When you start a new business one of the first things that is decided is a business name. This is also called a "doing business as" or DBA name. Any fictitious business name has to be registered with your city, state or federal government. A fictitious business name is anything except your own legal name.

For example, my name is Nicole LaMarco and if I use my name for my freelance writing business, I do not need to register a business name. If I were to use "LaMarco's Writing Services" or "Mixed Media" or anything other than my name I would have to register it. You do not have to go to your city or state government office, because you can register your business name online.

1. Find Your State's Business Name Website

Find your state's business name portal. If you are doing business in New Hampshire you cannot legally file your business name in Maine, for example. Choose the state you are doing business in, even if you live in a different state.

If you work from home choose the state in which you live and work. See the resources box below for a link to a website with the links to all of the different state departments where you can search for name availability online

2. See if Your Business Name is Available

Check to see if your business name is available with your local state department. Most states allow you to do this online in order to speed up the whole process. This is why it is a good idea to have a few different business names available to choose from. This is also why some businesses choose to add something to their business name or misspell it on purpose in order to get the business name they want to use.

You cannot register or use your business name if it is already being used. You will need to choose a name that is not already in use and make sure by check the name availability on the website.

3. Register Your Business Name Online

Register your business name online with your state. Choose your business entity: Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, Corporation, S Corporations, Single Member LLC, or Multi Member LLC.

4. Fill in Your Business Information

Fill out the form that comes up after you choose the type of business you are starting. This includes a description of your business, the business name, business start date, your social security number or employer identification number, your name, address, phone, fax, email address, and business address.

5. Pay for Your Online Business Registration

Pay for your business name registration online and pay any state fees required for registering your business name. Depending on your state, you may have the option of choosing a rush delivery or an expedited delivery if you are in a rush. This should have all of your paperwork sent to you in 1-2 business days.


Read through all of the content on the website of your state's department with which you will be filing your business name online. If you have trouble finding where to apply online you can call the number on the website to ask about it, or you can find the search box and enter "register business name online".