Pennsylvania DBA

This page was last fact-checked February 24, 2014.

We can help you file your Pennsylvania DBA, or you can file yourself using the following instructions.


1 Before You File

DBAs are filed under state law. Before you begin, you should know:

Requirement:
Filing a name registration is mandatory to conduct business under any other name than your personal legal name or a registered business name. There is an exception for nonprofit and professional activities. (54 Pa. Code §303)
Vocabulary:
Pennsylvania law refers to a "fictitious name" which is synonymous with a DBA. The term "trade name" (common in many states) may be misinterpreted as referring to a registered Pennsylvania trademark.
Rights:

Registration under this chapter imparts no legal right to the registering entity other than that the conducting of business by it under a fictitious name shall not result in the penalties provided by section 331 (relating to contracts entered into by entity using unregistered fictitious name).
54 Pa. Code §332

Registering a fictitious name will not prevent another individual or business from registering an identical name with the PA Department of State (no name exclusivity). Use of a name in the marketplace can provide name protection under common and federal trademark law.
Notes:
  • If you need name protection within Pennsylvania, consider forming a business entity, filing a Pennsylvania trademark, or filing a federal trademark with the USPTO.
  • Name reservations for DBAs are not accepted as there is no name exclusivity.
2 Check Name Availability

Your desired DBA may not conflict with any other registered name. Check availability of your desired name by conducting a name search.

Name Search:
Pennsylvania Bureau of Corporations record search
Notes:
  • Your name must be "distinguishable" from registered corporations, LLCs, and other entities.
  • The Pennsylvania Department of State will permit you to file a name identical to any fictitious names on record; however, you risk infringing on that person or business's common law trademark.
  • For use of corporate designators (e.g. "company"), restricted words, and names requiring pre-approval, please see 54 Pa. Code §311.

Next, check availability of your desired name against trademarks registered with the Pennsylvania Secretary of State and the USPTO.

PA Trademark:
Pennsylvania Bureau of Corporations record search (same database as above)
Federal Trademark:
USPTO trademark search

Finally, use your common sense to search use of your desired business name in the public domain. Common law rights to a trademark arise from actual use, not registration. Search the internet, telephone directories, trade magazines, business or professional license records, and so on.

3 File Pennsylvania Fictitious Name Registration

File the following document to register your name.

Submit to:
Pennsylvania Department of State
http://www.dos.state.pa.us/
Form:
Form DSCB:54-311-2: Application for Registration of a Fictitious Name
Filing Method:
Mail
Fee:
$70
Turnaround:
~10-15 business days
Notes:
  • Type and print or use black or blue ink.
  • Do not use a P.O. Box for the principal office address.
  • The requirement to file a duplicate copy with certain counties has been abolished. You no longer need to file fictitious name documents in the Office of the Clerk of the Court of Common Pleas or Prothonotary.
4 Publish your Fictitious Name

Pennsylvania imposes a publishing requirement for fictitious names.

Submit to:
Approved legal journals or newspapers
Fee:
~$200
Law:
54 Pa. Code §311(g)
Notes:
  • Beware of spending too little on publishing. You may not be including the required copy.
  • Obtain legal affidavits for your records.
  • It is better to wait to publish until after your filing is approved. That way you ensure your name is approved.
  • To learn more, read PA publishing requirement.
5 Maintain your Fictitious Name

Fictitious names do not require renewal (the decennial renewal requirement was deleted June 2000). However, you must keep information included in the registration up-to-date. In addition, you may file a cancellation when the name is no longer needed.

File the following document to submit an amendment or cancellation:

Submit to:
Pennsylvania Department of State
http://www.dos.state.pa.us/
Form:
Form DSCB:54-312/313-2: Fictitious Name Amendment, Withdrawal, Cancellation
Filing Method:
Mail
Fee:
$70
Turnaround:
~10-15 business days
Law:
54 Pa. Code §312: Amendment and 54 Pa. Code §313: Cancellation or withdrawal
Notes:
  • Type and print or use black or blue ink.
  • Checks must contain a commercially pre-printed name and address.

If you are filing a DBA as part of starting your business, please see Pennsylvania Sole Proprietorship or Pennsylvania General Partnership for additional steps.

Please feel free to contact us with any questions or feedback about this guide on how to file a fictitious name in Pennsylvania.


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