A Delaware DBA search can help you learn if a business operates under an assumed name. Performing such a search is also important if you're considering registering a DBA name and don't want to infringe on another business's name.

Different Delaware Business Names

Before you perform a Delaware DBA search, it's crucial that you understand that there's a difference between the trade name that a business uses and its legal name. Clarifying this issue will prevent you from wasting time on your search.

The most important part of forming a Delaware business entity is choosing an original business name that doesn't conflict with another business's registered name. In addition to this legal name, businesses can also choose another name that it wants associated with its business, which is known as a DBA.

Just as with a business's legal name, a DBA name must be unique. The difference is that you register a DBA at the county level instead of the state level. For instance, if your DBA is already registered in one county, you could not use your name in this location. You could, however, use the name in another county if it is available. You will register your DBA name at the county courthouse, so this is the first place you should visit if you're trying to determine if your desired name is available.

In Delaware, you can perform a DBA search using the Delaware judiciary's website. This website's database contains every DBA name registered in the state. All you need to do is visit the website and use a keyword to search the database. If your search reveals any registered names, you can click on a name to reveal the parent company that registered and is using the trade name.

When a business files a DBA registration, it must include parent company information. If you click on a name during your search and find there is no business entity name included, it usually means that a sole proprietor has registered the trade name. Although sole proprietorships are not legally distinct entities like corporations, you are still prohibited from using the registered DBA name.

Why Should You Register a DBA?

Filing a DBA registration can provide a variety of benefits. First and foremost, when registering a DBA, you will be legally allowed to do business with a fictitious name at a low cost. Once you have registered your DBA name, you'll be able to:

  • Accept payments under your assumed name.
  • Advertise with your fictitious name.
  • Present your business with this name.

If you don't file a DBA registration, doing business with any name other than your legal name could constitute fraud.

When running a sole proprietorship or partnership, you must transact business using either your name or a partner's name if you have not completed a DBA registration. A DBA name makes it easier to keep your personal and professional lives separate. For instance, after registration, you could open a bank account using your fictitious name, making it easier to keep business and personal finances separate.

If you want to register a DBA name, you will need to file a Registration of Trade, Business & Fictitious Name Certificate. You should file this document in every county where you wish to use your DBA name. Make sure to have your application notarized before you attempt filing. Companies that do not do business in Delaware but have registered in the state will usually only need to complete one DBA registration. If your company matches this description, file your application in the same county where your registered agent resides.

Most states require a DBA registration if you want to do business under an assumed name. For example, if you're running a restaurant as a sole proprietor, filing a DBA registration would allow you to operate your establishment as Joe's Eatery.

A registered business entity such as a limited liability company or a corporation may want to use a DBA for several different reasons. For instance, if the entity wants to do business in a new state but their legal name doesn't fit the state's naming requirements, having a DBA name could make foreign qualification easier. A company could also use a DBA name if their legal name is already registered in the new state

If you need help with a Delaware DBA search, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.