DBA for Vermont 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 Vermont 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 Vermont-based plumbing business called “Burlington Plumbing,” and you want to expand beyond Burlington, you can register a DBA for “Montpelier Plumbing” and use that name in the Montpelier market.

The state of Vermont 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, because of Vermont’s “distinguishable on the record” standard (which prevents businesses from registering DBAs that are similar to each other), this state provides more legal protection than most. In fact, Vermont will protect your trade name for five years once you register it.

How to Get a DBA for a Vermont LLC

First off, we’ll note that Vermont often refers to DBAs as “assumed names or trade names,” so for the purposes of this article, we’ll continue to use these terms interchangeably because most states use the term “DBA.”

The process for obtaining a DBA in Vermont begins with a search of the state’s business database to see if your desired name is available or if it has already been registered. When you’ve determined the name’s eligibility, you can go ahead and start the registration process.

The document you need to file to get a DBA for your Vermont LLC is the Assumed Business Name Registration form, which is only available online. The information you’ll need to fill out this form includes your LLC’s official business name, the DBA name you want to register, an indication that your business is an LLC, your LLC’s business address, and the names and addresses of your LLC’s owner/members.

When you finish filling out the form, you should submit it to the Secretary of State through the convenient online portal. There is a $50 fee for DBA registrations. Vermont typically processes online filings in less than one business day.

In Conclusion

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, thanks to the state’s “distinguishable on the record” standard, Vermont actually does a solid job in this regard compared to most states.

Vermont’s pledge to provide five years of name exclusivity for any trade 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 Vermont, a DBA isn’t a bad idea.

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