In Idaho, you can operate your business as a sole proprietorship -- meaning there is no legal difference between you and your business -- or under a formal business structure like a corporation or limited liability company. Whatever business structure you choose, you must operate your business under your business’s legal name unless you file a Certificate of Assumed Business Name with the Idaho Secretary of State.
If you are “doing business as” any name other than your business’s legal name, Idaho law says you are doing business under an "assumed name." If you operate a sole proprietorship, an assumed name is any name different from your personal name. If you operate another type of business entity, an assumed name is a name different from the names of your partners, corporation or limited liability company. For example, if you operate a photography business without any formal business structure, you are a sole proprietor. If you conduct your business under your personal name, you do not have to file an assumed name certificate. However, if you conduct business as Sunshine Photography, for example, you must file a certificate since you are using a different name from your own.
Choosing a Name
Before choosing an assumed name for your business, you may wish to check whether the name you want is available. The Secretary of State’s office keeps all business names on file and they are public record, so you can ask the office to check its records to ensure the name you want to use is not identical or deceptively similar to another business’s name. Alternatively, you can check yourself using the Secretary of State’s online business entity search. Filing a certificate is a “notice” filing, which means that your filing simply gives notice to the public that you are using that name. Filing itself does not give you the exclusive right to use the name.
Filing Your Certificate
To file a Certificate of Assumed Business Name, you must use the form provided on the Idaho Secretary of State’s website. You must include information such as your assumed name, your business’s actual legal name, your business’s address and type of business. You can fill out the form online and mail it or hand-deliver the form and filing fee to the Secretary of State at the address listed on the form. You can also fax your certificate, but you must provide payment along with the fax.
Reserving a Name
If you plan to create your business under a formal legal structure, such as a corporation or limited liability company, you might have a name in mind for your business before you are ready to actually file your formation documents. In this situation, you can reserve your proposed name for up to four months by filing an Application for Reservation of Legal Entity Name. The form includes your name and address along with the name you want to reserve, and it must be accompanied by a filing fee. You don’t have to file this form if you are ready to file your formation documents. For example, if you are already operating your business as a sole proprietorship under an assumed name and you are ready to incorporate the business, you likely will not need to file a reservation application.