One of the most important parts of any business is its name. Your limited liability company’s name is your first impression with prospective clients, whether they hear about your business by word of mouth, drive past a billboard advertising your business on the freeway, or if they stumble upon your business as a result of a Google search.
One way to change your business name — or to add an additional name that your LLC can use interchangeably — is by filing a “doing business as” name application, commonly known as a DBA. There are many reasons to get a DBA — from marketing a new product line to granting a sole proprietorship the ability to use an assumed name — so this article will walk you through the process of registering a DBA for your Maine LLC.
What Is a DBA?
To begin, let’s quickly run down what exactly a DBA is. One point of confusion we often hear about is that a DBA is not a business entity, like an LLC, corporation, sole proprietorship, general partnership, etc. Instead, you can think of a DBA as an add-on feature of sorts.
The DBA allows you to create alternate business names for your entity, which you can then use interchangeably with your LLC’s official business name. In addition, for informal business entities that don’t have exclusive business names (like sole proprietorships and general partnerships), a DBA can be a great way to inject some additional professionalism into a business venture.
But let’s talk strictly about LLCs, shall we? Why would an LLC want an additional business name? There are several potential reasons, although they obviously vary considerably depending on what your business does. One popular reason is to differentiate a new product line from a company’s existing offerings.
Let’s say that you own a business called “Fine Footwear, LLC” that produces high-end shoes. If you decide to also start a new product line that sells inexpensive flip-flop sandals, you might want a way to differentiate this brand from your core business. In this circumstance, you could register a DBA for “Flip-Flops by Fine Footwear,” and you can use this name to market your new products, while your original product line remains unaffected if your sandal side business fails.
It could also be helpful if you decide to expand your local business into a new market. For instance, if you own a Maine-based plumbing business called “Portland Plumbing,” and you want to expand beyond Portland, you can register a DBA for “Augusta Plumbing” and use that name in the Augusta market.
The state of Maine includes more protections for DBA names than most states do because, in most states, there is no exclusivity for a DBA. If another business decides that they want to use your DBA as their own name, many states allow them to do just that. However, Maine requires that all business names in use must be entirely unique. Due to this level of protection, getting an assumed name for your LLC isn’t a bad idea at all.
How to Get a DBA for a Maine LLC
First off, we’ll note that Maine typically refers to DBAs as “assumed names,” but for the purposes of this article, we’ll continue to use both terms interchangeably because most states use the term “DBA.”
The process for obtaining a DBA in Maine starts with a business name search to make sure the name you want to use is available. Once you’ve determined the name’s availability, you can register it for your use by filing the Statement of Intention to Transact Business Under an Assumed or Fictitious Name.
This form requires the following information: your LLC’s official business name, an indication that you are registering an assumed name (fictitious names are for foreign LLCs that can’t use their original names in Maine due to registration by another entity), the assumed name you’re registering, the business locations where this name will be used (if not all of your Maine business locations), the jurisdiction and date of your LLC’s original registration, your name, your signature, and the date.
Once you’re done filling out the form, you can file it with the Secretary of State by mail or by hand, along with your $125 filing fee. Business filings in this state typically take 5-10 business days to process, but there are sometimes delays in this process. You can check current turnaround times for business services on the top of this page — if there is no turnaround time listed, then the state’s usual processing speeds apply.
You can also expedite your filing to 24-hour service for an additional $50, while an additional $100 will buy immediate service.
Should You Hire a DBA Service?
Would you rather pay a reasonable fee to a business services company and have them register your DBA on your behalf? While you can certainly save some money by doing it yourself, it’s nice to have the peace of mind that your new trade name was registered by a professional who really knows what they’re doing.
Here are a few of our favorite services for DBA registrations, all offering the same low price point of $99:
- IncFile: IncFile is one of the best business service providers available, and their DBA service is top-notch. IncFile receives tremendous customer feedback, with thousands of positive reviews all over the web. They also have plenty of experience, as they’ve been around since 2004 and they’ve formed more than 250,000 businesses.
- LegalZoom: LegalZoom actually has two different packages for DBA services, as their $119 Premium package includes a trial of their Business Advisory Plan. LegalZoom is one of the biggest names in the industry, and they’ve served millions of customers. It’s hard to argue with a track record like that!
- Swyft Filings: Swyft Filings really lives up to their name, as they’re one of the fastest business services companies you’ll ever find. Not only do they have some of the industry’s quickest turnaround times, but they also say that you can fill out their entire DBA application in “as little as 10 minutes.”
To be honest, we often say that entrepreneurs shouldn’t bother with DBAs because they don’t provide any exclusivity for your business name. However, Maine actually does a solid job in this regard compared to most states.
Maine’s pledge to provide five years of name exclusivity for any assumed name registered here makes the DBA an interesting proposition in this state, and we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this option to any of our readers.
If you’re looking for a new way to market your LLC in Maine, a DBA isn’t a bad idea.