How to Get a Michigan DBA Name

Using a DBA for your Michigan business can help accurately market your current offerings. Learn more about the state-specific guidelines on filing this fictitious name.
Detroit Downtown

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.

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
Share this guide

A “doing business as” (DBA) name lets any business operate under a name different from their legal name or the registered business entity name. This business strategy type also goes by a few different names itself — apart from DBA, you may also hear assumed names, trade names, or fictitious business names.

This article will tell you all you need to know about a Michigan DBA and how you, as a business owner, can get one for your own business.

DBA in Michigan: Key Takeaways

  • A DBA is not a business structure but allows you to conduct business under a different name than your legal name.

  • Filing for a DBA in Michigan involves a name search, filing paperwork with the county clerk’s office, and possibly publishing the name in a local newspaper.

  • Michigan has specific requirements and restrictions for DBA names, including the need for periodic renewal. 

Elevate Your Business Branding With a Michigan DBA

Protect your privacy and gain a new business name with our all-in-one DBA filing service.

Secure My DBA

What Is a DBA?

When you do business using a name different from your legal name or the officially registered name of your business entity, you’re “doing business as” (DBA) that other name. This is sometimes also called an assumed name, trade name, or fictitious business name.

While it’s a handy way to use a different name in business dealings, it doesn’t offer the same protections as forming an LLC or corporation and won’t change how your business is taxed. This is because a DBA is not a business structure but merely a nickname for the business.[1]

Suppose you own a bakery named “Jane’s Cakes,” and you want to expand this baking business by offering catering services too. In that case, you can file for a DBA or “doing business as” certification with the name “Jane’s Catering.” This way, you can offer these additional services to broader audiences without creating a new business entity and putting more financial burden on yourself.

Blue lakeshore in Michigan | Swyft Filings

How to File a DBA in Michigan

It’s time to discuss the filing process for a DBA for your Michigan business entity. It’s relatively simple but requires an eye for detail and careful consideration. Whether you’re a sole proprietor or a larger business entity, filing for a Michigan DBA involves a series of steps, including a business name search, filing an affidavit with the county clerk’s office, and paying the correct filing fees. Here are the steps you need to follow:

If you’re thinking of filing for a DBA, you’ll first want to make sure that the name you have in mind isn’t already in use. Even if two businesses can have the same name, this isn’t an ideal arrangement as it can lead to customer confusion and perhaps even legal issues if you wrongly end up in hot water. You can use our free business name search tool or Michigan’s business name resource to help you.

Michigan requires all sole proprietorships and partnerships to choose a distinct DBA name that meets state requirements. It’s always wise to check if a fitting domain name is still free, too, since having an easy-to-remember URL with your Michigan DBA makes marketing and branding much simpler.

Remember, though, even if your DBA name is unique, it doesn’t guarantee trademark protection. While the county clerk won’t register two DBAs with the same name in the county, there is no such restriction statewide. Businesses may still share the same DBA elsewhere. If you also wish to safeguard your DBA name, you must file for a trademark separately.

Step 2 — File a Fictitious Business Statement

When a business operates under a name other than the owner’s, many jurisdictions require it to submit a fictitious business name statement. This document guarantees transparency and serves to prevent any deceptions.

The statement includes business information such as:

  • The fictitious name to represent the business to the public

  • The business’s legal name and names of the business owner(s)

  • The business address and other business contact information

  • Business type, which defines if it is a sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation

  • County or state of filing, which specifies the jurisdiction

Michigan may not specifically refer to the DBA registration paperwork as a “Fictitious Business Name Statement,” but the paperwork the county clerk’s office expects you to fill out serves the same purpose.

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

A small business and a large corporation would need to go through different processes to get a DBA.[2] If you’re a sole proprietor or general partnership in Michigan, registering a DBA will involve obtaining a Certificate of Persons Conducting Business Under Assumed Name from the county clerk’s office where you will do business.

To get started, look at the Michigan State Association of County Clerks website, which lists all clerks across the state. Check both the county and state databases for DBA availability.

Once you find a perfect DBA name for your business, fill out the Certificate of Persons Conducting Business Under Assumed Name DBA form and submit it along with a $10 filing fee to the county clerk’s office, either via mail or in person. You can make payments using exact cash, money order, check, credit card, or debit card.

LLCs and corporations don’t file at the county level. Instead, they must go through different steps than sole proprietorships when acquiring a DBA. The same goes for for-profit corporations, non-profit corporations, limited partnerships, limited liability partnerships, limited liability companies, and foreign filing entities.

You’ll need to register your DBA on the state level with the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA), connected to the Michigan Secretary of State. You can do this online or by downloading and submitting a Certificate of Assumed Name form in a PDF.

Corporations and LLPs will pay $10 for the filing fee to the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Corporations division. Meanwhile, LLCs will be charged $25. You also have the option to expedite the process, but there are extra fees for it. If you want your registration done in an hour, you’re looking at paying $1,000, whereas getting it done in 24 hours only costs $200.

