Pennsylvania LLC Registering a Fictitious Name
A fictitious name is also known as: “DBA, or doing business as”; a trade name; or an assumed name. A fictitious name is not a business entity. It is fictitious. In our case, it can be considered a nickname for your LLC. Filing a DBA allows an LLC to conduct business using a name other than the officially registered LLC name listed in the Certificate of Organization. An example would be if you are part of a franchise. Let’s say you buy into the “Little Gym” franchise and that you also formed an LLC by the name of JBC Enterprises, LLC to legally protect yourself. In this case, you would register the fictitious name “The Little Gym”. In essence, “JBC” Enterprises, LLC” is d/b/a (or doing business) as The Little Gym. Another use for a fictitious name is if an LLC wants to branch out into a new market or new geographical territory. Let’s say that Jim’s company, Pittsburgh Paint Supplies, LLC, is now going to enter the Harrisburg market. Jim can register the fictitious name “Harrisburg Paint Supplies” and again, in essence Pittsburgh Paint Supplies, LLC is d/b/a as Harrisburg Paint Supplies. In this example however, if Jim’s business were to grow and get larger, we recommend setting up a new LLC. Tying up a lot of money and liability under one “umbrella” can become riskier as the size of the business increases. Also, as an entrepreneur, it is good to think of your exit strategy. If you want to sell your company down the road, it is much easier to sell an entire LLC, rather than dividing up shares or interest in 1 large company. Many times, people want to register a fictitious name by the same name as their LLC, just without the letters “LLC”. Unfortunately, the State of Pennsylvania does not allow you to register an LLC and a fictitious name with the same name. Meaning, you can’t form an LLC with the name Maria’s Yoga Studio, LLC and file a fictitious name for Maria’s Yoga Studio. Many entrepreneurs think they need to do this so that they don’t have to use the letters “LLC” in their marketing materials. Regarding the use of the letters “LLC” in your business name, you only need to use the letters “LLC” on official documents, such as purchase orders, contracts, leases, tax returns, bank documents, etc. As for your website logo, your business cards, and other marketing materials, it’s okay for you to simply use the name of your LLC without including the letters “LLC”. If this was your original reason for filing a fictitious name, now knowing this information, you can save yourself some time and skip this step. Not only is it not necessary, but again, the State will not accept fictitious name filings of this type. Once a DBA is filed and approved by the State, the LLC can then use that name as its official business name and: accept payments, enter into agreements, and open business checking and/or savings accounts. You can now do business under the fictitious name; however, for any official documents (again, purchase orders, contracts, tax returns, bank documents, etc.), you would list your business name as “Your Business, LLC d/b/a Your Fictitious Name.” For example, let’s say you’re signing the lease the opening paragraph would read: “This Agreement, entered into on the 5th day of January 2012, by The Holding Company, Incorporated (Landlord & Pittsburgh Paint Supplies, LLC d/b/a Harrisburg Paint Supplies (Tenant), is as follows:”. Some key points to remember: The fictitious name cannot own copyright. You cannot take title to real estate in a fictitious name; there are no limits to the amount of fictitious names a business can register; and the filing of a fictitious name does not grant the owner rights in that name. More specifically, more than 1 person or entity can register and do business under the same fictitious name. Unlike an LLC, which is granted rights that name within Pennsylvania, a fictitious name does not have those rights. In order to have rights to the fictitious name and to prevent others from using the same name, you must file a trademark. This can be done at the State level and/or at the federal level. If you are located in and only doing business in PA, then a Pennsylvania trademark will be sufficient. If you are a national company, it is recommended to file a federal trademark. This can be done by visiting the US Patent and Trademark Office at www.uspto.org or by consulting a trademark attorney. To file your fictitious name, you must complete the Application for Registration of Fictitious Name and mail it to the Corporation Bureau. The filing fee is $70. The $70 filing fee must be made payable to “Department of State”. In the next few slides I will go over the accepted forms of payment that go along with your Application for Registration of Fictitious Name. You can either in send a personal check or money order along with your Fictitious Name Registration. Again, the $70 filing fee must be made payable to “Department of State”. If you are sending in a personal check, your check must have a printed name and address on it. Let’s take a look at a few examples. This