Trade Name (DBA)
Please Note: If you are seeking to register your business name as a Corporation, Nonprofit, MBE, LLC, or Partnership (General, LLP, or LP), the Trade Name (DBA) Registration is NOT your first step. Please select your intended business type from the “Start or Register a Business” menu on the left.
Trade, Fictitious, or DBA Names
If you are a Vermont resident that is doing business in this state, the simplest way to meet the registration requirements of state law is to register a trade, or “doing business as” (DBA), name.
Your trade name registration informs the public of who you are and what kind of business you are in, as well as giving you some degree of name protection. This type of registration is used by individuals, associations of individuals, partnerships of individuals, or single business entities (e.g. corporations, nonprofits, LLCs, etc.) that intend to “do business” under an additional or different business name.
“Trade Name” vs. “Business Name”
The term “trade name” is often used synonymously with the broader term “business name,” which may be applied to any business structure (e.g. corporation, LLC, partnership, etc.). However, the term “trade name,” for the purpose of Vermont business registration, specifically refers to the business type also known as “fictitious name,” “assumed name,” or “doing business as (DBA) name.”
Exemptions to the Registration Requirement
Under Vermont law, 11 V.S.A. § 1621, individuals are not required to register a trade name with our office if they are doing business with the public under a business name that includes their full legal name, e.g. “John Smith Carpentry” or “John C. Smith Carpentry.”
- Despite this exemption, and to meet internal business risk processes, many vendors and banks may still require you to register your business name with our office.
- You may not register JUST your personal legal name as a business name.
- This means that the business name and an individual owner's cannot match, i.e. the business name "John C. Smith" may not be registered as being owned by a "John C. Smith" or a "John Smith," or vice versa.
- This is not a restriction on what are known as "pen names" for writers or "professional names" for other fields - so long as your pen name is not the same as your own personal legal name.
Foreign (Non-Vermont) Trade Names Doing Business in Vermont
Under Vermont law, there is no distinction between domestic and foreign trade names. If you do business in another state using a DBA, alternate name, fictitious name, or trade name, and seek to do business in Vermont, you simply register as a new trade name (DBA).
Business Name of a Trade Name
There are no standard words or phrases required to be part of the business name of a trade name. However, the business name of a trade name may not include any word, phrase, or abbreviation that falsely implies that it is the business name of a business type other than that of a trade name.
This restriction includes the following words and phrases, as well as any abbreviation thereof: "corporation," "incorporated," "company," "limited," "professional corporation," "professional association," "service corporation," "cooperative," "mutual benefit enterprise," "limited liability company" (includes "LC," "LLC," "PLC," & "L3C"), "limited liability partnership" (includes "RLLP" & "LLP), or "limited partnership."
Ownership of a Trade Name
The ownership of a trade name may be one or more individual persons (11 V.S.A. § 1621) or a single business entity (11 V.S.A. § 1623). To register multiple business entities under one business name, please see General Partnerships.
Trade Name Law
Please visit 11 V.S.A. Ch.15 of the Vermont Statutes Online for more information.
Please see “Fees & Filings” for the costs of trade name registration.
Duration of Registration
Once registered, you must renew your trade name registration every five years. For renewal information, please see “Renewals.”
STOP: Before you get started, we recommend that you consult with an attorney, accountant, or business advisor about which business type is best for you.
Do not invest in websites, signs, business cards, or other marketing materials until you receive a certificate confirming the availability and your ownership of the requested name.
The state of Vermont operates under a “deceptively similar” standard. Under this standard, if the requested name is too similar to an already registered name, such that it would confuse the public as to whom they are dealing with, it will be rejected.
Online registration is the preferred method. There is no extra fee and turnaround times are much faster. For information and instructions about online registration, please see our Online Registration Guide. To begin your online registration, please visit the Online Business Service Center:
Registration by Mail
For trade names to be owned by one or more individuals:
To register a trade name (DBA) of a person, partnership, associations of individuals, or mutual benefit association (MBE) under the individual name(s) of all persons, general partners, members, or MBE directors seeking to do business under this name, please use the Trade Name Registration (Individuals) form.
For trade names to be owned by a business entity:
To register a trade name (DBA) under the business name of a corporation, nonprofit, LLC/PLC/L3C, general partnership, LLP, or LP, please use the Trade Name Registration (Business Entities) form.
Note 1: Under 11 V.S.A. § 1623, only one business entity may own a Trade Name at one time (all previously approved examples to the contrary are grandfathered). To register multiple business entities as owners of a single business name, please see General Partnerships.
Note 2: To own a Trade Name, the business entity itself must first be registered with the Corporations Division.