Maine is considered the best place to start a business in New England. The state offers abundant job opportunities in diverse industries like logging, farming, fishing, and shipbuilding. Maine is also known for its business-friendly environment, particularly for small businesses, and it boasts a low crime rate, making it a safe place to do business.
When doing business in Maine, having good products alone won’t be enough. It will also help to have a catchy and memorable business name that will attract customers and leave a lasting impression on them.
However, business names tend to be restricted by their structures and what they’ve been registered as during formation. Sole proprietorships and general partnerships, for instance, are required to use their owners’ names as business name. This effectively limits their business’s ability to present a memorable brand to potential customers.
Thankfully, there’s a way to use another name for your business: DBAs.
What Is a DBA?
A DBA, which stands for “doing business as,” is a fictitious name businesses can use for several purposes. DBAs are used mainly to help your business establish its brand. They do not replace your business’s legally-registered name, and they are not separate entities either. They are aliases you can register so you can operate your business using a different name.
DBAs are called differently according to state. Some states refer to them as “fictitious names,” “fictitious business names,” or “trade names.” Maine refers to DBAs as “assumed names.”
What Are The Advantages Of A DBA In Maine?
Assumed names give you and your business certain benefits that could make it easier for you to attract more customers. They also make managing some things easier as well. Here’s a quick look at the advantages DBAs give:
Helps your branding
DBAs allow you to use names you prefer and help you establish your business’s brand easier. Without DBAs, you are restricted to using the legal name registered during your business formation. However, with DBAs, you can choose names that better reflect your business’s identity and the services you offer.
More privacy for your
DBAs can be used to add a layer of privacy to the public-facing aspects of your business. This is especially useful for sole proprietorships and general partnerships. Instead of using their personal names on promotional materials like posters and flyers, they can use the DBA name they registered with the state. This adds a layer of privacy and helps protect their personal identity from being widely disclosed.
Makes diversifying easier
If you plan to try your hand at offering new products and services, DBAs can help you. Instead of forming a new company to promote and focus on a new product line, you can simply file a DBA for this new venture and list it under your existing business. This will help you expand your offerings without having to form a new business entity.
Used in franchising
If you’re thinking of buying a franchise from a popular chain, you’ll need a DBA for it. For instance, if you purchase a franchise from the well-known fast food chain Pat’s Pizza, based in Orono, Maine, you first register it with a name like “Pat’s Pizza Franchise 17 Augusta.” After that, you file a DBA to use the simpler name “Pat’s Pizza” for your business.
Better banking experience
Maine doesn’t require all adventurers to apply for DBA, but banks do. DBAs help you separate your business finances from your personal ones. If you have multiple ventures with different DBAs, you can open separate bank accounts for each of them. This is beneficial because it prevents mixing your business funds, reducing the risk of financial complications and ensuring better financial management.
What Are The Disadvantages Of A DBA In Maine?
DBAs do not have serious disadvantages that could negatively affect your business. They do have some limitations, however. Below are some of them.
It doesn’t protect your assets
DBAs do not provide your personal assets with protection against lawsuits. If your business gets sued for valid reasons like negligence and loses the case in court, you can be forced to pay penalties and other dues using your personal assets. For sole proprietors and partnerships, insurance is key to protecting your assets, not a DBA.
While DBAs need to be unique and as creative as possible, they still have to abide by Maine’s naming requirements, which prohibit the use of the following:
- Obscenities and foul language
- Words or terms implying or indicating that your business was created for illegal purposes
- Words or terms normally used for governmental agencies, such as “FBI,” “Secretary of State,” “Treasury,” “Justice Department,” and so on.
- Words or terms normally used for financial institutions such as “bank.” “banc,” “credit union,” “trust,” and so on. You can only use these if you have approval from the Maine Bureau of Financial Institutions
- Words or suffixes indicating our client’sclients’ business structure, such as “Corporation,” “Incorporated,” “Corp.,” and “Inc.”
How To Get A DBA In Maine
The process to get DBAs in Maine depends on your business’s structure. But don’t worry too much, as it is straightforward and easy to understand. Here’s what you need to do to get a DBA in Maine:
If you run a Sole Proprietorship or General Partnership:
First, visit the Maine Secretary of State’s website to verify if the preferred name you want is available. After verifying the name’s availability, visit the Maine Secretary of State to search for the city clerk’s office near your business. You must complete the necessary form and submit it to the city clerk’s office so that it can be registered.
Sole proprietorships and partnerships have separate application forms. You have to fill out the correct form and submit it, lest your application be rejected. These forms are:
- Assumed Name form for Sole Proprietorships
- Assumed Name form for Partnerships
Maine also requires you to notarize the forms. Also, do not forget to pay the filing fee. Maine DBAs cost $10 each.
If you run an LLC, Corporation, or other incorporated business:
Similar to the steps above, visit the Maine Secretary of State website to check if the preferred name you want is available. Prepare several names so you have alternatives.
For incorporated or LLC businesses in Maine, DBAs have to be filed with the Maine Secretary of State’s office. You will need to complete the correct form, which varies with your business structure. Submit the form to the office, along with your payment for the filing fee.
It’s important to note that in Maine, assumed names are different from fictitious names. The assumed name refers to a regular DBA. Fictitious names, on the other hand, are used by businesses that are not from Maine and whose DBAs are no longer available in the state.
How Much Does A DBA Cost In Maine?
Filing fees vary with business structure, as well as the type of DBA applied for.
- For sole proprietors and general partnerships – $10
- Assumed name for incorporated businesses – $125
- Fictitious names for people in Maine – $40
Sole proprietorships and general partnerships will have to spend a bit more to notarize the paperwork. Maine DBAs, once registered, do not expire and do not need renewal.
Frequently Asked Questions About A DBA
Here are the most commonly asked questions about forming a DBA:
Maine typically takes around 10-15 business days to completely process DBAs. The state doesn’t offer expedited service.
Yes. You can have more than one DBA in Maine as long as you process them correctly and pay the required filing fee.
In any case, each DBA allows you to operate under a different business name, which is helpful if you have multiple business lines or want to expand into different markets. This flexibility enables you to manage and promote each venture independently, making it easier to connect with your target audience and grow your business in various directions.
Yes. Contact the Maine Bureau of Corporations, Elections, and Commissions
Yes. The process to cancel depends on the structure of your business.
- For sole proprietorships and general partnerships, you need to complete the DBA Withdrawal Application form and then submit it to the city clerk’s office where your DBA was first registered.
- For incorporated businesses, you need to fill out the correct form and then submit it to the Maine Secretary of State.