DBA as a Sole Proprietorship in Massachusetts

By Wayne Thomas

Naming a business is often a very important step from a branding perspective. In Massachusetts, business registrations are typically handled by the Secretary of the Commonwealth. For owners that choose to structure their business as a sole proprietorship, the name of the company defaults to the name of the owner. In some cases, however, this may not be a desirable option. In such cases, a new fictitious business name must be registered locally before the company can operate. The procedure involves the completion and filing of a certificate containing the addresses and names of the business and owner as well as the payment of a filing fee. The fictitious name will then be included on all government forms and tax filings as well as any applicable licenses and permits.

Naming a business is often a very important step from a branding perspective. In Massachusetts, business registrations are typically handled by the Secretary of the Commonwealth. For owners that choose to structure their business as a sole proprietorship, the name of the company defaults to the name of the owner. In some cases, however, this may not be a desirable option. In such cases, a new fictitious business name must be registered locally before the company can operate. The procedure involves the completion and filing of a certificate containing the addresses and names of the business and owner as well as the payment of a filing fee. The fictitious name will then be included on all government forms and tax filings as well as any applicable licenses and permits.

Using Owner's Name

Most sole proprietorships start automatically the instant the owner begins business operations. The owner and the company are considered one, with personal liability for the debts and taxes of the business remaining with the owner. In Massachusetts, so long as the owner operates the business under his name, no registration with the commonwealth is required, nor does any formation paperwork need to be filed.

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Using a DBA

In Massachusetts, if a sole proprietor wishes to operate a business under a name that differs from her name, she must register the name. In this instance, according to Massachusetts law, an owner is required to file a certificate with the office of the city clerk in every city or town where the business may be situated. This certificate is often referred to as a "Doing Business As" certificate.

Registration Process

The registration process involves the filling out of an application, including the name of the business and its location. The certificate must also include the name and residence of the owner and must be signed in the presence of either the city or town clerk or a notary public.

Fees Duration

In addition to filing the appropriate paperwork, registration of a DBA name requires the payment of the required filing fee before the name will be officially recognized. The name will be effective for four years and the owner will be required to pay an additional fee if he wishes to change the name of the business during that time.

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Setting Up a DBA in Massachusetts

References

Related articles

Define DBA

A DBA, short for "doing business as," refers to the name a company or individual uses when it operates under a different name than its legally registered name. Most states require you to register your DBA with either your county clerk’s office or with your state government, depending on where you're doing business. DBAs are also called "assumed names," "trade names," or "fictitious names."

How to Register a Trade Name in Massachusetts

If you want to do business under any name besides your legal given name, you need to use a trade name, also known as a "doing business as," or DBA, name. For example, if you want to call your delivery service "Mere Minutes," you have to register that name. In Massachusetts, the state doesn't handle the registrations of business names for unincorporated businesses. Instead, you must register the name in each city or town where you will do business to receive a "doing business as" certificate, which is renewable. Be sure to note the expiration date of the certificate and renew as indicated.

Setting Up a Sole Proprietorship in Texas

One of the first decisions you must make when starting your own business is to choose which business form you want to use. Many business forms are available for new businesses in Texas, including corporations, limited liability companies, partnerships and sole proprietorships. Each has unique formation and maintenance requirements, which are handled by the Texas Office of the Secretary of State.

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