How to Register a Trade Name in New Jersey

by Jim Thomas

In New Jersey, a trade name is considered any name a business uses in the course of doing business that does not include the full legal name of all the owners of the business. Trade names go by different labels in different states; they also are called fictitious names or DBA names, which is short for "doing business as." A business owner in New Jersey that operates under his actual name has the option of registering it as a trade name. However, if you choose a name for your business other than your actual name, you are required to register it as a trade name. For example, if your name is Fred Jones and your business is named "Jones Pizza Parlor," you'll need to register the trade name in the county in which your business is located before you open the door to customers.

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Search Trade Names

Before you register your name, you should perform a search for similar or identical trade names in the county or state, since you can't use a trade name already in existence in the state. You can search online at the website of the New Jersey Department of the Treasury. If you want to name your pizza business "Jones Pizza Parlor" and there already is another business using that name, you'll need to choose another name. If there's also a "Jones Pizza Place," you'll probably want to choose a different name to prevent confusion with a potential competitor.

Registration

The laws of the county in which a sole proprietorship or partnership is located govern the registration process for a trade name. For example, in Union County, a sole proprietorship or business partnership must file a trade name certificate with the county clerk. The sole proprietor must sign the original application and three copies in the presence of a notary. He must mail all four, along with a self-addressed, stamped envelope and a fee to the Union County Clerk's Office. New Jersey corporations and limited liability companies register their business names when they file their formation documents with the New Jersey Secretary of State. A New Jersey corporation or limited liability company may not use an alternate name unless it also uses its actual name in a manner that is not deceptive as to its actual identity, or it has first registered the alternate name with the secretary of state.

Tax Registration for New Businesses

Every business in New Jersey must register with the New Jersey Division of Revenue at least 15 days before the business opens for business. You can register online or by contacting the client registration bureau at the New Jersey Division of Revenue. If you are the sole proprietor of Jones Pizza Parlor and have no employees other than yourself, you will file business taxes using your own security number. However, every business with employees is required to file business taxes under a federal tax ID number, which you can obtain through the IRS website.

Considerations

If your business is set up as a sole proprietorship or partnership and you decide to close it, there are provisions for dropping your current trade name by obtaining a cancellation of trade name certificate. For example, in Union County, you can obtain an application from the county clerk and follow the instructions, which consist of notarizing the application and two copies, and then sending the three forms and a fee to the Union County Clerk's Office.