How to Get a DBA in Kentucky

Kentucky DBA (doing business as) is called an assumed name. Kentucky assumed name registration allows a business to operate under a name that’s different from its legal name.

DBA registration won’t protect your personal assets like forming an LLC or corporation will. Learn why in our DBA vs LLC guide.

Use our How to Get a DBA in Kentucky guide below to register a Kentucky assumed name yourself.

How to Use This Guide

To get started, choose your business entity type:

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File a Kentucky DBA for a Sole Proprietorship

Sole proprietors are required to file their Kentucky DBA with the County Clerk in the county that their business is located. Estates and real estate investment companies are also required to file with the county.

A sole proprietorship is a business owned by a single individual that isn't formally organized. If you run a business and file taxes under your own name, you are a sole proprietor.

A DBA is only used for branding. We recommend forming an LLC to separate your business and personal assets.

Step 1. Start With a Kentucky Assumed Name Search

Kentucky assumed names must be unique and must also meet Kentucky’s business name requirements.

First, visit the Kentucky Secretary of State's website and search for your new DBA name to make sure it isn’t already in use.

Next, review the Kentucky naming requirements. In Kentucky, assumed names should NOT include:

  • Words that could confuse your business with a government agency (FBI, Treasury, State Department, etc.)
  • The word “cooperative” without approval
  • Restricted words (e.g. Bank, Attorney, University) may require additional paperwork and a licensed individual, such as a doctor or lawyer, to be part of your business.

Read the state statute that covers Kentucky naming guidelines for more details.

We recommend checking if your name is available as a web domain (URL). You might not plan on starting a business website today, but you may want to prevent others from acquiring your URL.

Find a Domain Now

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Need Help Creating a Brand Name and Logo?

If you need help coming up with a DBA name, try our business name generator. Then, create a unique logo for your brand with our free logo generator.

Step 2. Filing a DBA in Kentucky with the County Clerk

Sole proprietors are required to file a Certificate to Do Business Under an Assumed Name with the appropriate county clerk’s office(s) in order to operate under a DBA. You must file in any county where your business conducts or transacts business.

We'll give you step-by-step directions to get a Fayette County DBA (Lexington). For directions in other counties, please contact your county clerk.

You can find your counties' contact information from the Kentucky County Clerk's Association.

How to File a Fayette County DBA

Before you start the DBA filing process, it is a good idea to search the Kentucky business name database as well as the local county records in the county office.

Many counties in Kentucky, including Fayettedo not provide a certificate of assumed name forms. However, they all must meet certain criteria as outlined by Kentucky state statute. These criteria are:

  • The form must include the name being assumed
  • The form must include the real name and address of the individual or entity assuming the name.
  • The form must be filed in the county where the entity has deemed a resident

This generic form is an example of how to meet these criteria

File Your Fayette County Assumed Name

Create and File the Certificate to Do Business Under an Assumed Name by Mail or In-Person

Instructions

Cost:
$46 Filing Fee

Filing Address:
Fayette County Clerk's Office
162 East Main Street
Lexington, KY 40507

Manage Your Fayette County DBA

DBA Questions
Call (859) 253-3344 for general questions about business certificates, assumed names, and DBAs.

Renew Your DBA
Your Certificate of Assumed Name must be renewed every five years. The renewal process is the same as the registration process.

Change Your DBA
To change your DBA, you will need to fill out a new registration form.

Withdraw Your DBA
You can withdraw your assumed name by filing a form similar to the original registration form. In addition to the business’ assumed name, real name, and address, this form must include the date when the original was filed. Check out the Fayette County Clerk’s website for more details.

File a Kentucky DBA for an LLC, Corporation, or LLP

The following types of businesses file their Certificate of Assumed Name with the Kentucky Secretary of State:

  • For-profit Corporations, Nonprofit Corporations
  • Professional Corporations, Professional Associations
  • General Partnerships, Limited Partnerships, Limited Liability Partnerships
  • Limited Liability Companies
  • Any Foreign Filing Entities

Step 1. Do a Kentucky Business Entity Search

Kentucky assumed names must be unique and must also meet Kentucky’s business name requirements.

First, visit the Kentucky Secretary of State's website and search for your new DBA name to make sure it isn’t already in use.

Next, review the Kentucky naming requirements. In Kentucky, assumed names should NOT include:

  • Words that could confuse your business with a government agency (FBI, Treasury, State Department, etc.)
  • The word “cooperative” without approval.
  • Restricted words (e.g. Bank, Attorney, University) may require additional paperwork and a licensed individual, such as a doctor or lawyer, to be part of your business.

