How to Get a Kentucky DBA Name

Although filing for a DBA is similar nationwide, there are specific rules to follow when getting a Kentucky DBA. Read on to learn more.
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Carlos Serrano
Written by Carlos Serrano
Written byCarlos Serrano
Updated January 18, 2024
Edited by Alexis Konovodoff
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A Kentucky DBA stands for a doing-business-as name. There are many other terms for this concept, like trade name and fictitious business name, but they all mean the same. You use a DBA if you want to operate under a different name from your entity or personal name, and this article will tell you how to register one.

DBA in Kentucky: Key Takeaways

  • You’re not legally required to get a DBA in Kentucky, but it can streamline your business in many ways.

  • You file Kentucky DBA paperwork at the county and state levels.

  • A DBA doesn’t change your tax status or ownership structure.

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What Is a DBA?

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), a DBA is a different name from your personal or entity name under which you operate.[1] There are many other terms for a DBA, including trade name, assumed name, and fictitious business name.

You generally register a DBA if you’re a sole proprietor who doesn’t want to operate under their personal name or wish to market your company under a more appropriate name. For example, let’s say you sell home equipment and want to start a separate line of gardening tools. Rather than use “Dawson LLC,” you can get a “Dawson Gardening” DBA to promote yourself effectively.

Knowing what a DBA is matters, but knowing what a DBA isn’t is just as important. For instance, many consider a DBA a business structure. In reality, your trade name has nothing to do with your ownership structure.

Instead, your business structure is determined upon registering your company through the necessary filing paperwork. Filing for a DBA won’t impact how your company operates, nor will it change which licenses you need to obtain.

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How to File a DBA in Kentucky

Whether you’re starting your first company or looking to optimize the operations of an existing enterprise, filing a Kentucky assumed name or DBA is straightforward.

The first step in getting your Kentucky DBA is similar to choosing your business entity name. You need to check if the desired name is available. 

Our business name search tool analyzes Kentucky databases in detail to let you know in minutes whether or not the name is taken.

Free Kentucky Business Name Search

Enter your desired Kentucky company name to see if it is available with our free business name search.

Once you find an available DBA, you must act fast and move on to the remaining stages as soon as possible. The faster you complete the registration, the faster you can trademark your trade name, keeping others from using the same name.

You might think, “Doesn’t a DBA automatically give me trademark protection?” The answer is no. Your DBA is no different from your entity name in this respect. You must file a trademark request with the United States Patent and Trademark Office to trademark your DBA.

Step 2 — File a Fictitious Business Name Statement

The second step is to submit your fictitious business name statement. This document notifies the state of Kentucky that you’ll be doing business under a different name. As a result, you submit it to the Secretary of State.

Here’s how to do so:

  1. Go to the official government website, which leads you to the Certificate of Assumed Name form.

  2. Provide the requested information, including the assumed name and your official business name.

  3. Specify your business structure, such as general partnership, foreign limited partnership, or domestic limited liability company.

  4. Sign the document and submit it online, or send it to the Secretary of State at the following address:

Office of the Secretary of State

PO Box 718

Frankfort, KY 40602-0718

Kentucky Secretary of State — 502-564-3490

You can also deliver the document in person at this address:

Room 154, Capitol Building

Office of the Secretary of State

700 Capital Avenue

Frankfort, KY 40601

Whatever the method, you must pay a $20 state filing fee.

Step 3 — File Your DBA With the County Clerk’s Office

After submitting your fictitious business statement, you need to file for your DBA with the county clerk’s office. The process is relatively straightforward whether you’re in Lexington, Fayette County, or any other area.

You must fill out the necessary form and mail it to your town hall or deliver it in person. Most counties require the following information:

  • Trade name

  • Real name

  • Name of the owner

  • Signature of the owner and notary

  • Date of filing

The filing fees vary but expect to pay between $20 and $30 to register your DBA. You can find more information by contacting your county clerk. If you’re not sure how to get in touch with their office, look it up on the Kentucky County Clerk’s Association website.

