How to Get a North Dakota DBA Name

Although filing for a DBA is similar nationwide, there are specific rules to follow when getting a North Dakota DBA. Read on to learn more.
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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.

Carlos Serrano
Written by Carlos Serrano
Written byCarlos Serrano
Updated January 18, 2024
Edited by Alexis Konovodoff
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North Dakota business owners who wish to operate under a fictitious business name must formally register their “doing business as” (DBA). If you’re one of them or are getting ready to launch your company, applying for a DBA requires special paperwork. This article will take a closer look.

DBA in North Dakota: Key Takeaways

  • A DBA is a different name from your formal business name under which you operate.

  • To register or renew a DBA, you must fill out a Trade Name Application and submit it to the Secretary of State

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

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What Is a DBA?

A DBA or “doing business as” (a.k .a. fictitious name, trade name, assumed name, or franchise name) is a different name from the name of your business entity or personal name under which you operate.[1] It allows you to launch a new product or service that might not be related to your original offerings without creating a new business.

For instance, let’s say you want to set up or already have a carpet store. You wish to expand the enterprise by providing car upholstery. Rather than do so under your original entity name (e.g., “Premium Carpets”), you can register a DBA (e.g., “Premium Upholstery”) to promote the new products more effectively. It eliminates the need to start a company from scratch.

Understanding the basics of a DBA is critical, but you should also know what a DBA isn’t. And the most important concept you shouldn’t conflate it with is a business structure. Your trade name is entirely unrelated to your structure. 

A DBA also doesn’t influence your tax structure. This role belongs to your business structure. For example, if you wish to reap the benefits of pass-through taxation, you set up an LLC.[2] Whether or not you operate under a DBA doesn’t influence your pass-through status.

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How to File a DBA in North Dakota

To make sure your efforts don’t go to waste, you should first check if the desired DBA is available. Our business name search tool helps you complete this step in seconds. Enter your desired trade name, and you should get a list of all (if any) companies with the same name.

Free North Dakota Business Name Search

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

Step 2 — File a Fictitious Business Name Statement

The next step is to submit your request to the North Dakota Secretary of State. The form you hand in at this stage is also called your fictitious business name statement or fictitious name certificate.

Take the following steps to forward your trade name statement to the Secretary of State:

  1. Visit the North Dakota Secretary of State FirstStop portal.

  2. Click on “Forms” in the left panel.

  3. Scroll to the bottom of the page and press “Trade Name Application.”

  4. Enter your login credentials or create your account. 

  5. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the form.

  6. Complete the filing online.

You can also download and send the document to the Secretary of State at the following address:

North Dakota Secretary of State

State of North Dakota

600 E Boulevard Avenue Dept 108

Bismarck ND 58505-0500

The price of filing a North Dakota DBA is $25, payable by credit card.

To give you a better idea of what to expect, you’ll probably need to provide the following information in your fictitious business name statement:

  • Real legal name of your business

  • Mailing address and principal place of business if they’re different

  • DBA you wish to register

  • Brief explanation of the type of business you want to do

  • Signatures of the owner(s)

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

In many areas, DBA registration isn’t completed at a state level. Rather than file your request with the Secretary of State, you do so locally at your county clerk’s office.

North Dakota skips this process. The Secretary of State is the only entity you must communicate with during the registration.

However, you can still contact your county clerk if you need additional information about your North Dakota trade name, including renewals, cancellations, or other naming requirements. For example, if you’re in Traill County, reach out to the town hall clerk at 701-636-4454. Or, you can send a letter to the following address:

Clerk of Court

PO Box 805

Hillsboro, ND 58045

Step 4 — Follow Up

You must renew your trade name after a certain period. North Dakota requires you to do so every five years. Approximately 90 days before the expiration, the Secretary of State will email you the renewal form to complete and send back.

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North Dakota DBA Name Restrictions

In addition to name availability, you should also check North Dakota DBA requirements:

  • Must not contain your organization’s real name

  • Must not contain your first or last name[3]

  • Must not contain words or phrases that may create a false impression you’re a government agency (e.g., Department of Revenue, Treasury, Department of Agriculture)

  • Must not be overtly similar to DBAs of other businesses

DBA North Dakota Tax Considerations

Tax-wise, a DBA does not influence your small business or startup. However, don’t forget that you may have numerous tax obligations, regardless of your trade name:

  • If you sell products or services, you’ll need to pay a sales tax, whether or not you do so under your real company name or DBA.[4]

  • If you’re taxed as a standard North Dakota LLC, you’ll maintain this system even after your DBA registration. The same goes for S Corp, C Corp, and other formations.

  • Regardless of the number of DBAs, you still have one EIN and tax ID.

Why Should You Get a DBA?

A DBA can make a difference for your organization in several scenarios:

  • Lets you start offering products/services unrelated to your original activity without creating a new enterprise

  • Protects your privacy if you’re a sole proprietor

  • Enables you to open a business bank account

  • Allows you to market your offerings more effectively

Register Your North Dakota 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 business structure, while a DBA is another name for your company. Unlike a DBA, your LLC status grants you personal asset protection, pass-through taxation, and many other benefits.

How much does getting a DBA cost?

The state fees for filing a DBA depend on the state. You need $25 to register one in North Dakota.

Do I need a DBA for my North Dakota business?

You don’t need a DBA for your North Dakota business. However, if you wish to operate under a DBA, you must formally register it with the Secretary of State.

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

There are no differences between trade names, assumed names, and DBA names. They’re synonyms. North Dakota also uses the term franchise names.

How long does a DBA last?

The lifetime of a DBA varies by state. In North Dakota, a DBA lasts for five years after the registration. You can file for a renewal within three months of the expiration date.

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

No. The number of DBA names you can have for one company is unlimited. 

Is a DBA the same as a trademark?

A DBA isn’t the same as a trademark. A state or federal trademark is a word, symbol, or phrase that distinguishes your brand from others and prevents businesses from reusing the mark.[5] A DBA doesn’t provide any trademark protection. The only way to stop others from operating under the same DBA is to trademark it.

Does a DBA affect my business’s tax status?

No. A DBA doesn’t affect your company’s tax status. It doesn’t eliminate any tax benefits you may have, and it doesn’t exempt you from the need to pay sales tax if you sell products or services.


  1. U.S. SBA. “Choose your business name.” Accessed October 10, 2023.

  2. Cornell Law School. “Pass-through taxation.” Accessed October 10, 2023.

  3. North Dakota State Government. “Trade Name/Franchise Name.” Accessed October 10, 2023.

  4. North Dakota Office of State Tax Commissioner. “Sales and use tax in North Dakota.” Accessed October 10, 2023.

  5. USPTO. “What is a trademark?” Accessed October 10, 2023.

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