How to Get a Trade Name in Wyoming
A Wyoming DBA or trade name is any name a Wyoming business uses in place of its legal name. Trade names are commonly used by Wyoming sole proprietorships, general partnerships, LLCs, and other business types for branding and marketing purposes and opening business bank accounts. In such cases, the trade name becomes the company’s public face. You can register your trade name by submitting an Application for Registration of Trade Name to the Wyoming Secretary of State and paying the $100 state filing fee. Here’s how to get started.
Your Wyoming DBA Guide:
What is a Wyoming DBA (Trade Name)?
DBA is an acronym for “doing business as” and is a common term for transacting business under a name that differs from a business’s legal name (other common terms include “assumed name” and “fictitious name”). Wyoming usually uses the term “trade name” instead of DBA, but it amounts to the same thing.
DBAs exist because every business has a legal name, and yet that legal business name might not work well for every situation. If you’re a sole proprietor, for instance, your business’s legal name is your legal name (for example, “Carrie Brooks”) because there is no legal distinction between a sole proprietorship and its owner. DBAs are useful because they provide businesses of all kinds with more control over how they brand and market their products and services.
What’s unique about DBA registration in Wyoming?
There is no legal requirement to register a DBA in Wyoming in order to use one, but doing so can help protect your trade name. Every Wyoming business has the option to file a Wyoming DBA. This includes sole proprietors, general partnerships, limited liability companies (LLCs), limited partnerships (LPs), corporations, businesses with s-corp tax elections, and nonprofits – the whole shebang. Plus, there is no limit on the number of trade names you can register in Wyoming. In every case, the paperwork you’ll file with the state is the same, and you’ll pay the same $100 filing fee every time.
Why Register a DBA in Wyoming?
No one needs to register a DBA or trade name to do business in Wyoming. The state is fine with you choosing a unique trade name and using that name without registering it with the state. Wyoming is also 100% fine with you sticking with your business’s legal name and not using a trade name at all.
So, why use a trade name and shell out that extra $100 to make it official? The benefits to filing a Wyoming DBA typically come down to promoting your brand, protecting your brand, protecting your privacy, or opening a business bank account.
- Promoting Your Brand: Using a trade name means you can clearly identify what your business does for your customers and clients, or else operate under a catchy name people will remember.
- Protecting Your Brand: Registering your trade name means you can let the Wyoming business community know your trade name is in use and so discourage others from trying to use it.
- Protecting Your Privacy: If you’re operating as a Wyoming sole proprietorship or general partnership, your business’s legal name is your name (or yours and your partners’ names), so using a trade name allows you to let a different name – for example, Rainmaker Collections – to stand in for yours on a website, on marketing materials, and so on.
- Opening a Business Bank Account: Registering a DBA makes it easier for a sole proprietorship and general partnership to open a bank account, helping you keep your personal finances and business finances distinct.
Even for business entities officially formed through the state, like a Wyoming LLC or Wyoming corporation, using a DBA has its benefits. You can use a trade name to drop that cumbersome corporate identifier (“LLC,” “inc.,” etc.) in advertisements and even register multiple DBAs to create distinct brands that can live a public life of their own.
Tip: Registering a trade name doesn’t guarantee another businesses 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 Trade Name in Wyoming
To register a trade name in Wyoming, you’ll need to file an Application to Register a Trade Name with the Wyoming Secretary of State. But first, you’ll need to make sure your desired name is available and start using it. Here’s how.
Wyoming has a few rules for choosing a trade name. Your trade name must:
- Not use words that suggest your business is a bank or a school without special approval.
- Not use an identifier like “LLC” or “Inc.” unless your business is that entity type.
- Be unique among registered business names in Wyoming.
To find out if your name is available, search the Wyoming Secretary of State’s business database. Keep in mind that your trade name will be rejected if it’s too similar to another registered name, even if they’re not exactly the same. For example, trying to register the trade name Northwest Registered Agents would raise eyebrows (ours!) because there’s already an awesome company called Northwest Registered Agent, LLC operating in Wyoming. The names would be considered too similar, despite having some minor differences.
