Introducing our all-inclusive manual on registering a business name in Michigan! Whether you’re embarking on a new endeavor or extending your enterprise to the Great Lakes State, it’s imperative to register your business name for legal compliance and effective brand recognition.
We’ll guide you through each step of the process, including deciding between an LLC, corporation, or “doing business as” (DBA) name. For a smooth and hassle-free registration experience, we recommend teaming up with ZenBusiness. Let’s work together to pave the path toward success for your Michigan-based business!
4 Steps to Register Your Business Name in Michigan
Getting your business name registered in Michigan is an essential move to establish your entrepreneurial identity within the state. To assist you with this procedure, we have outlined four straightforward steps for officially registering your business name in Michigan.
Step 1: Choose Your Business Structure in Michigan
When registering your business name in Michigan, choosing the correct type of business entity is crucial. There are several options to consider:
In Michigan, the most basic type of business is the sole proprietorship, which treats the owner and the business as a single entity. It’s important to note that in this structure, the owner becomes personally liable for any debts or obligations of the business.
Although there’s no legal obligation to register a sole proprietorship with the state, it may be necessary to obtain permits or licenses at a local level.
A general partnership is a suitable choice for businesses that have multiple owners and share profits and losses. Like sole proprietorships, there’s no requirement to register a general partnership with the state officially. However, it may be necessary to file a “Michigan Assumed Name Certificate” in the specific county where the business operates.
Limited Partnership (LP)
In Michigan, a limited partnership consists of general partners who have unlimited personal liability and limited partners who have limited liability. To form an LP, the filing of a “Certificate of Limited Partnership” with the Michigan Secretary of State is required.
Limited Liability Company (LLC)
Entrepreneurs often opt for the LLC as it provides liability protection akin to a corporation, along with the tax benefits and simplicity of a partnership.
To establish an LLC in Michigan, one must submit the “Articles of Organization Limited Liability Company” to the Michigan Secretary of State while also preparing an Operating Agreement that outlines how the company will be managed and its ownership structure.
A corporation that offers limited liability protection is considered a separate legal entity from its shareholders. In the state of Michigan, there are two types of recognized corporations: C-corporations and S-corporations.
To establish a corporation in Michigan, you must file either “Articles of Incorporation For-Profit Corporation” or “Articles of Incorporation Nonprofit Corporation” with the Michigan Secretary of State. The specific filing depends on the type of business you have. Corporations have additional requirements such as creating bylaws, issuing stock, and holding regular meetings for both the board and shareholders.
When determining the most appropriate business structure in Michigan for your needs, consider factors such as liability protection, taxation regulations, and management requirements. If you require help with this decision-making process, it’d be advisable to consult with a legal or business professional.
Registering your business name in Michigan involves selecting an appropriate business structure and completing all necessary paperwork through the Michigan Secretary of State. By following these steps diligently and seeking expert guidance when necessary, you can ensure that your business is set up for success within the state.
Step 2: Select a Unique Business Name in Michigan
In the state of Michigan, there are various avenues to consider for naming your business. Each option brings its advantages and safeguards. Whether you choose to go with a legal entity name, secure a trademark, or opt for a Doing Business As (DBA) name, have a thorough understanding of the state’s specific regulations and requirements.
The choice of naming method will ultimately depend on your business’s unique circumstances and needs. While pursuing all three options can provide maximum exclusivity and maintain consistency by using the same name across all registrations.
Now let’s delve into the specifics of each naming option available in Michigan:
Legal Entity Name
In Michigan, it’s required to register a legal entity name that will officially identify your company to the state. To guarantee uniqueness and safeguard against any potential name conflicts, entity names must be one-of-a-kind.
Michigan’s naming regulations also prescribe particular rules for company suffixes (e.g., LLC, LP, Corp) to represent the type of business accurately. You can confirm name availability by utilizing the database provided by the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA).
In Michigan, obtaining a trademark offers intellectual property security for your company’s name or logo on a nationwide scale. To safeguard your name or logo, conduct a comprehensive search in the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) database to ensure there are no existing registrations.
Once your trademark is registered, it provides exclusivity and prohibits others from using a similar name or logo for goods or services that are alike. This grants you protection throughout the country. However, acquiring a trademark doesn’t automatically give you the right to use the name or logo in all situations.
Doing Business As (DBA) Name
Michigan allows businesses to operate under an official name while using a separate Doing Business As (DBA) name. To establish a DBA, submit a Certificate of Assumed Name to the county clerk’s office in the location where your business operates. Unlike legal entity names, DBAs are governed by federal trademark laws but don’t need to be unique at the state level.
By familiarizing yourself with these naming options and following Michigan’s guidelines, successfully register your business name and safeguard your brand identity. Select a name that reflects your business’s vision and principles while ensuring it remains distinct and compliant with the law.
Step 3: Check Business Name Availability in Michigan
Before you register your business in Michigan, make sure that the name you have in mind isn’t already taken. To accomplish this, it’s recommended that you perform three different searches to check for any existing business names that might clash with yours.
