How to Get a Maryland DBA Name

There are specific guidelines for filing a DBA in Maryland. Discover the benefits of a fictitious business name and the process of obtaining one of your own.
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Swyft Filings is committed to providing accurate, reliable information to help you make informed decisions for your business. That's why our content is written and edited by professional editors, writers, and subject matter experts. Learn more about how Swyft Filings works, our editorial team and standards, what our customers think of us, and more on our trust page.

Catherine Cohen
Written by Catherine Cohen
Written byCatherine Cohen
Updated January 18, 2024
Edited by Zachary Ace Aiuppa
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When starting a business in Maryland, you’ll need a distinct name to register it. Along with your company’s official name, you can also get a DBA (doing business as) or fictitious business name.

Why would you need this? Well, suppose you’re branching out with new ventures. A DBA allows you to conduct affairs under a new brand name without registering another business. A DBA or trade name is also a good option if you want to focus on branding, marketing, and advertising.

Here, we’ll review Maryland DBA benefits and the process of obtaining one.

DBA in Maryland: Key Takeaways

  • A Maryland DBA allows you to conduct business under a fictitious, assumed name.

  • You’ll need to file for your DBA with the Department of Assessments and Taxation rather than with the Secretary of State. You can do this online, through the mail, or in person.

  • Corporations, LLCs, and general partnerships must register for a DBA if they intend to do business with anything other than their official registered name.

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What Is a DBA?

Before filing for an official DBA in Maryland, business owners should distinguish between what a DBA is and is not.

A DBA, trade name, or fictitious name is essentially an “alias” for your business. After you register your official company name with the Maryland Secretary of State, you can move on to filing for a DBA and use it legally while conducting your business.[1]

DBAs are especially beneficial if you prefer to use something other than your legal business name or want to focus your advertising on a different brand name.

Keep in mind that a DBA does not affect your business structure. Your business is a legal entity recognized by the state as an LLC (limited liability company), corporation (corporation), or other entity. A DBA is a separate legal name that you can use for marketing or advertising.

LLCs, partnerships, sole proprietors, and corporations must have a DBA if they intend to use anything other than their official legal name while conducting business.

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How to File a DBA in Maryland

Now that you know what a DBA is all about, you can move on to starting the filing process. In Maryland, this begins with searching for an assumed name before filing the statement with the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation (SDAT).[2]

This step is done differently in Maryland than in most states because Maryland requires filing with the Secretary of State. Once complete, you must also renew your DBA every five years. Let’s closely examine these steps and how to complete them correctly.

The first step of getting a DBA is similar to completing name registration for your business entity. You’ll need a unique trade name to ensure your application is accepted. This is one of the most critical steps of the process. Your application can get rejected if your chosen name is the same or confusingly similar to another trade name.

Consider using our free business name search tool to avoid this. You can also check for similar names with Maryland’s official business name search tool.

After completing a DBA name search, you must also complete a trademark search to ensure the name isn’t legally protected to prevent other companies from using it.

Also, remember that securing a DBA isn’t the same as trademark protection. It’s simply an alias for your business. We recommend obtaining legal advice to protect your DBA from other companies using it.

Step 2 — File a Fictitious Business Statement

So, you’ve done your name search and are ready to file for your DBA. You must file your fictitious business statement at the Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxation (SDAT) to do so. This is also known as a trade name application. After filling it out, you can file it with the Maryland Business Express Website.[3]

Remember that Maryland state law requires you to file for a DBA if you intend to use anything other than your official registered name. This goes for LLCs, corporations, partnerships, and sole proprietorships. We also recommend having your basic business information ready beforehand, as this will make filling out the application easier. You’ll need information like the owner’s name, tax ID, and type of business.

Once your application is ready, you must pay a $25 filing fee. Business owners can expect acceptance or rejection within two to three weeks. You can also pay an additional $50 pricing fee to expedite the process. This can take up valuable time, money, and resources, so consider using an online filing company to handle your Maryland DBA.

Step 3 — Follow Up

Once the Maryland State Department of Assessments & Taxation has approved your Maryland trade name, you can start using it in your advertising, branding, and marketing. However, don’t forget to maintain your assumed name too.

According to Maryland laws, your DBA will last five years. After this expiration date, you’ll need to complete a trade name amendment application and pay a $25 filing fee, with another $50 if you wish to expedite the process.

Maryland DBA Name Restrictions

It’s not enough for your trade name to be unique if you want it to pass DBA registration. It also must adhere to state laws on name restrictions. If you’re in the process of searching for a DBA name, then avoid using the following:

  • Words that include business formation suffixes and words such as LLC, Corp, incorporation, nonprofit, etc.

