How to File a DBA in Massachusetts in 2024

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    Looking to gain a thorough understanding of the significance of DBA in Massachusetts and the necessary steps for its registration? You’ve come to the right place.

    In Massachusetts, DBA stands for “Doing Business As,” which allows business owners to use an alternative name for their operations. This alternate name can be used for various purposes, such as marketing, sales, and legal matters. It’s important to note that this designation may also be referred to as a fictitious name, assumed name, trade name, or other similar terms in some regions.

    It’s worth mentioning that unlike a Limited Liability Company (LLC), registering a DBA doesn’t establish a formal business structure and doesn’t provide comparable benefits. In many cases, opting for an LLC registration in Massachusetts may offer more advantages due to the potential tax benefits and legal protections it provides.

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    Is a Massachusetts DBA Necessary?

    In Massachusetts, obtaining a Doing Business As (DBA) is necessary when conducting business under a name that’s different from the legal business name. Individuals who have the following types of business structures can choose to operate under an alternate name in Massachusetts by obtaining a DBA:

    • Sole Proprietorships
    • Partnerships (general or limited)
    • Limited Liability Companies (LLCs)
    • Corporations

    With sole proprietorships and partnerships, the legal name of the business corresponds to the personal name of the owner. However, for LLCs and corporations, it aligns with the entity’s registered name at formation with the relevant agency.

    Why would a business owner choose to use a different name for their business? For example, a sole proprietor might want to maintain privacy or create a more professional image by adopting a separate business name. By having a “Doing Business As” (DBA) designation, they can open a dedicated bank account for their business and receive payments under that name rather than their personal one.

    For LLCs or corporations considering using DBAs, it’s often related to plans for introducing new products or services. For instance, let’s say Anne owns an upscale shoe store specializing in Italian footwear but wants to launch an affordable sneaker store catering specifically to families. To avoid confusion between these two brands and facilitate marketing efforts through brand differentiation, Anne can register a DBA for her new venture.

    However, understand the limitations of using a trade name for your business. Unlike specific business entities such as LLCs and corporations, a trade name doesn’t provide personal asset protection. Limited liability is a crucial feature that safeguards the personal assets of owners in case of legal disputes against the business. 

    Sole proprietors don’t benefit from this protection and are at risk of losing personal assets like homes or cars if faced with a business-related judgment. 

    Since a trade name only serves as an identifier and doesn’t have any legal standing, it cannot offer personal asset protection. Sole proprietors who desire such protection should establish a legal entity like an LLC or corporation instead of opting for a trade name in Massachusetts.

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    Why Hire a Professional Service to File a DBA in Massachusetts? 

    Registering a DBA in Massachusetts involves a series of important steps to ensure a smooth and successful application. It’s crucial to navigate these procedures carefully as any mistakes can lead to the rejection of your application or even more severe consequences. The state authorities in Massachusetts have the power to impose fines or potentially shut down your business if you improperly use a name in legal or business contexts.

    To address any concerns and uncertainties related to the DBA process, professional services are available. These services have an extensive understanding of Massachusetts’ specific requirements and can assist you in choosing an appropriate name before initiating the necessary paperwork. These companies offer various services such as LLC filing, which can be beneficial as your business expands.

    After conducting comprehensive research, we have identified the top professional services that cater specifically to your DBA needs in Massachusetts:

    Entire Procedure for Filing a Massachusetts DBA

    In Massachusetts, the term “business certificate” is commonly used to refer to a Doing Business As (DBA). To acquire this certificate, one must follow a simple three-step procedure.

    Step 1: Conduct a Name Search

    If you have a list of names in mind for your business activities, it’s important to ensure that they are unique and distinctive. However, if you don’t already have a list of names, take the time to compile one. 

    Once you have your list ready, the next step is to conduct a thorough name search. Start by visiting the website of the Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth and search their state records. Check if the city or town where you plan to do business has its own database and conduct a search there as well.

    It’s crucial to perform a search on TESS (Trademark Electronic Search System) for the name you want to use. This will help prevent any potential issues with trademark infringement by ensuring that your chosen business name isn’t already trademarked by someone else. Taking this precautionary step can save you from legal challenges down the road.

    By following these steps diligently and conducting comprehensive searches across various databases, you can confidently select an original and legally sound name for your business activities.

    Before submitting your trade name, it’s crucial to be aware of certain restrictions. If your business is unincorporated, avoid using entity designators like “Inc.” or “Corp.” Using the phrase “Massachusetts State Fair” is only permitted with express permission. 

    It’s important not to include any words or phrases that may imply you’re operating as a government agency. By adhering to these guidelines, you can ensure compliance and avoid any potential issues with your trade name submission.

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    Step 2: Register Your Business Certificate

    In Massachusetts, the registration of a DBA is done at the city level. To get detailed instructions on the registration process, you will need to contact the city clerk of the specific city or town where your business operates. While there may be variations in the process and fees across different cities, there are some similarities.

