DBA for New Jersey 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 New Jersey 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 New Jersey-based plumbing business called “Newark Plumbing,” and you want to expand beyond Newark, you can register a DBA for “Trenton Plumbing” and use that name in the Trenton market.

The state of New Jersey provides no exclusivity for DBA names registered here. This means that if another business likes your DBA name and decides they want to use it for themselves, they are legally allowed to do so. If you want exclusive rights to an additional business name, you can form a separate LLC instead. This is definitely more hassle and expense than getting a DBA, but the exclusive rights to your business name makes it worth it, in our opinion.

That said, if you still want to register a DBA for your New Jersey LLC, we’ll discuss the process in the next section.

How to Get a DBA for a New Jersey LLC

First off, we’ll note that New Jersey typically refers to DBAs as “alternate 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 New Jersey begins with a search of the state’s business database to ensure the name you want to register isn’t already registered by a formal business entity. Once you’ve determined the name’s eligibility, you can fill out the Registration of Alternate Name document.

This document requires the following information: an indication that your business is an LLC, your LLC’s official business name, your LLC’s 10-digit New Jersey ID number, the jurisdiction where you originally registered your LLC, the date of your LLC’s formation, the alternate name you’re registering, a brief description of the nature of your business, the date you originally used the alternate name (if applicable), your name, your title, your signature, and the date.

When you’re ready to file the form, you can submit it to the Division of Revenue and Enterprise Services online, by mail, by fax, or by hand. No matter how you choose to file it, this document has a $50 filing fee. These filings can take up to a week to process, although there is expedited service available if you file by fax or in person. In these situations, an additional $25 can speed up your turnaround times to within 8.5 hours.

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 alternate name, but in states like New Jersey, 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 New Jersey, a DBA might not be the best idea.

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