Businesses often use assumed names to operate under multiple names while maintaining a single legal
entity. Other terms used to describe an assumed name include: fictitious name, doing business as
or trade name. The process of adopting an assumed name varies by where you operate, but
are typically filed with the secretary of state or at the county level.
Most states require companies using an assumed name to register, however, 13 states (Alabama, Alaska,
Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Maryland, Mississippi, Nebraska, Ohio, Wisconsin, and
Wyoming) do not have a state filing requirement. Firms in these states may need to register their
assumed name at the local level instead.
In addition to state filing requirements, 21 states also have county assumed name registration
requirements. Depending on the legal structure of your business (e.g. LLC, corporation), a business
may need to register an assumed name with the state and county or just the county. Sole
and general partnerships are more likely to need a county assumed name registration than other
After registering an assumed name, seven states require the company to publish their assumed name in
newspaper or legal publication. These states are California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Minnesota,
Nebraska, and Pennsylvania,
Assumed name registration generally provides little protection against another business using the
name. Several states guard registered assumed names by refusing overly similar names, but only
and North Dakota provide exclusive name rights with registration.
The majority of states that require registration of assumed names also require renewal of assumed
registration. Typically assumed names need to be renewed every five years, but other states have
cycles ranging from every one to ten years.