How to Deregister a Business Name

By Elizabeth Rayne

Canceling a business name is an important step for closing businesses, but also for any company that no longer wants to use a registered business name. Generally, business names are approved and registered under state law. As important as it is to select an available business name that correctly identifies a business, it is equally important to retire a business name that you are no longer using.

Independent Entities

When you register an independent business entity, you automatically register a business name with the state. An independent entity is a business that operates separately from its owners; examples of independent entities are corporations or limited liability companies. In most states, the state maintains a database of registered names to prevent two businesses from registering the same name. When the owners of an independent entity dissolve the business, the name under which the owners originally filed business name is automatically cancelled. The name will be then become available for others to use, and there is nothing more the owners need to do beyond closing down the business.

Doing Business As

Sole proprietors, partnerships and independent entities may register a fictitious business name, or a Doing Business As (DBA) certificate. In certain cases, registering as a DBA is required. Sole proprietorships and partnerships must register their business as a DBA whenever they want to do business in a different name other than their own. If a person's name is John Smith, he can register his business as John Smith. If John Smith chooses to register as John Smith, Contractor, John Smith, Electrician or John Smith, Consultant, then this becomes a fictitious name. Independent entities may choose to file for a DBA if they want to do business in a different name than the one they originally registered with the state. Fictitious names, in most states, must be approved by the local or state government before a business can use the name. However, some states do not require sole proprietorships to file fictitious business names. To cancel a DBA, you usually are required to submit a cancellation notice with the office that handled the registration, such as the secretary of state or county clerk.

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Some business choose to file for a trademark at the state or federal level. In some states, a business must register a trademark or trade name to prevent other companies from using the same name. Contact the state registration office to cancel the registration. At the federal level, business may register a trademark for nationwide protection of the name. The process for canceling a federal trademark is fairly complicated for an individual who is not an attorney. To cancel a federal trademark, file a Petition for Cancellation with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. You may file online.


Especially when closing a business, it is essential that you cancel a registered business name properly. Doing so will protect your professional reputation, and it will also ensure that you will not owe additional debts on behalf of the business. Once you have cancelled a business name or trademark, any future contracts or other agreements in the business' name will no longer be associated with you, or your company.

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