personal cheque would not be accepted and you’re filing would simply be sent back because there is no name or address on the check. This check would be accepted because there is a name and an address on the check. Note: the address must be printed. It cannot be handwritten. Also, the address does not have to be a Pennsylvania address or the address of the LLC. It can be an address from any state. You will notice that this check does not have an address under the name. In this case you, will need to use a money order. Here’s an example of a money order that was used for an LLC filing. I have just blacked out the address for privacy, but you can see that it is made payable to “Department of State”. After you mail your documents and the $70 filing fee to the State, you can expect to receive back a stamped approved Fictitious Name Registration form within 7-10 business days. If there are any errors with your filing, the State will simply send back your documentation along with instructions on what needs to be corrected. Here’s an approved Fictitious Name Registration. You’ll see there are 2 stamps. At the top, you have the Entity Number; in the middle, the approval stamp; and at the bottom, the Approval Date. Once you receive this, your fictitious name is officially registered. Let’s get started filling out your Application for Registration of Fictitious Name. You can access this form from the “downloads” section below this video, and you can either print it out or download and save it to your computer. Here we are at the Registration for Fictitious Name application. I filled this form out. and as you follow along in the video, just make the necessary changes in the document that you have. You have 2 options: you can either save the PDF to your computer and you can type directly within the document, or you can print it out and handwrite it. If you’re handwriting, make sure to use a pen with either blue or black ink. At the top, you’re going to fill out the name and address where you would like this document returned to. Scrolling down in Section 1, you’re going to list the fictitious name. In Section 2, you’re going to list a brief description of the business activity. You can see here I’ve put a “Painting Supply Store”. No. 3, you’re going to list the address where the fictitious name is going to be conducting business. In this example, I’ve used the new business address number. No. 4 is inapplicable; you can leave this blank. This is only for individuals registering a fictitious name. In our case, your LLC is going to be the owner (which we’ll fill out the details in Section 5). Scrolling down in Section 5, you’re going to list the name of your LLC. You’re going to write “Limited Liability Company”, and then put the organizing jurisdiction (in this case, it will be Pennsylvania). Below that, you’re going to write the Principal Office Address for your LLC, and then you’re going to scroll down. Both Sections 6 and 7 are inapplicable, and you can leave those blank. You’re then going to fill in the date. You’re going to list the name of your LLC here. You’re going to write “Managing Member”, and then after you print this document out, you’re going to sign here. Make sure to include the 3rd page when you send this filing in. Make sure you send in this document (all 3 pages) and your payment of $70 made payable to “Department of State”. You’re going to send those to the Department of State, Corporation Bureau, P.O. Box 8722, Harrisburg, PA 17105-8722. If you have any questions while going through this filing, you can call the Corporation Bureau directly at 717-787-1057, you can leave a comment below this video, or you can contact us with any questions. Going down to Step H which talks about the requirement to advertise, this is not going to be applicable in our case. The advertising requirements are only for individuals or Sole Proprietorships who are registering fictitious names. Limited Liability Companies are not required to advertise. And that wraps up the Application for Fictitious Name. Make sure to include the 3 pages of your application form along with your payment, and within 7-10 business days you’ll receive back a stamped approved copy of your application.
In order to register a Fictitious Name (DBA) for your Pennsylvania you must file a Registration of Fictitious Name Form and pay $70.
Fictitious Name Registration (PDF)
You are not required to file a DBA for your LLC. You can just use your LLC name to do business.
Filing a DBA allows an LLC to conduct business using a name other than the officially registered LLC name listed in your Certificate of Organization.
This step usually applies to those who’ve bought into a franchise or operate multiple retail stores under different names (but owned by 1 LLC).
Accepted Forms of Payment
Check or Money Order
Make Payable To
“Department of State”
Mail Registration of Fictitious Name along with $70 filing fee to:
Bureau of Corporations
P.O. Box 8722
Harrisburg, PA 17105-8722
You will receive back a stamped and approved copy of your Registration of Fictitious Name in 1-2 weeks.