If your trade name is available but you’re not ready to register it, you can reserve your name for 120 days by filing an Application to Reserve a Trade Name with the Wyoming Secretary of State for $30.
In some states, you can’t legally use a business name unless you register it. In Wyoming, it’s the opposite—you can’t register a trade name until you’ve started using it. So once you’re sure it’s available, slap it on a business card or open a social media account using the name.
To fill out the Application to Register a Trade Name in Wyoming, you’ll need to provide the following information (and don’t forget—your form needs to be notarized!):
- Trade name
- Applicant name
- Business address
- Mailing address (optional)
- Whether the applicant is an individual or an entity (for example: an LLC)
- The state where you formed your business (if you did—sole proprietors and general partnerships can skip this line)
- The names and addresses of your partners or trustees (if you’re applying as a partnership or trust)
- A brief description of the kind of business you’ll do under your trade name (for example: “internet sales of cutlery”)
- The date you first used your trade name in Wyoming
- A signature and contact information of someone authorized to act on behalf of your business
This form will be scanned and uploaded to the Wyoming Secretary of State’s website, which means whatever information you list there will go on the public record.
Once you fill out the form, you need to submit it to the Wyoming Secretary of State, along with either a check or money order for $100. There’s no option for online filing—you’ll need to send it in the mail to:
Wyoming Secretary of State
Herschler Building East, Suite 101
122 W 25th St
Cheyenne, WY 82002-0020
How to Renew a Wyoming DBA
Wyoming trade names must be renewed every 10 years. To do so, you’ll need to submit an Application for Renewal of Trade Name Registration to the Wyoming Secretary of State. The secretary of state’s office will notify you of your trade name’s impending expiration six months before its expiration date, and you can file your renewal application any time within those six months. If you’re someone who likes to plan ahead, know that you cannot file for renewal before that six-month mark.
On your application, you’ll need to include your trade name, business address, business type, and the general nature of your business. You, another owner of your business, or someone like an attorney or registered agent will also need to sign the form. Unlike your initial registration application, your renewal application doesn’t need to be notarized. Renewal filing costs $50 and takes up to 15 business days to process.
Can I cancel my trade name in Wyoming?
Yes, you cancel your Wyoming trade name by filing a Cancellation of Trade Name form, which costs $10 to file. You must include your trade name, the name of the registrant, and the registrant’s signature on your cancellation form. Notarization is not required. Once your cancellation form has been received, it should be processed within 15 business days.
Filing a DBA vs. Starting a Business
Registering a Wyoming DBA or trade name is sometimes confused with starting a business in Wyoming, but a DBA is really just a different name you’re using for an existing business. If you’re already operating as a sole proprietor in Wyoming, you’re still a sole proprietor after you register your trade name with the state. Ditto for Wyoming general partnerships, LLCs, corporations, nonprofit corporations, and so on.
Since a DBA isn’t a separate business entity, you’ll have to use your legal business name on government and legal documents. Contracts should signed with both your legal and DBA names to properly identify your business, and your taxes should be filed under your legal name.
To start a business in Wyoming, you’ll go through a separate processing entirely, and there are two ways to do it:
- Form your business with the state. This is how Wyoming business owners create limited liability companies (LLCs), corporations, and nonprofit corporations, and it requires submitting a formation documents to the state and paying the state filing fee.
- Just start selling something. Apart from obtaining any required local or state licenses to do business, the simple act of selling some product or service is enough to create your business in Wyoming and any US state. If you’re the sole owner of the business, you’re automatically a sole proprietor. If you have one or more partners, you’re a general partnership. It’s that simple.
Wyoming Trade Name vs. Wyoming LLC
However, you can’t protect your personal assets by filing a Wyoming DBA. A DBA is just a name and introduces no liability protections that aren’t already provided for by your business structure. If you’re a sole proprietor operating under a trade name, you’re still on the hook personally for your business’s debts, and if someone sues your business, they’re suing you.
