Trade Name (DBA)

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Trade, Fictitious, or DBA Names  

If you are a Vermont resident that is doing business in this state, the simplest way to meet the registration requirements of state law is to register a trade, or “doing bussines 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 used by individuals, associations of individuals, partnerships, or business entities (e.g. corporations, nonprofits, LLCs, etc.) that intend to “do business” under a 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 registration, specifically refers to the business structure more commonly referred to as “fictitious name,” “assumed name,” or “doing business as (DBA) name.”

NOTE: If you are seeking to 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 “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:

  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 names. If you do business in another state using a fictitious name and would like to do business in Vermont, you simply register as a new trade name. 

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 implying that it is the business name of a business type other than that of a trade name.

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."

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 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 “deceptively similar” 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 Registration

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 & Register Online

 


Registration by Mail

For trade names to be owned by one or more individuals:

To register a trade name (DBA) of a person, partnership, associations of individuals, or mutual benefit association (MBE) under the individual name(s) of all persons, general partners, members, or directors seeking to do business under this name, please use the Trade Name Registration (Individuals) form.

For trade names to be owned by a business entity:

To register a trade name (DBA) under the business name of a corporation, nonprofit, LLC/PLC/L3C, general partnership, LLP, or LP, please use the Trade Name Registration (Business Entities) form. Please note that a business entity must first be registered with the Corporations Division before it can own a trade name.

This page was last updated: 2014-11-24