Q: Can you file a DBA for my LLC in Virginia?
Thank you to a client from Virginia for that question! Yes, setting up DBA (doing business as) names for LLCs and other companies is one of many services Northwest provides. We can help your LLC get a DBA it can use in the place of its official name, but only if we’ve been hired to serve as your registered agent. In this short guide, we’ll tell you about DBA names in Virginia, and how to get one through our services—and if you decide you’d rather do it yourself, we’ll show you how to do that, too. Read on for more.
What is a Virginia DBA?
DBA names are a common tool used by businesses across the United States—but in Virginia, they’re more commonly referred to as “fictitious names.” A fictitious name allows your Virginia business to operate under any name that differs from the legal name you chose when filing your formation paperwork. In order to use a fictitious name in Virginia, it must first be registered with the Clerk’s Office of the State Corporation Commission.
Your company can sell products, maintain a new location, advertise and generally operate as normal under a fictitious name, all without having to change its legal name or go to the trouble of forming a separate business. That said, your business will still need to file all its taxes under its legal name.
Does My Business Need a Fictitious Name?
While there are many reasons why a company might want to do business under a different name, most use a fictitious name to obscure an owner’s legal name or to expand or rebrand their business.
- Concealing an owner’s name: In a sole proprietorship or general partnership, owners must use their full names as the legal name of their business. However, you might want to keep your personal name relatively private or use a business name with more marketability. In those cases, your only options are to register your business as an LLC or corporation—or, for far less money and work, register a fictitious name.
- Expanding and rebranding: If your business is taking off, or if a new opportunity presents itself, a fictitious name might help you establish a different identity for that aspect of the business. If Alexander Automotive, LLC starts selling ATVs and motorcycles, a fictitious name for Macedonia Motorsports could assist in rebranding for a different sector of the market.
Get a Virginia Fictitious Name with Northwest
Currently, Northwest only offers fictitious name filings for Virginia clients with existing registered agent service through Northwest—we don’t offer standalone DBA filing service right now. However, once you sign up for our Virginia registered agent service, our customer service representatives would be happy to set up your fictitious name for your LLC, corporation or general partnership. You need a registered agent anyway to accept legal notice on behalf of your business. Northwest can handle that for you, plus so much more.
The process is simple:
- Sign up for our Virginia Registered Agent service.
- Contact your customer service representative about DBA/Fictitious Name filings.
- Give us the fictitious name you want to use.
- Confirm you want us to file your company’s fictitious name with the Virginia State Corporation Commission.
- Pay our $110 fee ($100 plus the state’s filing fee).
Within 2-3 business days, you’ll receive notice that your Certificate of Assumed or Fictitious Name has been filed. Congratulations, you’re ready to operate your business under its new name!
Rather handle filing your company’s fictitious name registration yourself? Read on.
Registering Your Own Fictitious Name in Virginia
The process for getting a fictitious name in Virginia varies slightly, depending on whether you’re a sole proprietor or own a business with a different type of structure.
- Sole proprietors must file a Certificate of Assumed or Fictitious Name – Business Conducted by an Individual with the State Corporation Commission. You must include the following information: the name of the person conducting business under the fictitious name, the fictitious name itself, and the physical address of your office or residence, along with a dated signature and contact information.
- All other types of businesses—general partnerships, LLCs, corporations, etc.—need to file a Certificate of Assumed or Fictitious Name – Business Conducted by an Entity. This form requires the name of the entity assuming the fictitious name, the name it will be using, type of￼ legal or commercial entity, the state or jurisdiction where the entity was formed, and either the company’s registered State Corporation Commission ID number or the physical address of the entity’s principal place of business. This form can be signed by someone involved with the company’s management or by a representative of another business entity signing on the behalf of the business getting the fictitious name.
Both forms can be filed online through the State Corporation Commission Clerk’s Information System, by mail, or in person.
Office of the Clerk
P.O. Box 1197
Richmond, Virginia 23218
Office of the Clerk
1300 E. Main St.
Richmond, VA 23219
Both forms also carry the same fee, $10.
Are there rules for fictitious names in Virginia?
Unlike regular business names, fictitious names have few requirements. The only major restriction is on misrepresenting the business’s location or place of origin. There is no requirement to put a designator like Corp. or LLC in the name—or even any requirement that the name be unique.
Can someone else file my fictitious name?
Virginia’s State Corporation Commission does not claim the authority to decide the legal right to use a fictitious name, so it is possible for multiple entities to register the same name. To safeguard a name, you might consider filing a trademark or speaking to an attorney.
What happens if I don’t register my fictitious name?
Doing business under an unregistered fictitious name is a misdemeanor in Virginia. You could face a fine of up to $2,500, up to a year of jail time, or both. Your company will also lose the right to begin and maintain court proceedings on its behalf until your fictitious name is registered.
What if I no longer want to use my fictitious name in Virginia?
If you no longer want to do business in Virginia under your company’s fictitious name, you can file a Certificate of Release of Assumed or Fictitious Name to release the name. The associated fee is $10.