A Doing Business As certificate Massachusetts allows you to conduct business under a name other than your own legal name or the legal name of your registered business. If you register a doing business as (DBA) name for your business, it serves as an additional legal name rather than replacing your original name. The DBA name is also called an assumed name, fictitious business name, or trade name. Registering a DBA name doesn't change the tax status of your business.

Choosing a Name

If you registered your business as Best Coffee Company and want to instead do business as Boston's Best Roasters, you'll need to file a DBA name. This can be done at either the local, county, or state level in most states. However, in Massachusetts, you must register a DBA in your local municipality. If you also plan to do business in Boston, you must also register for a Boston DBA or risk a monthly fine until you do so.

First, you need to check with the Massachusetts Secretary of State database to make sure the name you want isn't already taken by another business. Boston and some counties maintain a local database. You should also check with the United States Patent and Trademark Office to ensure the name doesn't infringe on an existing registered trademark.

If the name you want is taken, choose an alternate name. Try to select a professional name that will help build your business's brand and reputation.

Keep in mind that a DBA certificate does not keep others from using the same business name. You must file state registration of the name and/or a federal trademark application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Registering for a DBA Certificate

Chapter 110, Section 5 of the Massachusetts General Laws requires a DBA name to be registered by any individual or partnership conducting business in the state unless the people in question are doing so under their legal names. Failure to register a business name can result in a fine.

The required forms are quite simple to complete. The exact form varies by location. You can either get them from the county clerk's office in person or by mail. Information requested by the DBA form includes:

  • Your full legal name
  • The full legal name of your business, if applicable
  • Your mailing address
  • The address where your business will operate
  • Your phone number
  • The requested DBA name

You may also need to include information about the owners of your business and the type of business entity.

The form must be notarized and can be submitted in person or by mail. You will need to provide proper ID. Depending on your county, the DBA name is good for up to five years.

Forms for DBA names in Boston can be mailed to:

OFFICE OF THE CITY CLERK, 1 CITY HALL SQUARE

ROOM 601, ATTN: BUSINESS CERTIFICATES

BOSTON, MA 02201

UNITED STATES

Additional Business Registration Requirements

Your county or city may have additional business registration requirements. Check with your local county clerk office for details. You can also visit the office to get a business registration form worker's compensation insurance affidavit for your business if required. If you do not have employees, just check the required box on the form. Some counties have a website where you can download required business forms. Filing fees range from $20 to $50 depending on your location.

You can be fined up to $300 per month if you do business without a DBA certificate when you are required to have one. The certificate is part of the public record and will be made available to anyone who makes a request.

Making Changes to Your Business

Before your business expires, you must complete a Statement of Discontinuance, Change of Residence Form in these circumstances:

  • You are closing the business.
  • One of the owners of your business is retiring or withdrawing from the business.
  • One of the owners dies.
  • An owner's residence changes.
  • The business location changes.

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