DBA In North Carolina (NC)

Doing Business As (DBA) is a commonly used term in the business world. North Carolina provides a framework for businesses to operate under a different name through the DBA registration process. DBA allows entrepreneurs to conduct business using a name different from their legal entity’s name. 

Understanding the process and benefits of obtaining a DBA in NC is crucial for any business owner or aspiring entrepreneur. By delving into the details of DBA registration, you can make informed decisions that align with your business goals. Knowing the advantages and disadvantages of a DBA will help you determine whether it is the right option for your NC-based venture. 

Ready to get started? Let’s explore what a DBA is, its advantages, potential drawbacks, and the steps involved in obtaining one in North Carolina.


What is DBA?


What are the advantages of a DBA?


What are the disadvantages of a DBA?

DBA Formation

What are the steps to starting a DBA?


What is the cost of forming a DBA?


Should you choose DBA after all?


What Is a DBA?

A DBA refers to a legal term that indicates that a business is operating under a name other than its legal entity’s name. In NC, DBA is commonly known as the “Assumed Name” or “Trade Name.” It allows you to use a fictitious or alternate name for the flexibility to create a distinct brand identity.

By obtaining a DBA in North Carolina, you can effectively operate and conduct transactions using a name other than your legal entity’s name. This can be advantageous for marketing or when targeting specific niches within the market.

It’s important to note that a DBA does not create a separate legal entity. Instead, it allows you to operate under an assumed name while maintaining your original legal structure. The legal and financial responsibilities of the business remain tied to the underlying entity rather than the DBA itself.

Understanding this distinction is vital to avoid misconceptions. A DBA is not equivalent to forming a new business entity, such as a North Carolina limited liability company (LLC) or a corporation. It is a way to conduct business under a different name without going through the process of creating a separate legal structure.


What Are The Advantages Of A DBA In NC?

Being able to choose a name that is relevant and captures your brand essence is of utmost importance when doing business in NC. Taking advantage of DBA registration offers numerous advantages, from cost-effective options to flexible naming options.

Flexibility in choosing a business name

NC DBAs allow you to choose a name that aligns with your branding and marketing strategies. In this way, you are able to choose a name that resonates with your target audience and communicates the nature of your products effectively. You may benefit from this flexibility if you find that your legal entity’s name doesn’t accurately reflect your offerings.

For instance, a tech startup in Charlotte specializing in developing innovative mobile applications. Registered as “InnovateTech Solutions,” conveying their commitment to cutting-edge technology and problem-solving. This descriptive name captures potential clients’ attention and positions them as a leader in the competitive tech industry.

Cost-effective alternative to forming a new legal entity

Compared to forming a new legal entity, NC DBAs are generally a more cost-effective option. Creating a new business entity, such as an LLC involves filing for compliance requirements. On the other hand, registering a DBA incurs relatively lower expenses, making it an attractive choice for entrepreneurs with limited resources or those who wish to test the market before committing to a formal legal structure.

Enhanced privacy for sole proprietors

Sole proprietors often appreciate the enhanced privacy that a DBA provides. Without a DBA, sole proprietors typically operate under their legal name, which may compromise personal privacy. Registering a DBA allows you to conduct business transactions using a distinct name, minimizing the need to disclose your unique identity in various business interactions. This added layer of privacy can help protect personal information and create a more professional image for your business.


What Are The Disadvantages Of A DBA In NC?

NCA DBA offers many benefits, but it’s essential to consider the potential drawbacks before registering. It is crucial to understand these disadvantages to make an informed decision regarding the structure and operations of your business.

Potential confusion with other businesses using the same or similar name

Registering a DBA does not grant exclusive rights to the chosen name. Other businesses in North Carolina can use the same or similar name, leading to potential confusion among customers. This can dilute brand recognition, impact marketing efforts, and create challenges in establishing a distinct market presence. Conducting thorough research and trademark searches before selecting a DBA can help mitigate this risk, but it’s important to recognize that complete name uniqueness may only sometimes be achievable.

Limited ability to expand beyond state borders

A DBA is generally tied to a specific state and does not automatically grant you the ability to expand operations beyond state borders. Suppose your business plans involve expanding into other states or operating nationally. In that case, it may be necessary to register a DBA in each relevant state or consider forming a separate legal entity with a broader geographic reach. This can entail additional costs, paperwork, and compliance obligations, which may pose challenges for businesses with ambitious expansion plans.

Difficulty in obtaining business loans or credits

Having a DBA may present hurdles when securing business loans or establishing lines of credit. Financial institutions often prefer dealing with legal entities that offer more robust legal structures, such as LLCs or corporations. Lenders may be more cautious with a DBA due to the lack of separate legal identities and limited liability protection. Consequently, businesses operating solely under a DBA may need help obtaining favorable loan terms or accessing larger amounts of capital.

DBA Formation

How To Get A DBA In NC

If you’ve decided that obtaining a DBA in NC is the right choice for your business, here are the essential steps involved in the registration process:

Research and choose a unique business name

Before registering a DBA, conducting thorough research is crucial to ensure the chosen business name is unique and not already used by another NC entity. Consider brainstorming multiple name options and selecting one that aligns with your brand identity and captures the essence of your business.

Conduct a name availability search

Once you have selected a potential DBA name, the North Carolina Secretary of State’s website provides a search tool to check the availability of your chosen business name. This search confirms whether the name is currently in use or if it conflicts with existing trademarks or registered entities.

File a DBA registration with the North Carolina Secretary of State

To officially register your DBA in NC, you must file a registration with the Secretary of State’s office. The registration form, typically available on their website, requires information such as your legal entity name, the proposed DBA name, and contact details.

Publish a notice of the DBA in a local newspaper

After filing the DBA registration, it is a legal requirement in North Carolina to publish a notice of the DBA in a newspaper in the county where your business is located. The notice should contain relevant information, such as the legal entity name, the DBA name, and the business address.

Renewing and maintaining the DBA registration

DBA registrations in North Carolina typically have a limited duration and must be renewed periodically. Ensure that you keep track of the expiration date of your DBA registration and submit the necessary renewal forms and fees to the Secretary of State’s office to maintain your DBA status.


How Much Is A DBA In NC?

When considering the financial implications of obtaining a DBA in NC, it’s important to account for the registration fee and any additional costs associated with publishing the required notice. The Secretary of State’s office charges a fee of $26 for registering a DBA. When making your budget for your DBA application, allocate funds for this fee.

In addition to the registration fee, additional costs may be associated with publishing the required notice of the DBA in a local newspaper. The specific expenses can vary depending on the publication you choose and the duration of the notice. Local newspapers typically have advertising rates, so it’s advisable to contact them directly to inquire about the cost of publishing the DBA notice in compliance with North Carolina state laws.


Obtaining a DBA in NCa allows businesses to operate under a different name while maintaining their original legal structure. In summary, we discussed the advantages, such as flexibility in choosing a business name, cost-effectiveness, and enhanced privacy for sole proprietors. 

However, it’s important to consider the potential disadvantages, confusion with similar names, limited ability to expand, and challenges in obtaining loans or credit. Ultimately, businesses should make informed decisions based on their specific circumstances, weighing the benefits and considerations of a DBA in NC.