Are you a Michigan business owner who wants to be able to operate your company under an assumed name? If so, consider acquiring a doing business as (DBA) name.
How do you obtain a DBA name for your Michigan company, and how are you allowed to use your new name? In this guide, we’ll walk through every detail of the DBA acquisition process in this state.
What is a Michigan DBA?
For sole proprietorships and general partnerships, a DBA enables you to use a name other than the owner’s personal name. For limited liability companies and corporations, DBAs allow you to use multiple names to officially refer to your business activities.
There are many different reasons for Michigan companies to acquire ‘doing business as’ names.
- For sole proprietorships and partnerships, they can make your company sound more professional than simply using your own name. You can also open a bank account using your DBA, which can not only help you keep your business and personal assets separate, but customers often have a higher comfort level writing out a check to a business name rather than to an individual’s personal name.
- For corporations and LLCs, DBAs are frequently used to give the company the option of using different names for separate product lines. Another common usage of a DBA is to distinguish satellite businesses from your main company. Restaurant owners love to do this, as for example it can help a fine-dining establishment open a fast-casual spin-off restaurant without affecting customers’ perceptions of the original location. Whether you want to create this separation for marketing or accounting purposes (or both), a doing business as name gives companies options that they wouldn’t otherwise have.
In short, a DBA in Michigan allows businesses to communicate their image and express themselves in different ways without having to actually form a new business to do so.
How Do I File a Michigan DBA?
In Michigan, the process for getting a DBA is rather simple. While certain business types will need to file DBAs at the county level, all corporations, limited partnerships, and LLCs can file the DBA paperwork at the state level. In either case, the first step is to make sure that your desired name is available by running a business entity search here.
This ensures that your desired business name is available, and hasn’t already been claimed by another business in the state.
Once you have confirmed that the name is available, you can fill out the Certificate of Assumed Name, which requires some important information about your company, including: P.O. Box 30054
Lansing, MI 48909 2501 Woodlake Circle
Okemos, MI 48864
Once you finish filling out this form, you’ll need to include a check for $25 made payable to the “State of Michigan.” Then, you can either file the form online here, or mail the form and check to the following address: Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Corporations, Securities & Commercial Licensing Bureau Corporations Division
P.O. Box 30054 Lansing, MI 48909The forms can also be delivered in person at this location:
2501 Woodlake Circle Okemos, MI 48864
How Long Does a Michigan DBA Last?
Any “doing business as” name registration has an effective lifespan of five years from the date it is filed. A renewal notice is mailed to business owners approximately 90 days before the expiry date. If you would like to continue using your assumed name beyond the five-year point, you should file an Assumed Name Renewal. For more information on renewing your DBA, check out the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs website. Each time you file a renewal, the state of Michigan will renew your DBA for another five-year period.
Should I Hire a Professional DBA Filing Service?
If you’d rather not fill out the paperwork and register for a DBA yourself, there are plenty of reputable companies offering a service. For a fee, these services will assemble the relevant paperwork and submit it to your state, and all you have to do is supply them with some basic information.
While hiring a DBA service can save you some time, there are probably better ways to use your budget. In other states, the process can be more complicated, but the requirements for obtaining a Michigan DBA are simple, especially for corporations, limited partnerships, and LLCs. So, for most business owners, by the time you finish giving your info to the DBA service, you could probably just file for it yourself. That said, if you’re just too busy to handle any more tasks, most service providers (Ex: LegalZoom) charge a fair rate for this service.
The doing business as name, or DBA for short, is one of the most simple business filings for Michigan entrepreneurs. The process to acquire one is quite straightforward, and you can begin using your new assumed name as soon as the state completes your filing.
We hope this article answered your questions about how to file a Michigan; DBA!
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Does a DBA provide any legal protections?
A: No, registering a DBA does not legally protect you or your business. If you’re seeking personal asset protection, you might want to look into forming a corporation or a limited liability company rather than just acquiring a DBA name.
Q: Does a DBA need a registered agent?
A: A registered agent is not a legal requirement for sole proprietorships or general partnerships that acquire DBA names. However, limited liability companies and corporations do require a registered agent whether they have a DBA or not.
Q: Can someone else register a business using the same name as my DBA?
A: Filing a DBA does not give your business exclusive rights to your assumed name. If someone wants to use the same name, and they form an LLC or corporation with it, they are legally allowed to take your name for themselves.
Q: Does the state of Michigan require publication of a DBA name?
A: No, Michigan does not require DBA names to be published.