Read the state statute that covers Kentucky naming guidelines for more details.

We recommend checking if your name is available as a web domain (URL). You might not plan on starting a business website today, but you may want to prevent others from acquiring your URL.

Find a Domain Now

Powered by GoDaddy.com

Need Help Creating a Brand Name and Logo?

If you need help coming up with a DBA name, try our business name generator. Then, create a unique logo for your brand with our free logo generator.

Step 2: Filing Your Kentucky Certificate of Assumed Name

You are required to set up your DBA with the Kentucky Secretary of State if your business is NOT a sole proprietorship.

You can file your Certificate of Assumed Name by mail or in-person at the Secretary of State’s office. The form will ask for your new DBA name and information about your business.

File Your Kentucky Assumed Name

File the Certificate of Assumed Name by Mail or In-Person

File Online

Cost:
$20 Filing Fee

Office Address:
Room 154, Capitol Building
Office of the Secretary of State
700 Capital Avenue
Frankfort, KY 40601

Mailing Address:
Office of the Secretary of State
P.O. Box 718
Frankfort, KY 40602-0718

Manage Your Kentucky DBA

DBA Questions
Call the Kentucky Secretary of State: (502) 564-3490.

Renew Your DBA with the State
Your Certificate of Assumed Name must be renewed every five years. You can complete the renewal process online or complete the Certificate of Renewal of Assumed Name form and mail it in. The fee is $20.

Change Your DBA
To change your actual assumed name, you will have to file a new registration. To make changes to your business address or owner names, fill out the Amended Certificate of Assumed Name form. The filing fee is $20.

Withdraw Your DBA
To cancel your assumed name, fill out the Certificate of Withdrawal of Assumed Name form. The fee is $20.

After Filing Your Kentucky DBA

If filing a DBA marks the beginning of your business journey, then there are a few more steps that you should take before getting started:

  • Create your Business’s Website - Every business needs a website. Luckily, drag-and-drop builders like GoDaddy and Wix make the job quick and easy. Check out our Best Website Builder article to find the tool that’s best for you.
  • Get your Business Finances in Order - You’ll need to separate your business finances from your personal ones. This is accomplished by opening a business bank account. If your business has long lead times or other cash flow irregularities, you can also look into a business credit card.
  • Protect Your Business - While an LLC will help to protect your personal assets in the case of a lawsuit, your business’s assets also need protection. Having the right business insurance will ensure that you’re covered if the worst happens. Most businesses start with general liability insurance as their base coverage.

Need Help Filing Your DBA in Kentucky?

Have a Professional Service File Your Kentucky DBA For You

A professional service will handle filing your DBA on your behalf, allowing you to focus on the other needs of your business.

Recommended: MyCompanyWorks ($99 + state fee)

DBA Kentucky FAQ

How many DBAs can I have?

You can have as many DBAs as you can afford to create and are able to keep track of. Each one comes with additional incremental expenses and paperwork, meaning more is not necessarily better.

Can a DBA get an EIN or Tax ID?

DBAs aren’t required to have a separate EIN because DBAs aren’t a business entity. The business entity that the DBA is under would have an EIN if an EIN is required.

To learn more about EINs and when you need one for your business, read our What is an EIN guide.

Can a DBA become an LLC?

No. An LLC is a business entity, while a DBA is just a name for a business.

Sole proprietorships are often confused with DBAs, but they are not the same: a sole proprietorship is a business entity, therefore it can choose to become an LLC.

To learn how to form an LLC, visit our Form an LLC state guides.

Can a DBA have Inc. in the name?

A DBA can only have Inc. in the name if the business entity the DBA is attached to is a corporation.

How do I set up a DBA for a rental property?

Holding a rental property in your name and with a DBA will not afford you any protection. The best option is to form an LLC to protect your personal assets in the event of an issue with the rental property. In any case, it is always best to consult an attorney.

When would it be good to get a DBA versus a legal name change?

Getting a DBA is often a better choice than changing your business’s legal name. If you want to rebrand your company or focus on another line of business, filing for a DBA is a simpler process than filing for a legal name change.

Is my DBA protected from being used in other places?

Some state-level laws prevent DBAs that are too similar to existing ones from being used, but this varies from state to state. It is possible to trademark a DBA, which would offer stronger protection across state lines.

Useful Links for Your Kentucky DBA