This is one of the main reasons entrepreneurs create formal business entities like LLCs and corporations. Doing so creates a separate corporate entity with its own legal status, such that the business can have its own debts and assets, enter into contracts, sue and be sued, and it shields the company’s owners from personal liability so long as the business is properly maintained.
If you’re a small business that wants that liability protection, forming a Wyoming LLC is probably the way to go. A Wyoming LLC is fairly easy to start and maintain, and Wyoming LLCs are famous for private protection. We can help you do it.
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Wyoming DBA FAQs
Is a DBA required in Wyoming?
No. In Wyoming, you’re not required to register a DBA/trade name. In fact, you need to start using a trade name before you can even register it. That means you can start using a trade name on a website, business cards, invoices, or wherever else at any time.
How do I get a DBA in Wyoming?
To get a DBA in Wyoming, you’ll need to file an Application for Registration of Trade Name with the office of the Wyoming Secretary of State.
How much does it cost to get a DBA in Wyoming?
$100. This is Wyoming’s state filing fee for the Application for Registration of a Trade Name form.
How long does it take to get a WY DBA?
It takes around 15 days for the Wyoming Secretary of State to process your DBA application. You’ll want to add on time to account for the pace of snail mail.
How often will I need to renew my Wyoming DBA?
Every 10 years. To renew your Wyoming DBA, you’ll need to file an Application for Renewal of Trade Name Registration with the Wyoming Secretary of State. This application is basically same as the Wyoming trade name application, but it only costs $50.
How much does it cost to renew a DBA in Wyoming?
$50. This is Wyoming’s state filing fee for the Application for Renewal of Trade Name Registration form.
Do I need a separate bank account for my DBA?
Technically, no. A DBA is not a separate legal entity (like an LLC or a corporation), so there’s no need to keep DBA finances separate from your own (or your those of your LLC). But you certainly can open a separate bank account for business done under your DBA. Doing so may be helpful from a bookkeeping perspective.
Do I need a separate EIN for my DBA?
Not necessarily. A DBA is a name you do business under, and registering a DBA doesn’t mean you need to get a new EIN. Multi-member LLCs, corporations, and businesses with employees all need EINs. If your business falls into any of those categories, you’ll need to get an EIN. But if you already have one and you register a DBA, you don’t need a separate EIN.
How many DBAs can I have in Wyoming?
There is no limit to the number of DBAs or trade names you can register in Wyoming. However, each trade name must be registered separately, will cost $100 each to file, and must be renewed every 10 years.
What is a fictitious business name in Wyoming?
In Wyoming, fictitious business names are only used by out-of-state businesses who want to do business in Wyoming, but find that their business name is taken in the state. Note that in some states the terms fictitious business name, DBA, and trade name mean the same thing.
Can I sign a contract with my DBA?
A contract signed with your DBA alone might not hold up in court since a DBA isn’t a legal business entity. However, you should list both your legal and DBA names on contracts so that your business is clearly identified on these documents.
Can I buy a domain under my DBA?
It depends on your domain registrar. Some registrars allow businesses to make purchases under a DBA and others don’t. If you want to avoid buying a domain name with your legal business name, find a registrar that will let you get one under your DBA.
What is my business’s legal name?
Your business’s legal name is whatever name appears on government documents (state filings, tax filings, etc.). It varies depending on your business type.
- For formal business entities like LLCs, corporations, and nonprofits, the business’s legal name is the name that appears on its formation documents and includes the company’s corporate identifier (“Company Name, LLC,” “Company Name, Inc.,” etc.).
- For sole proprietorships, the business’s legal name is the same as the owner’s legal name.
- For general partnerships, the business’s legal name is either the partners’ last names or a name the partnership gave itself in a written partnership agreement.
How can I keep my personal information off the public record?
Wyoming is a great state for privacy, but you can only really take advantage of the protections offered if you hire a Wyoming registered agent and form an LLC. When you hire Northwest to form your Wyoming LLC, we’ll be your Wyoming registered agent and list our name and address on the public record, shielding your personal information from public state documents in Wyoming.