    For instance, if you’re registering your DBA in Boston, you can visit the City of Boston website to find the appropriate registration form. Keep in mind that if you’re filing in a different city, the form may differ but requires similar information to be provided.

    • Business Type
    • Business address
    • Business owner’s name and email address

    The fee required for obtaining a business certificate in Boston is $65, with an extra charge of $35 for individuals who aren’t residents of Massachusetts but engage in business activities within the state. Unfortunately, it’s currently not possible to submit your documents electronically. 

    Therefore, you must either personally deliver or send by mail your completed form and payment to the Office of the City Clerk in Boston. Remember that your form needs to be notarized before submission.

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    Step 3: Manage Your Massachusetts DBA

    After filing your DBA, there are various steps you can consider taking. If you decide to modify your business certificate or completely cease using your assumed name, reach out to the city clerk in the respective cities where you registered your DBA. They will provide guidance on the process of renewing, altering, or withdrawing your DBA registration.

    Renew Your Boston DBA

    To maintain compliance, update your Boston business certificate every four years. To start this process, please complete the Business Certificate Registration form and select the “Renewal” option. The cost for renewing your business certificate is $65, with an additional fee of $35 for non-residents. Please ensure that the form is properly notarized before submission.

    Change Your Boston DBA

    In Boston, it’s possible to update the address on your business certificate by completing the Change of Location form. If you need to remove someone’s name from the certificate, you can use the Business Certificate Name Withdrawal form. There’s a fee of $50 for this service. To change your DBA name, you will be required to fill out a new registration form with the updated information.

    Withdraw Your Boston DBA

    To revoke your Boston business certificate, simply complete the Business Certificate Withdrawal form. There’s a $50 fee associated with this process.

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    Best DBA Filing Services to Register Fictitious Name in Massachusetts – MA DBA

    Discover the exceptional services available for registering a fictitious name in Massachusetts.

    Business Rocket logo

    If you’re looking to register a Doing Business As (DBA) in Massachusetts, BusinessRocket is an exceptional service that stands out. They simplify the complex paperwork typically associated with DBA registration in Massachusetts. By offering intuitive online tools and step-by-step guidance, BusinessRocket aims to streamline the entire process.

    The primary goal of BusinessRocket is to guide individuals through the legal requirements of DBA registration in Massachusetts while ensuring the uniqueness of their chosen business name, all while complying with state regulations. 

    With features like document preparation assistance and filing support, BusinessRocket facilitates a seamless DBA registration process, helping individuals establish their presence in Massachusetts effectively.

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    Northwest Registered Agent logo

    With its expertise in a wide range of legal services, including DBA filings in Massachusetts, Northwest Registered Agent is a trustworthy option. As a registered agent service, Northwest provides a physical address in Massachusetts that fulfills the state’s criteria for a designated location, an important requirement for businesses operating under an alternative name.

    Northwest Registered Agent goes beyond just DBA filings and also offers additional compliance services such as submitting annual reports and forwarding mail. This approach ensures that businesses remain in good standing with the state, relieving business owners of administrative burdens and enabling them to focus on growing their enterprises.

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    ZenBusiness is a platform for business services dedicated to supporting entrepreneurs in all stages of their journey. One of the services they offer is the facilitation of filing a DBA (Doing Business As) in Massachusetts. 

    With a focus on simplicity and affordability, ZenBusiness provides an easy-to-use online platform that helps users navigate through the necessary steps involved in registering a DBA in Massachusetts.

    This service goes beyond just checking name availability; ZenBusiness also takes care of preparing all required documentation and submitting filings to the appropriate authorities in Massachusetts. They provide ongoing support for compliance matters, making them an invaluable resource for entrepreneurs who want to establish their business identity hassle-free and ensure compliance with regulations in the state of Massachusetts.

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    DBA vs. LLC in Massachusetts

    A DBA and a Massachusetts LLC are two distinct entities. While a DBA functions as an alias for a business, an LLC is a legally recognized business structure. An LLC affords its owners protection against liability, ensuring that in the event of legal action or debts owed by the business, only the assets belonging to the business are at stake. 

    Personal assets of the owner, such as property, vehicles, and savings remain unaffected by any potential risks. Undoubtedly, this offers significant advantages to business owners.

    In contrast, DBAs don’t provide liability protection. Henceforth if you operate as a sole proprietor without a DBA or any form of liability coverage in place then your personal assets are vulnerable. 

    For those individuals who currently lack any form of liability protection for their personal assets it’s recommended to establish an LLC which provides straightforward and effective safeguarding measures.

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    File a DBA in Massachusetts – Frequently Asked Questions

    For those who are seeking answers regarding the process of filing a DBA in Massachusetts, we encourage you to read on. You will find the information you need to address any lingering questions you may have.

    Conclusion – File a DBA in Massachusetts 

    To effectively navigate the DBA filing process in Massachusetts, follow our detailed three-step guide. Simplify the procedure by using BusinessRocket, a trusted platform that streamlines DBA filing.

    Choose BusinessRocket to establish and strengthen your business identity. This partnership will save you time and ensure accuracy throughout the registration process.

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