How to File a DBA in North Dakota

A North Dakota DBA (doing business as) is called a trade name or fictitious name. North Dakota trade name or fictitious name registration allows a business to operate under a name that’s different from its legal name.

North Dakota 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

Forming an LLC is the best choice for most small businesses. Learn more in our DBA vs LLC guide.

Use our step by step guide below to get a DBA for your North Dakota business. For a look at DBA filing in another state, check out our other How to Get a DBA guides.


Register a Trade Name in ND

Registering a North Dakota trade name or fictitious 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 Dakota yourself in two steps:

  1. Start with a North Dakota Trade Name or Fictitious Name Search
  2. Register Your North Dakota DBA

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 Dakota Trade Name or Fictitious Name Search

North Dakota trade names and fictitious names must be unique and must also meet North Dakota’s business name requirements.

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

Next, review the North Dakota naming requirements. In North Dakota, trade names and fictitious names should NOT include:

  • Any business entity suffix, such as LLC, Incorporated, Corp, etc., unless the business is actually an LLC, corporation, etc.
  • Words that imply that the company was organized for an unlawful purpose.

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?

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. Register Your North Dakota DBA

North Dakota has two types of DBAs: a fictitious name for partnerships and a trade name for all other types of businesses (corporations, LLCs, etc.).

Both North Dakota trade names and fictitious names can be filed online with the North Dakota Secretary of State.

The Trade Name Registration form requires the following information:

  • The trade name being registered
  • Type of entity registering the trade name
  • Whether the trade name will be used by a franchisor
  • Description of the business

The Fictitious Partnership Name Certificate form requires the following information:

  • The fictitious name being registered
  • Type of partnership
  • Description of the business
  • Names of partners

DBA does not offer any legal 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 How to Form an LLC page and select your state.

File a North Dakota Trade Name or Fictitious Name

File a Tradename or Fictitious Name Online With the North Dakota Secretary of State’s FirstStop Website

File Online

- OR -

Download a Trade Name Form (for sole proprietorships, LLCs, Corporations) to Mail In or Fax

Download Form


Cost:
$25 Filing Fee

Submit Your Trade Name Registration ND Form:

Mail

Secretary of State
State of North Dakota
600 E Boulevard Avenue Dept 108
Bismarck ND 58505-0500

Fax

701-328-2992

Manage Your North Dakota Trade Name or Fictitious Name

General Questions
Call the North Dakota Secretary of State: (701) 328-2904

Renew Your Trade Name or Fictitious Name With the State
Your North Dakota trade name or fictitious expires five years from the date of registration. The Secretary of State will mail renewal forms at least 60-90 days before the expiration date.

Change Your Trade Name or Fictitious Name
To change your trade name, you must cancel your current registration and file a new one.

Withdraw Your Trade Name or Fictitious Name
The Secretary of State does not have a trade name cancellation form. The registrant must draft a request to cancel the trade name and submit it and a $10 fee to the Secretary of State.

If you want to use a professional service to get a DBA for your business we recommend:

four point two of fiveSwyft Filings ($99 + state fee)

After Filing Your North Dakota 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 Dakota 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 North Dakota DBA