How to Register a DBA in Connecticut (Step-by-Step Guide)
If you’re starting a new business in Connecticut, it’s important to understand the different legal requirements. One aspect to consider is acquiring a DBA (Doing Business As) if you intend to operate under a name that differs from your business’s legal name. This piece briefly overviews what a DBA means, its importance, and the necessary steps to acquire one in Connecticut.
What is a DBA?
DBA is an acronym for “doing business as,” which refers to companies or individuals who operate under a name that differs from their legal name. It is often called a “fictitious business name” or “trade name.”
Registering for a DBA is a solution for companies that want a more marketable trade name. It allows a business to market itself under a different name while still being legally responsible under its legal name.
For instance, if John Smith owns a sole proprietorship offering financial services, he can register a DBA name, such as “Financial Services by John,” to market his products and services instead of using his own name.
The process for registering a DBA varies by state, but the protocol is usually:
- Choosing a unique business name
- Confirming its availability
- Filing the proper DBA forms with the relevant government agency, like the Secretary of State or the county clerk’s office
- Paying the DBA filing fees
Connecticut DBA name registration
Choose your name
Connecticut doesn’t require names to be unique, but many benefits come with a unique name.
It is important to remember some naming requirements when thinking of your new name. There are certain things to avoid. These include:
- Using a business entity suffix, such as LLC, Incorporated, Corp, etc., unless your business is registered as that entity type.
- Using restricted words such as “Attorney” or “University” may require additional paperwork and licensing of an individual, such as a lawyer or doctor, to be part of your business.
- Using words that suggest your business is organized for a purpose other than what it is permitted to do.
- Certain words related to banks, trusts, and savings may require additional approval or documentation.
Check name availability
It is important to note that DBAs are not filed at the state level in Connecticut.
Trade names are filed with the city where your principal place of business is.
To search for DBAs in Connecticut, go to the CT business website.
Here you can search by business name, business ALEI or filing number of the DBA.
This search covers all domestic (formed in Connecticut) and foreign entities (created outside of the state) on record.
Once you have chosen a name for your business, we recommend buying that web domain. Even if you are not ready to launch a website buying the domain will stop others from being able to use it. A website is a fantastic marketing tool for any business.
As names do not need to be unique, you may consider registering them as a trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to protect your name. This will provide you exclusive rights to use the name for your business.
Register your name
Each town has a slightly different registration process. We will walk you through how to register your DBA in Stamford City.
- First, you must find the town clerk where your business will operate. Use the Connecticut Town Clerk Association database.
- It is a good idea to double-check that your business name is unique to the town clerk.
- Download and fill in the Certificate of Registration of Trade Name form.
- Submit the form in person or via mail.
In Stamford, you have to file at:
City of Stamford Town Clerk
888 Washington Boulevard
Stamford, CT 06901
Before filing your DBA name in Stamford, you must file with the Connecticut Secretary of State if your business is either a corporation or LLC.
Pay your filing fees
The filing fee depends on the city or town you are in.
In this example, Stamford charges $10, which includes one certified copy. Other towns may charge less, with some charging $5.
Renew, amend, or withdraw your DBA
- Sole proprietorships in Connecticut do not require trade name renewals.
- Different cities may have their requirements and forms for trade name registrations.
- For example, Stamford charges $10 for each “Certificate of Registration of Trade Name” for DBA name amendments and cancellations.
- If you are changing your name, check the box next to “amend” on the Certificate of Registration of Trade Name form.
- If you are canceling your name, check the box next to “cancel” on the Certificate of Registration of Trade Name form.
- Corporations and LLCs registered with the Connecticut Secretary of State must change their names through this office.
Name change approvals should be mailed to:
The Department of Revenue Services
Registration Unit,450 Columbus Blvd.,
Hartford, CT 06103
Obtain an EIN
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issues an employer identification number (EIN) to companies with employees to facilitate tax purposes.
It’s worth noting that having a DBA name doesn’t alter your legal status, so if you previously obtained an EIN, there’s no need to reapply for a new one; you can continue using your current EIN.
If you’re a sole proprietor without employees, you are able to use your social security number instead of obtaining an EIN. However, applying for an EIN can be easily done online or in person if you plan on hiring employees or opening a business bank account.
Open a business bank account
After registering your business name and getting an EIN, you can open a business bank account.
