How to File a Michigan DBA – MI DBA Guide 2024

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    If you’re interested in understanding the importance of a DBA in Michigan and registering it, you’ve come to the right place. In Michigan, a DBA (Doing Business As) allows entrepreneurs to adopt an alternative business name for advertising, commerce, and legal purposes.

    In certain states, this alternate name is referred to as a fictitious name, assumed name, trade name or other similar terms. Unlike an LLC (Limited Liability Company), a DBA doesn’t constitute a formal business structure and doesn’t provide comparable benefits.

    Registering an LLC in Michigan can be more beneficial due to tax incentives and legal protections.

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    What Is a Michigan DBA (Assumed Name)?

    A DBA, or “Doing Business As” name, functions as an alias for your business. It enables you to conduct business operations under a name different from its legal name. In Michigan, these aliases are referred to as assumed names, while in other states, they may be known as trade or fictitious names. 

    DBAs are commonly employed by businesses when rebranding, launching new product lines, or enhancing their professional image.

    What’s Unique About DBA Registration in Michigan?

    • Compulsory Registration: As per state law, operating a business under an assumed name is legally required, applying to both unincorporated entities like sole proprietorships and formal entities like LLCs and corporations. Failure to register may lead to fines and adverse legal consequences.
    • Registration Levels: In Michigan, registering an assumed name varies based on the business type. Informal structures like sole proprietorships and general partnerships register at the county level, while formal entities like LLCs and corporations register with the state’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA).
    • Shared Assumed Name: If two or more business entities are involved in a partnership or joint venture (MCLA §450.1217(2)), they can use the same assumed name. However, each entity must individually file a Certificate of Assumed Name.
    • Insurance Company DBA Registration: Insurance companies or individual insurance agents must include their DBA in their insurance license through the Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS). Individual agents can use the Individual Insurance Licensee Registration or Cancellation of DBA form, while business entities can complete the registration online via the DIFS Insurance Licensing Online Services portal.

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    Do I Need a DBA in Michigan?

    To operate legally in Michigan, businesses such as Sole Proprietorships, General Partnerships, Corporations, Limited Liability Companies (LLCs), Limited Partnerships (LPs), and Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs) must submit a “Doing Business As” (DBA) filing with the Michigan Secretary of State if they’re conducting business under a name that’s different from their legal name. 

    This requirement also applies to out-of-state companies that regularly engage in business activities within the state of Michigan.

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

    The process of submitting a DBA application in Michigan comprises several crucial steps that are vital for a seamless and successful registration. Any mistake made during these steps could lead to an application being rejected or even more severe consequences. The state authorities in Michigan have the power to impose fines or potentially shut down your business if you improperly use a name in legal or business contexts.

    Engaging the services of professionals can help ease any concerns and uncertainties associated with the entire DBA process. These professionals have a thorough understanding of Michigan’s specific requirements and can assist you in choosing an ideal name before starting the necessary paperwork. These companies offer various services, such as LLC filing, which can be valuable as your business expands and grows.

    Having conducted extensive research, we have discovered the leading professional services specifically designed to cater to your DBA requirements in the state of Michigan.

    How to Register a Michigan Assumed Name

    The process of registering a DBA (Doing Business As) is similar for all businesses, regardless of whether they’re incorporated entities filing with the state or informal businesses filing with their county clerk. Here are the steps you need to follow:

    1. Check Name Availability

    To proceed, confirm the availability of the desired Doing Business As (DBA) name. In Michigan, it’s not permitted to use a DBA that’s already registered as a legal business name or assumed name for any other business entity within the state. It would also be wise to avoid using trademarked names in order to prevent potential lawsuits from their owners.

    Businesses filing for DBAs at the county level are prohibited from utilizing an assumed name that has already been claimed by another business within the same county (as stated in MCLA §445.2).

    To ensure the desired name is available, consult these sources for any existing registrations.

    • LARA Business Entity Search (Legal business names and assumed names for business entities registered at the state level)
    • LARA Marks & Insignia Search (Michigan trademarks)
    • US Patent and Trademark Office Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) (federal trademarks)

    In certain counties, there are online databases available for searching assumed name registrations. However, not all counties provide this service. Taking Michigan as an example, out of the five most populous counties, only Oakland County offers an online business name search feature. 

    In most other counties, it will be necessary to contact or physically visit the county clerk’s office in order to confirm whether your desired name is available or not.