Step 4 — Publish Your DBA Name

Now that your DBA is up and running, a local publication comes into play.

To publish your DBA name means to announce it in a local newspaper. You can choose any outlet as long as it’s in the same county as your enterprise. Get in touch with the preferred provider, and they’ll usually require the following information:

  • Legal name of your business

  • Trade name

  • Owner name(s)

Do this once a week for two weeks, and you’ll inform the public about your assumed name. This will eliminate confusion regarding using multiple names and keep others from registering the same DBA.

After publishing your trade name for the second time, the newspaper will provide a publication affidavit to submit to your county clerk.

Step 5 — Follow Up

In some states, a DBA lasts indefinitely. Kentucky isn’t one of those states. After registering a DBA, you can use the name for five years before it expires.[2] 

To renew the trade name, download and submit the Certificate of Renewal of Assumed Name form. The address is the same one you used when handing in the original request, and the state fee is $20.  

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Kentucky DBA Name Restrictions

Just because a DBA is free doesn’t mean it’s legitimate. It needs to abide by Kentucky naming requirements:

  • Can’t be the same or similar to your real entity name or another company's business name

  • Must not contain words or phrases that may make people confuse your enterprise for a government organization, such as the FBI, Secret Service, Department of Transport, or Department of Education

  • Must not contain the term “cooperative” unless approved by your county clerk or the Secretary of State

  • Must not contain words like university, attorney, bank, or insurance company unless you operate as that legal entity and have special licenses and staff

  • Can’t include designations that may make others think you’ve changed your business structure. 

DBA Kentucky Tax Considerations

Adding a DBA is a significant change, but it’s not an overhaul. More specifically, it doesn’t amend your tax structure. If you operate under a particular tax system, you’ll continue to do so even after registering a trade name.

The IRS, much like any other government body, will refer to your company by its full registered name, and having one or more DBAs won’t affect that.

Why Should You Get a DBA?

You don’t stand to lose anything if you register a DBA. On the contrary, you can streamline your business in a number of ways with a fictitious name:

  • Eliminates the need to start a new company: If you wish to start selling a product or service unrelated to your original company, filing for a DBA can ensure proper branding without forming another enterprise.

  • Protects your personal assets: A great way to separate your company and personal property is to open a business bank account; however, many Kentucky banks require a DBA. Getting a trade name lays the groundwork for personal liability protection in case of losses.

  • Elevates privacy: Without a DBA, sole proprietors would need to operate under their personal names, undermining their privacy. A simple way to avoid privacy issues is to register a fictional name.

Register Your Kentucky DBA in Minutes
  • Gain Privacy: Hide your personal name and details when marketing your business.

  • Improve Branding: Choose a DBA that easily informs your audience about what you have to offer.

  • Expand Services: Operate multiple businesses without creating separate entities for each one.

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What’s the difference between an LLC and a DBA?

An LLC is a specific business structure, and a DBA is simply an alias of the company under which you do business.

How much does getting a DBA cost?

The cost of Kentucky DBA filing is $20.

Do I need a DBA for my Kentucky business?

No. You don’t need a DBA for your Kentucky business, but consider getting one if you wish to protect your privacy or launch a different product or service.

What’s the difference between a trade name, assumed name, and a DBA name?

Trade name, assumed name, and DBA mean the same. They’re different terms for the same concept.

How long does a DBA last?

In Kentucky, a DBA lasts for five years before you need to renew it.

Is there a limit to the number of DBA names I can have?

No. The number of DBA names you can have is limitless, regardless of the type of business it represents.

Is a DBA the same as a trademark?

No. A trademark prevents other business owners from using your products or services unless specifically authorized. A DBA doesn’t provide any legal protection for your company name or brand.

Does a DBA affect my business’s tax status?

A DBA doesn’t change your tax status. You’re taxed under the same structure whether or not you have a trade name.


  1. SBA. “Choose your business name.” Accessed October 9, 2023.

  2. Commonwealth of Kentucky. “Certificate of Assumed Name.” Accessed October 10, 2023.

Originally published on January 18, 2024, and last edited on January 18, 2024.
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