In Georgia, a “Doing Business As” moniker is known as a trade name. Whichever term you use, a DBA is a name a business uses instead of its legal name. For example, a hair salon that is a sole proprietorship owned by Mary Smith might be called “Mary Jo’s Salon,” even though the owner's name is the legal name of the business. Georgia state law O.C. G.A. 10-1-490 requires the filing of all trade names within 30 days of the time a business begins operating.
Locate the office of the clerk of superior court in the county where your business operates. If the firm is a corporation, file the trade name in the county where it legally resides. Although trade name registration is mandated by state law, this function is delegated to the superior court clerk in each county. The Superior Court Clerks' Association of Georgia maintains a searchable online database you may use to find contact information for your county clerk.
Check to see if another business is already using the trade name you have in mind. You cannot register a trade name already in use in your county. Each county clerk's office maintains a trade name book that lists existing names. If you inadvertently file a name already in use, the registration won't be valid. You will have to start the process over from scratch and you may not get a refund of fees already paid.
Complete the application form. Some counties make forms available online. Alternatively, you can pick up a blank trade name registration form at the county clerk's office. You have to provide the following information:
- The legal name and addresses of the business
- The chosen trade name
- The type of business, such as sole proprietorship, partnership or corporation
- The nature of the business. For example, state whether it is a restaurant, hair salon, retail shop.
- Notarized signatures of the business owner(s)
Mail the notarized original application form to the office of the county clerk of superior court. Include a check or money order for the filing fee. Fees vary by county. For example, in 2015 the fee in Fulton County was $163.50. In DeKalb County, it was $157.00.
Place a notice of the trade name filing in the local newspaper approved by the county clerk. Georgia law requires that you run the notice for two consecutive weeks. You will need to send the newspaper a copy of your filing application. You are responsible for paying the cost of publishing the legal notice.
Based in Atlanta, Georgia, William Adkins has been writing professionally since 2008. He writes about small business, finance and economics issues for publishers like Chron Small Business and Bizfluent.com. Adkins holds master's degrees in history of business and labor and in sociology from Georgia State University. He became a member of the Society of Professional Journalists in 2009.