DBA for Michigan LLCOne 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 Michigan LLC.

Keep in Mind: A DBA does not provide you with asset protection. However an LLC does and allows you to operate under the business name of your choice as long as it is not already claimed. Plus, it is fairly straightforward to file through an LLC formation service (like ZenBusiness) or on your own.

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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 Michigan-based plumbing business called “Detroit Plumbing,” and you want to expand beyond Detroit, you can register a DBA for “Ann Arbor Plumbing” and use that name in the Ann Arbor market.

The state of Michigan does not provide any level of exclusivity for DBA names. This means that if you register a DBA for your LLC in this state, other businesses are free to use that name as well if they would like to. For this reason, we are not fans of registering DBA names in Michigan. If you want to create an alternate business name for your company, registering an additional LLC is the only way you’ll gain exclusive rights to the name.

That said, if you do still want to register a DBA in Michigan, we’ll outline the process below.

How to Get a DBA for a Michigan LLC

First off, we’ll note that Michigan 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 Michigan starts with a search of the state’s business database to ensure that no LLCs or corporations have officially registered the name. Once you’ve determined the name’s eligibility, you can move on to filling out the Certificate of Assumed Name.

This form requires the following information: your LLC’s official business name, your LLC’s identification number (provided by the Corporations, Securities, and Commercial Licensing Bureau), the assumed name you’re registering, your name, your title, your signature, and the date.

When you’re ready to file the form, you can submit it to the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs online, by mail, or by hand, along with your $25 filing fee. The normal turnaround time for business filings in Michigan is 3-5 business days, but you can expedite your filing for an additional fee: 24-hour service for $50, same-day service for $100, two-hour service for $500, or one-hour service for $1,000.

In Conclusion

The doing business as (DBA) name varies more from state to state than most other business filings. In some states, a DBA grants you exclusive rights to your new trade name, but in states like Michigan, that simply isn’t the case. Due to this lack of exclusivity, we’re not fans of registering DBAs in this state.

Instead, it’s probably a better option to form an additional LLC if you want to be able to use multiple names for your business. This is certainly more of a hassle that registering a DBA, but at least you’ll have exclusive rights to your name.

If you’re looking for a new way to market your LLC in Michigan, a DBA might not be the best idea.

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