Trade Name (DBA)

Trade, Fictitious, or DBA Name  

If you are a Vermont resident doing business in this state, the simplest way to meet the registration requirements of state law would be to register a trade name, also known as a fictitious name, assumed name, or “doing business as” (DBA) name.

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 commonly used by individuals, associations of individuals, partnerships, corporations, or LLCs that intend to “do business” under a different name.

“Trade Name” vs.“Business Name”

Although the term “trade name” is often used synonymously with the broader term “business name” which could be applied to any business structure, the term "trade name" for the purpose of Vermont business registration specifically refers to the business structure also know as “fictitious name,” “assumed name,” or “doing business as (DBA) name.”

NOTE: If you are seeking to initially register as an LLC, Corporation, Nonprofit, or any other business structure, the Trade Name Registration is NOT your starting point.  Please select your desired business structure from the list on the left-hand menu under “Start or Register a Business”  for instructions.

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 that:

1. Despite this exemption, and to meet internal business risk processes, many vendors and banks may still require you to register your business name with our office.

2. You may NOT register just your full legal name as a Business Name, e.g. "John Smith" or "John C. Smith."

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

Under Vermont Law, there is no distinction between domestic and foreign Trade Name. To register an existing out-of-state Trade Name to do business in Vermont:

  • If owned by individual person(s) - simply file the Trade Name Registration (Individuals) form below.
  • If owned by a business entity, please use the Trade Name Registration (Business Entities) form below. 
    • Please note: Your business entity must also be registered with the Vermont Secretary of State - if not yet registered with us, please see the appropriate page from the list on the left under "Start or Register a Business" for foreign entity filing instructions and file along with the Trade Name Registration (Business Entities) form.

Trade Name Law

Please visit Title 11, Chapter 15 of the Vermont Statutes Online for more information.

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

Registering a Trade Name

To register a trade name to be owned by one or more individual persons:

Persons, Partnerships, Associations of Individuals, and Mutual Benefit Associations (MBEs)

To register a trade name to be owned by a business entity:

Corporations, Nonprofits, LLC/PLC/L3Cs, General Partnerships, LLPs, or LPs

Once registered, a trade name will expire after five years. For renewal information, please see “Manage Your Registration.”

Name Availability

Do not invest in websites, banners, advertisements, or other marketing materials until you receive a certificate confirming your ownership of the requested name.

The state of Vermont operates under a “deceptively similar” standard. Under this standard, if the requested name is so 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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Coming soon: All registration, management, and closing functions will occur via our  Online Business Service Center.

This page was last updated: 2014-08-27