A North Carolina DBA (doing business as) is called an assumed business name. North Carolina assumed business name registration allows a business to operate under a name that’s different from its legal name.
North Carolina DBA registration won’t protect your personal assets. Forming a formal business structure like an LLC or corporation will give you liability protection along with a business name
Use our step by step guide below to get a DBA for your North Carolina business. For a look at DBA filing in another state, check out our other How to Get a DBA guides.
Register an Assumed Name in NC
Registering a North Carolina assumed business name, also known as a DBA, is easy!
A DBA is only used for branding. A DBA doesn't offer any protection for your personal assets in the event that your business is sued. For this reason, we strongly recommend that a DBA should only be used by a formal business structure such as an LLC or corporation for the purpose of adding new brands to an existing business.
If you are running an informal business (sole proprietorship or partnership), we strongly suggest forming an LLC to separate your business and personal assets. The name of the LLC can be selected to act as the brand name for the business.
Learn How to File a DBA in North Carolina yourself in two steps:
- Start with a North Carolina Assumed Business Name Search
- File Your North Carolina DBA with the County
Note: A DBA is only used for branding. We recommend forming an LLC to separate your business and personal assets.
Step 1. Start with a North Carolina Assumed Business Name Search
Your North Carolina assumed business name should be unique and must also meet North Carolina’s business name requirements.
Before you file, you will need to search the state’s Assumed Name Database to make sure your exact name isn’t already taken. While North Carolina state laws don’t require you to file a unique assumed business name, it is a good idea to choose one that isn’t already in use. We will provide contact information for county offices in Step 2. You will also need to consider any state naming rules.
Your North Carolina assumed business name should NOT include:
- Any business entity suffix, such as LLC, Incorporated, Corp, etc., unless the business is actually an LLC, corporation, etc.
- The following words without the proper approval: bank, banker, banking cooperative, co-op, mutual, trust, architect, architecture, architectural, certified public accountant (CPA), engineer, engineering, insurance, pharmacy, prescription drug, drug, prescription, Rx, apothecary, realtor, surveyor, survey, surveying, and wholesale.
The North Carolina Secretary of State has more information about the state’s business naming rules on their website.
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
Once you reserve a domain name for your DBA, consider setting up a business phone system to help strengthen your customer service and boost credibility. We recommend Phone.com because of its affordable pricing and variety of useful features. Start calling with Phone.com.
Need Help Creating a Brand Name and Logo?
Step 2. Register Your North Carolina DBA
North Carolina assumed business names are filed with the county or counties where your company does business.
A DBA does not offer any protection for your personal assets in the event that your business is sued. For more information on setting up a limited liability company, visit our qc page and select your state.
Filing a DBA With the County Register of Deeds
DBA regulations are managed by the state of North Carolina, which means the steps for getting a DBA are similar from county to county. In fact, each county uses the same registration form.
We will provide step-by-step directions to get a Mecklenburg County (Charlotte) assumed business name. If you need to file in a different county, contact the correct county clerk for instructions.
These links will lead you to the assumed business name websites for some of the more populated counties:
- Durham County Register of Deeds
- Wake County Register of Deeds
- Guilford County Register of Deeds
- Mecklenburg County, Full Instructions Below
For a complete list of county contact information, visit the North Carolina Association of Registers of Deeds website.
How to File a Mecklenburg County DBA
Assumed business name certificates can be filed by mail or in-person with the Mecklenburg County Register of Deeds. The certificate must be notarized.
Reminder: Mecklenburg County suggests that you check the state’s assumed business name database as well as records in the county office before filing to make sure your name isn’t already taken.
File Your North Carolina Assumed Business Name
File the Assumed Business Name Certificate by Mail or In-Person
$26 First-Time Filing Fee for One Business/One Registrant
Register of Deeds
720 East Fourth Street
Charlotte, NC 28202
Manage Your Mecklenburg County DBA
Call (704) 336-2443 for general questions about Mecklenburg County assumed business names.
Renew Your Mecklenburg County DBA
Your North Carolina assumed business name does not expire and therefore does not need to be renewed.
Change Your Mecklenburg County DBA
To make changes to your assumed business name certificate, complete the amendment form and return it to the Register of Deeds. The filing fee is $26.
Withdraw Your Mecklenburg County DBA
To cancel your assumed name, complete the withdrawal form and return it to the Register of Deeds office. The filing fee is $26.
If you want to use a professional service to get a DBA for your business we recommend:
Swyft Filings ($99 + state fee)
After Filing Your North Carolina 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.
DBA North Carolina 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 vs 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.