How to Register a DBA in Minnesota (Step-by-Step Guide)
Many important decisions must be made when starting a new business in Minnesota. The process can be intimidating, with lots of acronyms and legal terms to get to grips with. This article will highlight the importance of a DBA in Minnesota. We will explain what a DBA means, situations where your business may need one, and the steps required to obtain a DBA in Minnesota.
What is a DBA?
DBA is an acronym for “doing business as,” which describes companies or individuals who operate under a name different from their legal name. A DBA name is often called an “assumed name,” “fictitious business name,” or “trade name.”
For example, if Susan Lee owns a sole proprietorship that provides pet grooming services, she can register a new name, such as “Paws and Claws Pet Grooming,” to market her products and services instead of using her own name.
The process of registering varies from state to state. Usually, it involves:
- Choosing a unique name
- Confirming its availability
- Filing the proper forms with the relevant government agency, such as the Secretary of State or County Clerk’s office.
- Paying the required state fees.
Minnesota DBA name registration
Choose your name
The first step in starting a business in Minnesota is to choose a unique name that complies with the state’s naming conventions. The name you select should be unique.
- Avoid using specific elements in your new DBA name, such as business entity suffixes like LLC, unless that is the type of business you have.
- Avoid using any terms that are given to financial institutions such as “bank,” “savings and loan association,” “credit union,” or other similar financial terms.
You can visit the Secretary of State’s website’s “naming your business” page for a full list of naming regulations.
Check name availability
You can use the Minnesota Secretary of State’s business name database. This search will confirm if your name is unique and available to use.
Once you have confirmed that your chosen name is available, securing a domain name for your business website is a good idea. This can help establish your online presence and prevent others from using the same domain.
Register your name
To register your name, you must file a Certificate of Assumed Name with the Secretary of State’s office. This can be done online, by mail, or in person.
- To file online, visit the Minnesota Secretary of State’s website and create an account. Then, complete the online filing form and pay the fee using a credit or debit card.
- To file by mail, print out the Certificate of Assumed Name form from the Secretary of State’s website and fill it out. Then, mail the completed form along with the filing fee to the address provided on the form.
- To file in person, visit the Secretary of State’s office and bring a completed Certificate of Assumed Name form and the filing fee. The office is located at:
Minnesota Secretary of State – Business Services
Retirement Systems of Minnesota Building
60 Empire Drive, Suite 100
St Paul, MN 55103
Pay your filing fees
The DBA filing fees are filed at the state level.
Online filings or an expedited in-person service are $50.
If you file by mail, the fee is $30.
Advertise your DBA
Before using your DBA, you must publish a notice in a local newspaper in the county where you plan to operate.
The notice must be published for two consecutive issues, and it must contain the following:
- Your new DBA name
- The business owner’s name and address
- A statement indicating that you intend to use the DBA name in your business activities
Once the notice is published, the newspaper will provide you with an affidavit of publication, which you must file with the county.
The notice’s publishing cost varies depending on your chosen newspaper, but it typically ranges from $30 to $60 per issue.
Renew, amend, or withdraw your DBA
- Your assumed name needs to be renewed annually before December 31. You can renew online or by filling in a renewal form.
- You can retroactively renew an expired name by filing the current year’s renewal and paying a $45 fee for expedited service in person or online. If you file by mail, the fee is $25.
- If you need to amend your name, file the amendment form. Expedited in-person and online changes can be made for $50, whereas it will cost $30 if you make changes by mail.
- To withdraw or cancel your name, fill in a cancellation of assumed name form. There is no fee associated with canceling your name.
Obtain an EIN
An EIN (Employer Identification Number) is a unique nine-digit identification number the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) assigns to identify business entities for tax purposes.
If you are a sole proprietor and don’t have employees, you can use your Social Security Number as your tax ID instead of obtaining an EIN.
If the DBA business hires employees or wants to establish a separate business bank account, they must obtain an EIN.
Open a business bank account
Once you have received your EIN, you can open a business bank account.
There are many benefits to a company bank account. It allows you to accept check and credit card payments with more ease and also allows you to segregate your personal assets and business expenses.
Advantages and disadvantages of a DBA
Registering a DBA can offer several benefits to businesses:
- Brand flexibility: A DBA can be more versatile than a personal name and can be changed if needed, allowing companies to adapt to product or service changes.
- Improved financial management: By opening a business bank account, business owners can use their business name on bank transactions, making it easier to separate one’s personal assets and business finances.
- Better marketing opportunities: A well-chosen name can be more memorable and descriptive, making it easier for customers to recognize and remember the brand.
- Cost-effective option: Compared to other business structures, such as incorporating or forming an LLC, registering a DBA is often less expensive and less complex, making it a cost-effective option for small businesses.
There are a few drawbacks to registering a DBA:
- Limited legal protection: Unlike other business structures like LLCs or corporations, DBAs do not provide personal liability protection. The business owner is then personally responsible for all debts, obligations, and legal issues associated with the business.
- Increased legal and administrative burden: Registering a new name requires businesses to comply with all legal requirements and register the name with the relevant government agency. This can be a time-consuming process that may require the assistance of an attorney or other legal professional, which can be an added expense.
Who needs a DBA?
- Sole proprietors: Individuals who run a business alone don’t create a separate legal entity. A DBA allows them to use a different name for marketing their products or services and gives them more flexibility to adapt to changes in the market.
- General 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 plan to run your business using a name that isn’t your own or your company’s legal name.
- If you want to create a more marketable, memorable, or descriptive name for your products or services.
- If you are a sole proprietor, partnership, corporation, or LLC and want to conduct business under different names.
- If you want to test new products or markets without changing your legal name.
You may not need a DBA if:
- If you operate your business using your personal or company’s legal name.
- If you are a single-owner LLC, that does not need to do business under a different name than your personal name or the name of your LLC.
Does a DBA mean that I now have a business license?
No, a DBA just means you have registered a different name for your business. A business license may need to be applied for depending on what your business does.
So why would I apply for DBA, then?
DBAs are much easier to apply for than becoming a legally registered business. It is an attractive option for small business owners and entrepreneurs.
How long does it take to process my DBA in Minnesota?
If filed by mail, processing a DBA takes 4-7 days. If you register your DBA online, the processes can be completed on the same day. Minnesota does offer expedited same-day services if you choose to file in person.
Can I have the same name as a different business in Minnesota?
You can file a consent-to-use name form if you want to use a name already in use. The existing business must consent to your use of the name.
How long does my DBA last?
Your name is valid from your filing date until December 31. You must complete an annual renewal form if you intend to use it beyond this.
Find out how to register a DBA in your state
Click below to get started