    2. Follow Michigan DBA Naming Rules

    To select your DBA, comply with the business naming regulations in Michigan. You’re not permitted to use an assumed name that violates these rules.

    • Include an entity identifier that doesn’t correspond to your business, meaning, you cannot use “LLC” in your name unless your business is structured as an LLC.
    • Incorporate restricted words unless authorized to use them. This restriction encompasses words like “bank” unless your business is, in fact, a bank.
    • Avoid being misleading about the business’s nature or adopting a name that’s confusingly similar to another business’s name.

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    3. Complete DBA Certificate

    Various levels of government require registered business entities and informal businesses to submit separate filings and complete distinct forms.

    LLCs, LPs, corporations, and nonprofits

    If you’re the owner of an LLC, LP, for-profit corporation, or nonprofit corporation, register your DBA with the state. The process involves submitting a Certificate of Assumed Name to LARA. This certificate requires you to provide specific information such as:

    • Provide a name and address for mailing your certificate from LARA (if not specified, the certificate will be sent to your registered agent’s office)
    • Specify your legal business name
    • Include your ID number from LARA’s Corporations, Securities & Commercial Licensing Bureau
    • State your assumed name
    • Obtain the signature of an authorized individual
    • If involved in a partnership or joint venture between two or more business entities, include the names and ID numbers of all entities adopting the assumed name

    Sole proprietorships and general partnerships

    If you’re the proprietor of a sole proprietorship or a member of a general partnership (also known as a co-partnership in Michigan), you will be required to file your Doing Business As (DBA) registration in the county where your business is located. To find the contact information for the county clerks, you can refer to the County Contacts Directory provided by the Michigan Association of County Clerks.

    Many counties offer specific forms for filing, such as Wayne County’s Assumed Name Form and Kent County’s Business Registration Form. However, if your county doesn’t have its own form available and you need to create one yourself, there are certain details that must be included:

    • Your legal business name
    • Your business address
    • The names, addresses, and signatures of all business owners

    Your form must be notarized.

    4. File the Form and Pay the Fee

    The submission location for your form and the filing fee you will incur are contingent upon the type of business you have.

    LLCs, LPs, corporations, and nonprofits

    There are multiple ways to submit your documents: through mail, in person, or via an online platform.

    By mail:

    Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs

    Corporations, Securities & Commercial Licensing Bureau

    Corporations Division

    PO Box 30054

    Lansing, MI 48909

    In-person:

    2407 N Grand River Ave

    Lansing, MI 48906

    Online:

    LARA Corporations Online Filing System

    The filing fee for LPs and corporations is $10, while LLCs are required to pay $25.

    Sole Proprietorships and General Partnerships

    You can submit your filings either through mail or by personally visiting the county clerk’s office. The specific filing fees differ from one county to another, but they typically amount to less than $20.

    How to Renew an Assumed Name in Michigan

    To maintain compliance, it’s necessary for all businesses, regardless of their type, to renew their assumed name every 5 years.

    LLCs, LPs, and corporations:

    • Renew online through the Corporations Online Filing System
    • Filing costs $10 for LPs and corporations and $25 for LLCs

    Sole proprietorships and general partnerships:

    • Renewal can be done at your county clerk’s office, where you may find a renewal form provided or be required to submit the same form used for the initial registration
    • The cost for filing a renewal is equivalent to the filing fee for registration

    Can I Cancel my DBA?

    In order to terminate your Michigan DBA, submit the required documents and payment to the regulatory body with which you initially registered.

    LLCs, LPs, and corporations:

    • Terminate your registration either through the Corporations Online Filing System or by submitting a Certificate of Termination of Assumed Name
    • The filing fee for termination is $10 for LPs and corporations, and $25 for LLCs

    Sole proprietorships and general partnerships:

    • To cancel your business registration, you can contact your local county clerk’s office Many counties offer a cancellation form specifically designed for this purpose, such as the Certificate of Discontinuance of Business Under an Assumed Name in Oakland County
    • The fee required for cancellation is usually equal to the registration and renewal fee

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    5. Taxes and Insurance

    Adding an Assumed Name to an Insurance License

    LARA places great importance on ensuring that your DBA (Doing Business As) has proper insurance coverage.

    For an individual insurance licensee operating under a DBA, it’s necessary to complete either the “FIS Individual Insurance Licensee Registration” form or the “Cancellation of DBA” form. These forms can be found on the LARA website.

