Trade Name (DBA)

Trade Name: any assumed or fictitious name, style or designation other than the proper name of an individual or entity doing business as such name. 

Please Note: This is NOT the first step to registering a business entity, such as a Profit Corporation, Nonprofit Corporation, Limited Liability Company (LLC, PLC, L3C), Cooperative, MBE, or Partnership (General, LLP, or LP).

To register a business entity, please select your intended business type from the "START OR REGISTER A BUSINESS" menu on the left side of this page.

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Trade Names 

If you are:

  • a Sole Proprietorship seeking to do business as (DBA) a name other than your own proper name* or a business name that includes your proper name.*
  • an Association of Individuals (i.e. an Unincorporated Association).
  • a Business Entity (profit or nonprofit) seeking to do business as (DBA) a business name other than your business entity's proper* name, to include doing business without your entity's name without its business identifier (eg. Corp., Inc., Ltd., Co., PC, PA, SC, LLC, LLP, LP, MBE, IC, etc.).

* Proper Name:

  • of an individual: the individual's name rendered with at least one given name and one surname.  
  • of a business entity: the complete name as shown in the records of the Secretary of State - including its entity identifier.

Then registering your business name as a Trade Name with this office is your first step.  

Your trade name registration informs the public of who you are and what kind of business you are in, as well as giving you some degree of name protection. This type of registration is used by an individual, a business entity (e.g. corporations, nonprofits, LLCs, etc.), or an association thereof that intends to “do business” under an additional or different business name.

 
“Trade Name” vs. “Business Name”

The term “trade name” is often used synonymously with the broader term “business name,” which may be applied to any business structure (e.g. corporation, LLC, partnership, etc.). However, the term “trade name,” for the purpose of Vermont business registrations, specifically refers to the business registration that is known in other jurisdictions as either “fictitious name,” “assumed name” or “doing business as (DBA) name.”
  

Trade Name Registration vs. Business (Profit or Nonprofit) Entity Registration

A trade name registration does not create a legal business entity (corporation, nonprofit, limited liability company (LLC, PLC, L3C), mutual benefit enterprise (MBE or LCA) or partnership (general, LLP or LP)).  

A trade name is simply an additional business name under which the registered owner(s) have the legal authority to do business as — and incur the same liabilities as would doing business in the individual name(s) of the owner(s).
  

Exemptions to the Registration Requirement

Under Vermont law, 11 V.S.A. § 1621, individuals are not required to register a trade name with our office if they are doing business with the public under a business name that includes their full legal name, e.g. “John Smith Carpentry” or “John C. Smith Carpentry.”  

Please Note: Despite this exemption, and to follow internal business fraud prevention policies, many vendors and banks may still require you to register your business name with our office.

However, the business name of a trade name registration may not be just the legal name of an owner - this includes an owner's full legal name with or without first or middle name(s) and/or first or middle initial(s).

Please Note: 

  1. This means that the trade name's business name may not be exactly the same as a provided individual owner's name.
      
  2. This is not a restriction on what are known as "pen names" for writers or "professional names" for other fields — so long as your pen name or professional name is not the same as a individual owner's name listed on your registration.
        

Foreign (Non-Vermont) Trade Names Doing Business in Vermont

Under Vermont law, there is no distinction between domestic and foreign trade names. If you do business in another state using a DBA, alternate name, fictitious name, or trade name, and seek to do business in Vermont, you simply register as a new trade name (DBA). 

 
Business Name of a Trade Name

There are no standard words or phrases required to be part of the business name of a trade name.  However, the business name of a trade name may not include any word, phrase, or abbreviation that falsely implies that it is the name of a business entity rather than simply an additional name under which the owner(s) may do business.

This restriction includes the following words and phrases, as well as any abbreviation thereof: "corporation," "incorporated," "company," "limited," "professional corporation," "professional association," "service corporation," "cooperative," "mutual benefit enterprise," "limited liability company" (includes "LC," "LLC," "PLC," & "L3C"), "limited liability partnership" (includes "RLLP" & "LLP), or "limited partnership."

   
Ownership of a Trade Name

The ownership of a trade name may be one or more individual persons (11 V.S.A. § 1621) or business entities (11 V.S.A. § 1623).  

Please Note: To own a Trade Name as a business entity (corp., LLC, etc.), the business entity itself must first be registered with the Corporations Division.

 
Trade Name Law

Please visit 11 V.S.A. Ch.15 of the Vermont Statutes Online for more information.

 
Registration Fees

Please see “Fees & Filings” for the costs of trade name registration.

 
Duration of Registration

Once registered, you must renew your trade name registration every five years. For renewal information, please see “Renewals.”

STOP: Before you get started, we recommend that you consult with an attorney, accountant, or business advisor about which business type is best for you.

Registering a Trade Name: Online or by Mail

Do not invest in websites, signs, business cards, or other marketing materials until you receive a certificate confirming the availability and your ownership of the requested name.

The state of Vermont operates under a “distinguishable on the record” standard. Under this standard, if the requested name is too similar to an already registered name, such that it would confuse the public as to whom they are dealing with, it will be rejected.

All registrations with the Office of the Secretary of State are subject to name availability rules. Please search our online database for your desired business name to avoid any obvious conflicts.

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Online Filing

Online filing normally takes less than 1 business day.

  
Online registration is the preferred method. There is no extra fee and turnaround times are much faster. For information and instructions about online registration, please see our Online Registration Guide. To begin your online registration, please visit the Online Business Service Center:

Log In & File Online


Filings by Mail

Please allow seven to ten business days for the processing of any filings received by mail.

  
Please select the "Trade Name Registration" form below.

Trade Name Forms

This page was last updated: 2017-02-15