North Dakota DBA

If you’re a small business owner and sole proprietor, a DBA in North Dakota may be the perfect solution for your business needs. The state of North Dakota allows business owners to register a Doing Business As (DBA) name, making it easier for businesses to operate under a different name than their legal one. 

Let’s dive into how a North Dakota DBA works, the pros and cons of having one, how to go about getting it, and other important details that will help you make an informed decision on whether or not registering a DBA is right for your business.


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?


Frequently asked questions


What Is a DBA?

A DBA, or “Doing Business As,” is a legal designation that individuals and businesses use to operate under an assumed name. In North Dakota, the Secretary of State’s office handles all DBA registrations.

The requirements for a North Dakota DBA are the same as in other states. An individual or business must register with the Secretary of State’s office and submit a DBA application that includes the new name, contact information, and any other necessary documents.

Additionally, as with other states, a North Dakota DBA must be used in all legal business transactions and documents. This includes contracts, advertising materials, invoices, bank accounts, and more.


What are the Advantages of a DBA in North Dakota?

Here are the advantages of a North Dakota DBA:


Compared to forming a separate legal entity like a corporation or LLC, obtaining a DBA in North Dakota is generally more cost-effective. The lower filing fees and reduced administrative requirements make it an attractive choice for startups and businesses with limited budgets.

Straightforward process

North Dakota offers a relatively straightforward and uncomplicated process for obtaining a DBA. The filing requirements are clear, and the application can be completed without excessive red tape, making it an accessible option for entrepreneurs and small business owners.

Flexibility for small businesses

Many small businesses and sole proprietors prefer the flexibility that a DBA provides. With a DBA, they can operate under a unique name without the need to establish a formal legal entity, which can be more suitable for ventures that do not require complex structures.

Brand recognition

A well-chosen DBA can help businesses build brand recognition and establish a strong presence in their local market. By creating a distinctive name that resonates with customers, businesses can gain a competitive edge and improve their chances of success.

Easier compliance

Operating under a DBA involves fewer compliance requirements compared to forming a North Dakota LLC or corporation. This can translate to reduced paperwork and administrative burden for business owners, allowing them to focus more on their core operations.

Rapid market entry

A DBA allows businesses to enter the market quickly without extensive legal formalities. This agility can be advantageous for businesses seeking to capitalize on emerging trends or time-sensitive opportunities.

No double taxation

Unlike certain business structures, such as corporations, a DBA does not incur double taxation. Business income is typically reported on the owner’s personal tax return, simplifying tax filings.


What are the Disadvantages of a DBA in North Dakota?

Of course, it’s best to know the drawbacks that are associated with a DBA in North Dakota:

No personal liability protection

Unlike corporations or LLCs, a DBA does not provide personal liability protection. This means that the business owner’s personal assets can be at risk in the event of legal disputes, debts, or other liabilities.

Limited legal structure

While a DBA offers flexibility, it lacks the formal legal structure and governance that corporations or LLCs provide. This can be a disadvantage for businesses with complex ownership arrangements or those seeking to raise capital through investors.

Bank account limitations

Some financial institutions may have specific policies or requirements regarding business accounts for entities operating under a DBA. Business owners may face difficulties in opening certain types of accounts or accessing financial services compared to formal legal entities.

Difficulty in raising capital

If a business operating under a DBA wishes to raise capital from investors, it may encounter challenges. Investors often prefer to invest in formal legal entities like corporations or LLCs due to the clearer ownership structure and liability protection.

Business name conflicts

Additionally, even after registering a DBA, businesses need to remain vigilant about potential name conflicts. If another company later claims trademark rights to a similar or identical name, the DBA holder may be required to change their business name, potentially resulting in rebranding expenses and customer confusion.

DBA Formation

How to Register for a DBA in North Dakota?

Here are the steps to apply for a North Dakota DBA:

  1. Choose a business name that is not already taken in the state of North Dakota. You can do this by searching the Business Entity Database on the Secretary of State’s website or by contacting them directly for help with your search. 
  2. File an application to register with North Dakota’s Secretary of State. The Application for Registration of Trade Name Form can be found online, and you will need to fill it out and submit it along with the registration fee.
  3. The Secretary of State will review your application and make sure it meets all necessary requirements for a DBA in North Dakota. 
  4. Once approved, you will receive an official “Certificate of Registration” from the Secretary of State office, which serves as proof that your business name has been registered with the state of North Dakota. 

With these steps completed, you can now legally conduct business under that name in North Dakota. It is important to note that even if you register a name, it doesn’t automatically mean that you own the trademark rights to this name, and should always do your research before using any business name. 

If you want to use your DBA name exclusively, you may want to consider filing for a trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). This will ensure that your name is legally protected and can’t be used by someone else.


How Much Does a DBA Cost in North Dakota?

Filing for a North Dakota DBA costs $25. It’s a one-time fee, and you can have your DBA up and running fairly quickly. Take note that it has an expiration, and you’ll need to renew it after five years. The Secretary of State will send you a renewal notice two to three months in the mail to remind you. 

You should also consider additional costs, such as:

  • Business Licenses: Depending on the type of business you’re operating and where it is located, you may need to obtain a business license. 
  • Professional Services: You may need to work with an attorney or accountant if your business requires special licensing or expertise. 
  • Software & Equipment: If your business needs specific software or hardware, these costs can add up quickly. 

When considering filing for a North Dakota DBA, make sure to research the associated costs and expenses so that you can make the best decision for your business.


Frequently Asked Questions About A DBA

Here are the most commonly asked questions about forming a DBA:

No, they’re not the same. A DBA allows you to conduct business under a different name than your own or that of your company. For example, if you want to start a business selling handmade jewelry and call it “Beautiful Beads,” but your legal name is Jane Doe, then you would need to register for a DBA in order to legally use the name “Beautiful Beads.” A sole proprietorship, on the other hand, is a business owned and operated by one individual with no distinction between the owner and the business. 

These two business structures are quite different, but they both offer certain advantages. A DBA allows you to conduct business under a name that is distinct from your own or the company’s, and it can also help protect your personal assets from any liabilities incurred by the business. A sole proprietorship, on the other hand, offers greater flexibility in terms of taxes and paperwork requirements.

No, if you are conducting business under your legal name, a DBA is not necessary. However, if you wish to operate under a different name, a DBA is required.

There are several advantages to registering a DBA. It allows you to create a unique business identity, which can help differentiate your services from competitors. Registering a DBA also simplifies the process of opening bank accounts and other financial transactions.

Using your legal name can also create problems if you decide to expand your business later on, as it may already be taken in other states. Additionally, you may face privacy issues if you are conducting business in your own name.

Yes, if you decide to change your DBA name, you will need to follow the necessary legal procedures and file an amendment with the North Dakota Secretary of State’s office. Include details such as your business’ current name, your new name, and any other relevant information. Depending on the situation, you may also need to notify local government offices or businesses of the change.

Some instances where you may need to change your DBA name are if you choose a different business structure, merge with another company, or decide to rebrand. The process for changing the DBA name is usually straightforward, though it will require some paperwork and fees.

As such, it’s important to research the requirements for changing your DBA name in advance, as well as any potential implications it may have on other aspects of your business. This includes factors such as taxes, customer contracts, and permits.