hard to minimize the exposure of your personal information. If we can put our address on a public document instead of yours, we’lldo it!
How to Register a DBA in New Jersey
How you register yourDBA in New Jerseydepends on the type of entity that is filing. Sole proprietors and general partnerships register DBAs (trade names) in eachcounty where they do business. LLCs and corporations file DBAs (alternate names) with the state, as will foreign entities that were formed outside of New Jersey. Either way, you’ll need to make sure the name you want is available and that it follows state naming laws. Let’s go over the steps required to register your New Jersey DBA.
New Jersey doesn’t allow businesses to register a business name that has already been registered by a formal entity. Sole proprietorships and general partnerships also can’t register a trade name that has been registered in the same county. However, two different businesses could use the same trade name as long as they were registered in different counties.
State-level filers can use New Jersey’s Business Name Availability Search to see if any other formal business is using their desired name in the state. If the name you enter isn’t available, the system will flag it and let you know. For instance, if you type in Pete’s Pizza, you’ll be alerted to another business using a similar name.
All business types will want to use New Jersey’s Trade Name and Trade/Service Mark Status Report to see if their preferred trade name is in use in the county where they conduct business. Sole proprietors and general partnerships will also want to check with their county clerk’s office to see if they have a searchable database. Some counties have an online trade name search, others may require you to come in and search their trade name records manually.
In general your DBA name can’t:
- Be the same as or similar to other registered business names in the state.
- Use words that could confuse customers into thinking your business offers a service it isn’t authorized to perform (ex: “bank,” “university,” “insurance,” “police.”).
- Contain the word “corporation”, “Inc.”, “limited”, “limited liability company”, “LLC,” or any abbreviation of an entity identifier unless the business is that type of entity.
LLCs and corporations register their alternate name with New Jersey’s Division of Revenue & Enterprise Services by filling out a Registration of Alternate Name form online. The information you’ll need to successfully complete registration includes:
- Type of business entity (check appropriate box).
- Name of the business.
- 10-digit ID number that was assigned to your business when it registered with the state.
- State where business was originally formed.
- Date of formation (date of authorization for foreign entities).
- Alternate business name.
- Business activity to be conducted under the alternate name (ex: air conditioning repair).
- If the alternate name was previously used, enter the month and year it was first used.
- Name of signer, title of signer, signature, and date. (Note: Corporate registrations must be signed by either the corporate president, vice president, or chairman of the board. Limited partnership registrations must be signed by a general partner. All other business types just need an authorized person to sign.)
Alternate name registrations cost $50 (add $2.50 for credit card fee) and can be filed online, by mail, or in person. It takes about 1-3 business days for New Jersey’s Division of Revenue to notify online and in person filers that their alternate name has been accepted. Mailed filings generally take longer.
NJ Division of Revenue
P.O. Box 308
Trenton, NJ 08646
NJ Division of Revenue
33 West State Street, 5th Fl.
Trenton, NJ 08608
Registration for Sole Proprietors and General Partnerships
Sole proprietors and general partnerships file their Trade Name Certificate in each county where the business operates. County clerk information can be found on the Constitutional Officers Association of New Jersey website. Filing fees vary by county, but expect to pay at least $50.For example, Monmouth County charges $54 to register a trade name while Cumberland County charges $50.
The basic information you’ll need in order to successfully register your trade name is:
- Legal name of the business
- Trade name being registered
- Business address and phone number
- Nature of the business (ex: plumber)
- Name, address, and signature of all members of the business
- Notary or attorney signature and stamp
Trade name certificates need to besigned by all business owners, as well as a notary public or lawyer. Notary fees vary, but generally won’t cost more than $10. If you want to save money on a notary, call your county clerk’s office to see if they’ll notarize your certificate there. Some clerks offer it as a free or reduced cost service.
Note: Some counties, like Monmouth, only allow in person filings, and request that all business owners be present with ID in order to successfully register. To be on the safe side you’ll want to contact your clerk’s office and ask them about signature requirements.
How long will it take to get my trade name approved?