Step 4 — Publish Your DBA Name

You don’t have to announce your business name in a local paper in Michigan, but it’s a good idea if you want to build a professional reputation. Even if the state doesn’t necessitate it, your county clerk’s office can give you details about what rules and regulations to consider when publishing a DBA ad.

Most newspapers are familiar with these requirements and likely have space for those ads. All you need to do is send in your legal name, the DBA name you plan to use, and contact info. Prices depend on the frequency of the publication and the specific county. After agreeing with the terms, make sure all the information is correct. If something’s wrong or missing, contact the newspaper immediately.

Step 5 — Follow Up

Not all states require DBA renewal, but many do, including Michigan. In the state of Michigan, registering a DBA is only valid for a certain number of years. After it expires, you need to review and update your registration each time the period is up. Currently, the Michigan DBA registration will automatically expire after five years.[2]

Re-registering involves going through the same process and paying the equivalent fees. Double-check for any changes in either fee amounts or forms that may have been implemented since you first registered. If you don’t renew your DBA on time, it could lead to the same consequences as if you never registered at all — something no business owner wants.

Michigan DBA Name Restrictions

In Michigan, you’re not allowed to choose a business name or a DBA that may be confused with a government agency, such as the FBI or Treasury Department.

Additionally, names implying banking, insurance, surety, or trust companies are also restricted without specific approval from those agencies. Some words are also prohibited outright without approval — like “Bank,” “Deposit,” “Surety,” “Security,” “Trust,” and “Trust Company.”

You cannot use business structure designations (such as LLCs) that don’t match your actual type of business structure. Michigan has an extensive list of other disallowed words, so be sure to check this before you go ahead and register your new DBA.

Beyond these naming restrictions, remember that a DBA is not a business structure. It has certain limitations that don’t extend to actual business structures. For example, other businesses in the state may still use the same DBA as you, and there are no tax or financial benefits that may come with it.

DBA Michigan Tax Considerations

When you register a “doing business as” in Michigan, it doesn’t impact the tax structure of your company. A DBA is just used to change the name. It’s important to remember that filing a DBA does not create a separate legal entity; only your business structure, such as sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation, will do this.

This also means you don’t need a different Employer Identification Number (EIN). You’d only need to register a new EIN if you decided to form a separate legal entity.

Insurance isn’t obligatory for DBAs; however, insurance can protect you from financial losses from running a business. 

Why Should You Get a DBA?

Filing a DBA eliminates the hassle of forming a whole new business, so you can have a unique business identity without going through the business registration process again. DBAs also allow businesses to diversify their portfolio without registering multiple entities just to branch out.

Registering a DBA also provides privacy to a sole proprietorship or partnerships/co-partnerships. In a sole proprietorship, the business owner is the business name instead of the desired branding. 

On top of all that, most banks will ask new businesses to register a DBA first before being able to open up a business bank account with them. Last but not least, DBAs play an essential role in branding. When customers initially come across your business, the name is the first thing that stands out.

Register Your Michigan 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.

Secure My DBA


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

A Limited Liability Company (LLC) is a legal business structure that protects your personal possessions and has its own tax implications. A “doing business as” (DBA) is different; it’s not a separate legal entity but simply a name under which a business operates. It won’t give you the same protection as an LLC does, nor will it affect how the business pays taxes.[3]

How much does getting a DBA cost?

If you’re setting up a business in Michigan, the filing fee for a DBA will depend on the type of structure. If you’re a sole proprietor or have a partnership, you’ll just pay $10 to your county clerk. LLCs, LLPs, and corporations must file with the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA), which can range from $10 to $25.

Do I need a DBA for my Michigan business?

If you live in Michigan and want to do business under a name other than your own or the registered name of your business, then you’ll need to get a DBA (“doing business as”). Not every Michigan business needs to get one, but it could be necessary, depending on what you have in mind for advertising.

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

Businesses can give themselves a different name from their legal one. A trade name, assumed name, and “doing business as” (DBA) are all terms for the same thing. These names let companies operate under a different title than their official business name.

How long does a DBA last?

Once you’ve registered your DBA in Michigan, it’s valid for five years. If you want to keep doing business with that name after that time passes, you’ll need to go through the process of renewing your registration.

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

In Michigan, you don’t have any restrictions on how many “doing business as” names you can register. Remember that you must register each name individually, which will come with its own cost.

Is a DBA the same as a trademark?

Unfortunately, a DBA is not enough to shield you from trademark infringement. To protect your business’s name, you must file an official trademark application with the relevant government agency. This registration is entirely separate from filing for a DBA.

Does a DBA affect my business’s tax status?

When you assign a DBA name to your business, it doesn’t change the tax filing status. It’s just a label that you use for conducting business and does not create an entirely new entity.


  1. U.S. Small Business Administration. “Choose Your Business Name.” Accessed September 5, 2023.

  2. Michigan Legislature. “Michigan Compiled Laws 450.4206.” Accessed September 5, 2023.

  3. Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services. “Assumed Names/DBAs.” Accessed September 5, 2023.

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

Learn more about each type of business

No matter the business type, Swyft Filings can help you form your new company.