  • Words connected to financial institutions, including banks, credit union institutions, etc.

  • Words that can be confused with any governmental organization such as the FBI, CIA, treasury department, etc.[4]

Once again, remember that a DBA is just an alias. Your business entity is already defined by its registered name. There’s no need to use the abbreviation in your assumed name, too. Filing for a DBA also doesn’t give you trademark protection; it simply keeps others from registering the same name with the SDAT.[5]

DBA Maryland Tax Considerations

After you complete the DBA filing, you might wonder if there are any differences in your tax structure. However, that’s not the case. Since a DBA is an alias, it won’t change anything about your business’s taxing structure or regulations. Some examples include:

  • State taxes: Your tax obligations will stay the same when using a DBA in Maryland. This includes sales tax, income tax, or any other state-related tax. They’ll all stay based on your original entity.

  • Personal assets: If you have personal assets or liability protection, you won’t have to worry about a DBA changing that.

  • Federal taxes: Your federal tax obligations remain consistent with your original business type.

  • Identification: You won’t need a new tax ID if you start using a trade name.

Why Should You Get a DBA?

Now that you know the steps for obtaining a DBA in Maryland, you might wonder about the benefits this name could bring to your new business. Fortunately, a trade name can give your business many unexpected advantages, from finance to marketing and streamlining administration. Some of the main benefits include:

  • Better branding — Perhaps your company’s official name doesn’t reflect the brand message, tone, or identity you want to portray to your target audience. Companies frequently work on branding after official creation; a DBA can help with that. However, this name must differ from other assumed names in Maryland.

  • Multiple venture flexibility — Let’s say you want to start a new business venture alongside your previous one. While this can be profitable, business creation takes time and effort and is sometimes stressful. Instead of creating a new business formation, you can obtain an assumed name and use it for your separate venture.

  • Administrative consolidation and streamlining — When you adopt an assumed name, your administrative tasks for this name will be the same as with your previous business structure. That means you don’t have to legally appoint new executive members or file information about your new venture. As far as state law is concerned, you’re still only operating one business. This saves you the time, effort, and money that forming another business would drain.

  • Easier bookkeeping and finances — You can easily open a new business bank account for your new DBA, although it’s not necessary. This allows you to choose a consolidated financing approach and differentiate between multiple ventures.

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  • 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 limited liability company, legally falling into the category of an official business entity. LLCs protect the founder’s assets if a business acquires too much debt. On the other hand, a DBA (doing business as) is simply a fictitious, trade, or assumed alias for your business. Once the state approves your name, you can use it in marketing, advertising, and branding instead of your initially registered official name.

How much does getting a DBA cost?

That total cost will depend on the filing process. You’ll need to pay a $25 filing fee with your application. If you wish to expedite the process, that’s another $50. Likewise, you’ll need to renew that same DBA in Maryland every five years. Doing so requires another $25. Those who want to cancel their DBA can also fill out a trade name cancellation application, which will cost another $25. Business owners can pay using a credit card online or apply through the mail.

Do I need a DBA for my Maryland business?

This requirement can change from business to business. Though you don’t technically need an assumed name, it can be helpful. For example, a DBA allows you to create a new name for separate business ventures without starting a new business, saving you precious resources.

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

Technically, there isn’t a difference. These terms are used interchangeably through state documents.

How long does a DBA last?

A trade name in Maryland lasts five years before you renew it. You can complete the renewal process up to six months before your trade name expires.

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

Technically, you can have as many trade names as you want, provided you have at least one fully functional business entity. Just make sure to keep track of them all. Otherwise, you can end up losing one after the expiration date.

Is a DBA the same as a trademark?

No, a DBA is only registered with the state. This does not legally protect your name from other businesses using it. If you do want trademark protection, it’s best to seek legal advice for the process.

Does a DBA affect my business’s tax status?

Having a DBA does not change your business’s tax status or obligations in any way, shape, or form.


  1. Maryland Business Express. “Registration & Filings.” Accessed September 5, 2023.

  2. Justia, US LAW. “2013 Maryland Code CORPORATIONS AND ASSOCIATIONS § 1-406 - Trade names. Accessed September 5, 2023.

  3. Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation. “Charter Business Services - SDAT.” Accessed September 5, 2023.

  4. Maryland State Department of Assessments & Taxation. “Trade Name Application.” Accessed September 5, 2023.

  5. Maryland. Gov. “Trademarks & Service marks, Annotated Code of Maryland Business Regulation Article, Title 1, Subtitle 4.” Accessed September 5, 2023.

Originally published on November 16, 2023, and last edited on January 18, 2024.
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