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How to File a DBA in New Jersey

Q: I had an inquiry about DBAs—I would like to set up an LLC, and I know that I would like a DBA. What does the cost and process look like for getting a DBA [in New Jersey]?

Thank you to business owner and songwriter Desiree Jaha (@desireejaha) for that great question! A DBA (doing business as) name is any name that a business uses other than the legal name of the business or the owner. A New Jersey DBA is called an “alternate name” or a “trade name,” depending on the type of business entity using it. We’ll walk you through the specifics of why you might want to register a DBA and the process for doing so in New Jersey.

What is the difference between an “alternate name” and a “trade name” in New Jersey?

New Jersey has two different kinds of DBAs: alternate names and trade names. An alternate name is a business name used by a registered business—like an LLC, limited partnership (LP), or corporation—that is different from the official name of the business. Alternate names must be registered with the NJ Division of Revenue and Enterprise Services.

A trade name is a business name used by a sole proprietorship or general partnership. In New Jersey, trade names must be registered with the county clerk in the county where your business is located.

Why would I need a DBA?

There are several reasons why you may need a DBA, including:

  • If you are a sole proprietor and want to use a business name other than your own legal name. Without a DBA/trade name, sole proprietors are required to use their own name for their business. So if you don’t want your landscaping business to be called “Mike Jones,” you’ll need to register a trade name.
  • To branch out into a new industry. For example, if you have a clothing design company called Amethyst Fashions, Inc., you might file a DBA for “Amethyst Designs and Furnishings” when your business expands into home goods.
  • To shorten a long name. If saying “Danielle Johnson’s Infant and Toddler Childcare Center, LLC” all the time feels like a bit of a mouthful, you might want to get a DBA and simply call the business “Danielle’s Daycare.”

Do you need to file your DBA in New Jersey?

Yes. In New Jersey, you’re required to file an alternate name or trade name (depending on your business type) before using it. If you don’t register your DBA, you will be charged a retroactive fee for every year the name was in use.

How do you file a DBA in New Jersey?

The process for filing a DBA in New Jersey is different depending on whether you’re filing an alternate name (for LLCs, LPs, and corporations) or a trade name (for sole proprietorships and general partnerships).

Filing an alternate name for LLCs, LPs, and corporations

LLCs, LPs, and corporations can register an alternate name by filing Form C-150G with the NJ Division of Revenue and Enterprise Services online, by mail, or in person. The filing fee is $50. Alternate names need to be renewed every five years.

Filing a trade name for sole proprietorships and general partnerships

Sole proprietorships and general partnerships must file their trade name with their local county clerk. Each county will have its own form and filing fee for registering a trade name. You can find your county clerk’s name and address on the Constitutional Officers Association of New Jersey website.

What are the rules for choosing a DBA name in New Jersey?

Your DBA name must be unique and not already in use by another New Jersey business. To see if your name is available, you can use New Jersey’s business name availability search.

New Jersey law prohibits you from using certain “restricted words” in a business name, including for alternate names and trade names. To use a restricted word, you’d need to get additional authorization and file additional paperwork. New Jersey’s restricted words include:

  • “Bank”
  • “Blind”
  • “Cemetery”
  • “D.C.”
  • “District of Columbia”
  • “Funeral Homes”
  • “Handicapped”
  • “Little League”
  • “Mail”
  • “Metropolitan”
  • “Olympia”
  • “Olympic”
  • “Postal”
  • “Realtor”
  • “Trust”
  • “Underwriters”
  • “United States Olympic Committee”
  • “Urban Renewal”

Want to learn more? Check out the Northwest Guide on How to Get a DBA for your Business.

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