Having a dedicated bank account helps you keep your finances separate from your business finances, which is useful for tracking your financials accurately. It simplifies accepting payments in the form of checks and credit cards.
Advantages and disadvantages of a DBA
There are many advantages to registering a DBA:
- Versatility: A trade name can be changed or updated more quickly than a legal business name, allowing business owners to adjust to market conditions or changes in their products or services.
- Separation of personal and business finances: A separate business bank account is possible by applying for a DBA, allowing you to conduct bank transactions under your startup’s name instead of your account. This enables you to receive and issue checks or credit card payments using your business name, making it easier to separate personal assets and business finances.
- Enhanced marketing opportunities: A well-chosen name can be more descriptive and memorable than a legal name. This alternative name can improve brand recognition and increase marketing and advertising opportunities.
- Cost-effective solution: Compared to other business entities, such as Limited Liability Companies (LLCs), registering an assumed name usually is less expensive and more straightforward, making it an affordable and timely option for small business owners and entrepreneurs.
There are some drawbacks to consider:
- Limited legal protection: They do not provide personal liability protection, meaning that the business owner is personally responsible for all debts, obligations, and lawsuits related to the business. This lack of legal protection can be a significant risk to some.
- Additional legal and administrative obligations: Registering a new name requires complying with all legal requirements and registering the name with the relevant government agency, which can be time-consuming and add to the business owner’s administrative burden. This additional work can be particularly challenging for small businesses that lack dedicated legal or administrative staff.
Who needs a DBA?
The following groups can benefit from a different name:
- Sole proprietors: Individuals who run a business alone don’t create a separate legal entity. A DBA allows them to use another name to market their products or services and gives them more flexibility to adapt to changes in the market.
- Partnerships: Joint ventures between two or more individuals who want to operate under a different name than the partners’ names. Partners can file a DBA to represent their partnership and increase brand recognition.
- Corporations: Businesses that want to use a name different from their name or diversify their business activities under multiple names. For example, if a corporation has a subsidiary that sells software under the name “Tech Solutions LLC,” but it also wants to sell hardware, it can file a DBA for “Tech Hardware” to create a distinction between the two business activities.
- Limited liability companies (LLCs): LLCs are flexible business structures that allow owners to limit their liability and protect their assets. However, LLCs can also file a DBA to conduct business under a different name or brand.
Why or why wouldn’t you need a DBA?
You would need a DBA if:
- You intend to operate your business under a name other than your or your company’s legal name.
- You want a trading name that is easier to market, remember, or describe your products or services.
- You are a sole proprietor, partnership, corporation, or LLC and want to conduct business under multiple names.
- You want to test a new product or market without changing your legal name.
You may not need a DBA if:
- You are operating your business under your personal name or your company’s name.
Do I need to advertise my DBA in a local newspaper?
You do not need to advertise your registered name in a local newspaper.
How long will it take to receive my new trade name certificate?
Each town and city handles filing differently, so it is hard to definitively say how long it takes to receive the name certificate. Stamford processes forms in 7 to 10 working days; other cities and towns should process them similarly.
Do I need a separate tax ID number for my DBA in Connecticut?
No, you do not need a separate tax ID number for your DBA in Connecticut. You can use your existing tax ID number.
What are the consequences of not registering a DBA in Connecticut?
If you are doing business under a different name than your legal name without registering a DBA in Connecticut, you may face legal and financial consequences, including fines and penalties.
Will I need an Employer Identification Number (EIN) to register a DBA in Connecticut?
No, you do not need an EIN to register a DBA in Connecticut. You will need an EIN for tax purposes if you have employees or are a partnership or corporation.
Can I use my DBA to apply for a business license in Connecticut?
Yes, you can use your DBA to apply for a business license in Connecticut, as long as it is registered with the Secretary of the State.
Do I need a separate EIN for my DBA in Connecticut?
No, you do not need a separate EIN for your DBA in Connecticut. You can use your existing EIN or apply for a new one if necessary.
Can I use my DBA to open a business bank account in Connecticut?
Yes, you can use your DBA to open a business bank account in Connecticut, as long as it is registered with the Secretary of the State. However, you may need to provide additional documentation, such as your EIN and business license, to open the account.
Find out how to register a DBA in your state
Click below to get started