When you start a new business, one of the first things to do is get the business name that you will use. This is also called "doing business as 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. Fortunately, you do not have to go to your city or state government office to register in person, because you can register your business name online.
Go online to begin the business name registration process (see Resources). Although many state business sites are all similar in the way they have people register a business name online, you will need to go to the proper website for you. 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. You can go online to find links to all of the different state departments where you can search for name availability online (see Resources).
Check to see if your business name is available. 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.
Register your business name online with Simple Filings. Since not all states have the funds, expertise, time or other necessary things to have the option to file a registration for a business name online, you can simply go through Simple Filings, a website that does most of the work for you (see Resources). When you file your business name online with Simple Filings, you must choose your business entity: Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, Corporation, S Corporations, Single Member LLC, or Multi Member LLC.
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.
Pay for your business name registration online with Simple Filings. It costs about the same as filing your business name with your state directly. Simple Filings will pay any state fees required for registering your business name. You have the option of choosing a rush delivery or an expedited delivery if you are in a rush. This will have all of your paperwork sent to you in 1 or 2 business days. Pay with Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover or with your PayPal account.
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."