Approval times vary by locality. Counties that require in person filings often process your trade name the same day. If your county allows filings by mail, you should plan to wait at least two weeks before your trade name application has been processed. Either way, once registered, you will receive a stamped copy of your trade name certificate for your records.
Registering a DBA vs. Starting a Business in New Jersey
Registering a DBA isn’t the same thing as starting a business in New Jersey. A DBA is just an alternate name for a business. It’s not a business in itself. Starting a business involves either selling a product or service or formally registering your business with the state. Here’s what that looks like:
Selling a product or service: If you work for yourself and haven’t formally organized your business as an LLC, corporation, or other entity, then you’re a sole proprietor. If you have a business partner (or multiple), you’re in a general partnership. Both are popular with business owners because there are fewer hoops to jump through compared to formal entities like LLC or corporations.
Register your business with the state: If you want to create a formal business entity like an LLC or corporation, you’ll need to file registration documents with New Jersey’s Department of State. It costs $125 to register an LLC or corporation in New Jersey.
DBA vs. LLC in New Jersey
While both DBAs and LLCs are filed at the state level, LLCs are legal entities that create distinct legal separation between their owners (members) and the business. A New Jersey LLC can protect the personalassets of the owners, like your personal savings, car, or home, from being seized to satisfy a lawsuit or bankruptcy. A DBA doesn’t provide any legal protection. It’s just an alternate name for your business.
If you only want a nickname for your businessor a name for your new product line, then a DBA makes sense. However, if you’re a sole proprietor and want to protect your personal assets, you need to form a separate business entity with liability protection, like an LLC. Northwest can help you get one.
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New Jersey DBA FAQs
Is registering a DBA required in New Jersey?
Yes. New Jersey requires any business that uses a name different from its legal name to register that name with the state or county where the business operates.
How much does it cost to get a DBA in New Jersey?
That depends. LLCs and corporations pay $50 (add a $2.50 credit card fee) to file with the state. Sole proprietors and general partnerships, who register at the county-level, will typically pay around $50, but some counties tack on added DBA processing fees.
How long does it take to get a New Jersey DBA?
State processing for online filers takes about 3 business days. Mailed filings will take longer. County filings are generally processed in two weeks if filed by mail, or the same day if filed in person.However, filing times vary by county, so it’s best to contact your county clerk’s office and ask them.
Do I need to renew my New Jersey DBA?
That depends. Trade names do not need to be renewed with the county. Once you have your trade name, it’s yours until you withdraw it. Alternate names registered at the state level need to be renewed every five years.
Alternate name renewals are registered by filing a Renewal of Registration of Alternate Name form online, by mail, in person, or by fax. Renewals cost $25 for corporations and $50 for LLCs, non-profits, and limited partnerships. You’ll need to file two copies of the renewal form, and three for non-profits.
Can I cancel my New Jersey DBA?
Yes. Formal entities that filed with the state will need to file a Certificate of Termination of Corporate Alternate Name form. It costs $75 to cancel an alternate name. You’ll need to file two copies (three for non-profits). You can file online, by mail, in person, or by fax.
Do I need to open separate bank account for my DBA?
A DBA is not a separate legal entity (like an LLC or a corporation), so there’s no need for a dedicated DBA bank account. However, if you use multiple DBAs, you might find that opening a separate bank account helps to keep your business finances organized.
Do I need a separate EIN for my DBA?
No. A DBA is just a name for doing business, not a new entity. But if you have a multi-member LLC, corporation, or any other business with employees, you will need to get an EIN from the IRS.
How many DBAs can I have in New Jersey?
New Jersey has no limit to the number of DBAs a business can have.
What is my legal business name?
Your legal business name is the one that appears on the business’s government documents (state filings, tax filings, etc.).
- Sole proprietor: your legal business name is your full name.
- General partnership: your legal business name must contain the surnames of all owners. Some states allow general partnerships to create a legal business name of their own choosing as long as that name is set forth in a written partnership agreement.
- LLC, corporation, or other registered business entity: your business’s legal name is listed on the formation documents you filed with the state, usually including an entity identifier such as “LLC” or “Inc.”