Start by conducting a thorough search of federal trademarks to verify if your desired business name is already trademarked at the national level. To do this, access the TESS Search tool on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) website. If your selected name is already trademarked, choose an alternative business name.
Michigan Business Name Search
Once you have verified that your business name isn’t protected by a trademark, the next step is to check its availability in the state of Michigan. To do this, use the business entity search provided by the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA).
This search tool will assist you in determining whether your desired business name is currently available and if there are no other businesses operating under similar names within Michigan.
Website Domain Search
After confirming that your business name isn’t already trademarked and is available for Michigan, it’s advisable to check if the .com domain of your business name is also accessible. While not every business causes a website, it’d be wise to secure the .com domain to avoid any confusion or competition in the future.
To protect your business name from potential misuse, you can register the .com version with ZenBusiness. By securing your website domain at a minimal cost, you ensure exclusivity and safeguard your brand identity.
By conducting these three searches, you can confidently register your business in Michigan, knowing that the chosen name is unique and available for use.
Step 4: Form Your Business With the State of Michigan
Once you have made the important decisions regarding your business structure and name, the subsequent task is to establish your business’s official status by registering it with the State of Michigan.
To register a Michigan LLC, you must submit the required paperwork known as the Articles of Organization to the Michigan Corporations Division. This can be done via online submission or through mail. In cases where you’re forming a Michigan corporation, you will need to file the Articles of Incorporation with the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.
You May Also Want to Know
Protect Your Business Name With a Trademark
After you have verified that your business name is available and reserved it, you can choose to seek a trademark. The expense for this falls between $225 and $400, with potential additional costs for attorney services.
A trademark grants broad protection across the country according to federal regulations, providing legal remedies if others try to use a similar name for their own business. Many local small businesses may find that obtaining a trademark isn’t essential.
How to File a Michigan Fictitious Name – DBA?
To register a Michigan Fictitious Name, commonly referred to as a “Doing Business As” (DBA) name, complete the following instructions:
- Choose a Name: Opt for an original and distinct name for your business. Ensure that it hasn’t already been registered by another company in the state of Michigan.
- Check Name Availability: Confirm the availability of your selected Doing Business As (DBA) name by searching the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) website or by contacting their office directly.
- Fill Out the Form: Download the “Certificate of Assumed Name” form from the LARA website or obtain it from their office. Accurately fill out the form with your business name, address, and the chosen fictitious name you intend to operate under.
- Notarize the Form: Sign the Certificate of Assumed Name in the presence of a notary public to validate its authenticity.
- File the Form: Send the duly completed and notarized form to the LARA office and the required filing fee. Please check the latest fee information, as it may have changed since my last update in September 2021.
- Publish the Notice (for partnerships): If your business operates as a partnership, be aware that you may be obligated to publish a notice announcing your new fictitious name in a local newspaper, adhering to Michigan’s legal requirements for the publication duration.
For the most up-to-date and accurate information on how to file a DBA in Michigan, refer to the website of the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.
How to Change the Name of a Michigan Business?
In Michigan, if you choose to alter the name of your business, there are two ways to accomplish this:
- Filing for an assumed name (also known as a DBA name): Operating your business under a different name, with no legal name change, can be accomplished easily. This method is especially beneficial for sole proprietorships, general partnerships, LLCs, and corporations that wish to use brand names instead of the mandatory LLC or Inc. suffixes.
- Filing an amendment to the legal name: If you desire to modify the official name of your LLC or corporation, you can accomplish this by submitting a Certificate of Amendment. This approach is recommended when you intend to change the legal name of your company.
For either choice, you can submit all the required documents either through mail or in person, along with the necessary filing fee: $25 for LLCs or $10 for corporations.
Business Name Registration Laws in Michigan
In Michigan, there are important considerations to keep in mind when it comes to the laws surrounding business name registration.
- Business Entity Type: To register a business name in Michigan, determine the desired form of business entity. Choices encompass Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, Corporation, and Limited Liability Company (LLC).
- Search for Name Availability: After deciding on the type of business entity you want, it’s important to carry out a name search to verify that the desired name is available and not already being used by another Michigan-based business. The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) website offers a handy tool specifically designed for this purpose.
- Trade Names and Fictitious Names: If you intend to run your business using a name other than its official legal name, it might be necessary for you to register a trade name or fictitious name (also referred to as a “Doing Business As” or DBA name) with the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA).
- Registration Process: The registration process for your business name can differ based on the type of business entity you choose. With LLCs and corporations, the name registration procedure may be included in the overall business formation process.
However, for sole proprietorships and partnerships, submit a separate form specifically for trade name or DBA registration.
- Michigan Business Entity Search: To find registered business entities and check if your desired business name is available, use the Michigan LARA website.
Remember that laws and regulations may change as time passes. Therefore, it’s imperative to consult official state authorities or legal experts for the latest information on registering a business name in Michigan.
Bottom Line on How to Register a Business Name in Michigan
In conclusion, the registration of your business name in Michigan opens up a thrilling journey into entrepreneurship. By selecting a unique name and suitable business structure, completing all necessary registrations, and considering trademark protection or a DBA name, you establish the foundation for a successful endeavor.