    In the case of a business entity (agency) licensee, they must register their assumed name on the Michigan DIFS insurance licensing website.

    DBAs and Tax Identification

    A sole proprietorship operating under a Doing Business As (DBA) name has the option to utilize the owner’s Social Security Number (SSN) for tax purposes, without needing to acquire a Federal Employee Identification Number (EIN).

    In contrast, any other type of company is required to possess, employ, or procure a business EIN.

    The fictional company in question isn’t obligated to obtain a Federal Employee Identification Number (EIN). Instead, the responsibility for all taxes related to the DBA falls upon the underlying legal entity. This legal entity assumes accountability for employment taxes, unemployment insurance contributions, business insurance coverage, as well as local and state business permits.

    Should the underlying legal entity lack tax identification numbers in place already; it will be necessary for you to obtain them accordingly.

    To acquire a federal Employer Identification Number (EIN), you can reach out to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Submit a business registration with the State of Michigan to fulfill tax obligations related to any business transactions. If you have employees under your wing, registration with both the Michigan Department of Treasury and Unemployment Insurance Agency is mandatory.

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    Best DBA Filing Services to Register Fictitious Name in Michigan – MI DBA

    Discover the exceptional services available for registering a fictitious name in the state of Michigan.

    Business Rocket logo

    BusinessRocket is an invaluable service for individuals looking to file a Doing Business As (DBA) in Michigan. This platform is specifically designed to provide entrepreneurs and business owners with a user-friendly experience, simplifying the complex paperwork involved in DBA registration in Michigan. Through its intuitive online tools and step-by-step guidance, BusinessRocket aims to streamline the entire process.

    The main goal of BusinessRocket is to guide individuals through the legal requirements of DBA registration in Michigan while ensuring that their chosen business name is unique and compliant with state regulations. With features like document preparation and filing assistance, BusinessRocket makes the DBA registration process seamless, helping individuals establish their presence in Michigan with ease.

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    Northwest Registered Agent logo

    With its expertise in a range of legal services, including filing DBAs in Michigan, Northwest Registered Agent is a trustworthy option. Acting as a registered agent service, Northwest provides an actual address in Michigan that meets the state’s requirements for a designated location. This is crucial for businesses operating under an assumed name.

    Besides DBA filings, Northwest Registered Agent offers other compliance services like submitting annual reports and forwarding mail. Taking this approach ensures that businesses remain in good standing with the state, taking away administrative burdens from business owners and allowing them to focus on growing their enterprises.

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    zen-buisnes logo

    ZenBusiness is a comprehensive business services platform that offers support to entrepreneurs at every stage of their journey, including filing a DBA in Michigan. With a focus on simplicity and affordability, ZenBusiness provides an intuitive online platform that guides users through the necessary steps to register their DBA in Michigan.

    This service not only helps with checking the availability of names but also takes care of preparing the required documents and submitting them to the relevant authorities in Michigan.

    ZenBusiness goes beyond just registration by offering ongoing assistance with compliance matters. This makes it an invaluable resource for entrepreneurs who want a hassle-free and compliant approach to establishing their business identity in the state of Michigan.

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    DBA vs. LLC in Michigan

    An LLC, which stands for Limited Liability Company, is a distinct legal entity that provides business owners with protection against liability. Unlike a DBA (Doing Business As), which is simply a name designation, an LLC offers separation between the business and its owners. 

    This means that if your Michigan-based business incurs debts or faces legal action, only the assets of the company are at risk. Your personal belongings, such as property, vehicles, and retirement funds are safeguarded.

    Choosing to operate under a DBA doesn’t offer any additional safeguards for business owners. As a sole proprietor without an LLC structure in place, there’s no legal distinction between you and your business, even if you have registered a DBA. 

    To ensure comprehensive liability protection for your enterprise, establish an LLC as this provides the most effective solution in this regard.

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    File a DBA in Michigan – Frequently Asked Questions

    If you have any remaining questions about how to submit a DBA in Michigan, continue reading to find the information you’re looking for.

    Conclusion – File a DBA in Michigan

    Mastering the DBA filing process in Michigan can be easily achieved by following our detailed five-step manual. For a more streamlined and simplified experience, use the specialized solutions provided by BusinessRocket, a trusted partner that simplifies the DBA filing procedure.

    Embrace BusinessRocket as your strategic companion in molding and strengthening your business identity, guaranteeing not just time efficiency but also careful accuracy throughout the complete registration process.

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