How to Obtain a Trade Name in Pennsylvania

By Mark Kennan

A trade name, known as a fictitious name in Pennsylvania, is an assumed name that a business uses to conduct business that is different than its legal name. For example, if you want your business to be known as Exquisite Assortments, you have to register "Exquisite Assortments" as your fictitious name. Registration of a fictitious name does not provide a business entity with exclusive rights to use the name. However, you cannot register a fictitious name that conflicts with an already-registered name. In Pennsylvania, trade name registration is handled by the Department of State and requires two parts: submitting an application and publishing your fictitious name in the county in which you will do business.

Step 1

Go to the Pennsylvania Department of State website. Click on "Corporations" and then on "Name Availabilities." Enter the trade name you wish to register to determine if it is available.

Step 2

Download a copy of the Pennsylvania Application for Registration of Fictitious Name. On the Pennsylvania Department of State website, click on "Corporations" and then on "Forms." Under "Form Names," click on the link to the "Registration of Fictitious Name" to download the form.

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Step 3

Complete the Pennsylvania Application for Registration of Fictitious Name. This application requires your name, the trade name you want to register, the purpose of the entity and the names of anyone else who is a party to the fictitious name. For example, if you're registering the name on behalf of an entity, such as a corporation, you need to include the entity's contact information as well.

Step 4

Mail the completed form along with the fee to the Pennsylvania Department of State, Corporation Bureau, P.O. Box 8722, Harrisburg, PA 17105-8722. The department of state typically takes between seven and 10 business days to process applications.

Step 5

Publish your intent to use a fictitious name on or before the date you register your name. When you register a fictitious name, in 54 Pa.C.S. ยง 311(g) of the Pennsylvania Code, it is provided that an entity, which includes an individual party, must officially publish the intent to use the fictitious name in the county that is the entity's principal place of business. The notice needs to include the fictitious name, the address of the place of business, the names of the people who registered the name and a statement saying you applied or will be applying for a fictitious name. In Pennsylvania, "officially publish" requires publication in two English-language newspapers. If there's only one in the county, that one is sufficient. You do not need to submit copies of the publications, but should keep them for your records.

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