To benefit the business community, the District of Columbia allows registration and use of a trade name, a business name which is different from your true name, if you are an individual, or from your corporation, partnership, or company name. The name used for your registered entity (i.e., corporation, partnership, LLC, etc.) does not need to be registered as your trade name; your registered entity name is considered to be your business' true name.
The benefits of registering your business name include:
- Using fictitious or shortened business names in conducting business, including transacting business with vendors and financial institutions (For example: use of fictitious names such as "Scarves by Sandra," or use of a shortened version of a corporate name such as "Fullerton's" for "The Fullerton Corporation")
- Providing official records of all owners associated to a business name
- Allowing entities with business names to undertake legal action under that name
Definition of Trade Name
A trade or fictitious name is any name used in business that does not include the full legal name of all the owners of the business. Your trade name is different from your corporate name; your business may have only one corporate name but as many trade names as you desire. “Trade name” means a word or name, or any combination of a word or name, used by a person to identify the person's business which:
- (A) Is not, or does not include, the true and real name of all persons conducting the business; or
- (B) Includes words which suggest additional parties of interest such as “company,” “and sons,” or “and associates.”
Trade Name Renewal
- Trade name renewal is required after its registration.
- First renewal is by April 1st of the 2nd year from the year of registration and every two years thereafter.
- Trade names can be renewed after April 1st but no later than by September 1st of any given year.
- Renewal after April 1st will incur late fee equal to original registration fee.
- If trade name is not renewed by the deadline, it will be canceled on September 1st and re-registration will be required if given name is available.
Trade Name Filing Fees
- Trade Name Registration Application: fifty-five dollars ($55);
- Trade Name Renewal: fifty-five dollars ($55); renewal late fee is $55
- Trade Name Amendment Application: fifty-five dollars ($55)
- Trade Name Cancellation: fifty-five dollars ($55)
Questions & Answers
Do I have to register trade name?
It is up to individual customer or organization to determine if the use of a trade name will be beneficial to business operation. If trade name is being used, you may register the trade name via CorpOnline.
Can my trade name be the same as my corporate name?
No. However, under certain circumstances, the Corporations Division will allow an organization to register its name as the trade name (ex, “ABC Inc.” will be permitted to register “ABC” as a trade name although it is not required).
Can my trade name be similar to another trade name or registered entity (organization) name?
The trade name shall be distinguishable on the records of the Superintendent of Corporations from any:
- Name of domestic or foreign filing entity (organization) as defined by Title 29.
- Any reserved or register organization name;
- Another registered trade name;
- The name of an agency or instrumentality of the United States or District of Columbia or another state or a subdivision thereof.
Can trade name registered to one owner be shared with another owner?
If original owner provides the written consent then trade name can be shared among multiple entities. Each entity desiring trade name must secure its own written consent from original owner.
Can my trade name include the entity qualifier such as LLC, Corp, LP, etc.?
No. However, the word “company” is allowed to be a part of the trade name.
How many trade names can I register?
There is no limit to the number of trade names that may be owned by entity or sole proprietor.
If I Register trade name in the District, is this trade name valid elsewhere?
Trade names registered in the District of Columbia are only valid for use in the District. Each jurisdiction generally requires separate registration of trade name.
How long trade name registration is good for?
Currently, trade name registration is valid for two years from initial registration date. The trade name must be renewed by April 1st of every second year from the year of registration. Trade name can be renewed by August 31st of the renewal year upon payment of late fee, which is equal to the initial registration fee. For example, a trade name registered on January 2, 2016 will be required to be renewed by April 1, 2018 and can be renewed after April 1st until August 31st if late fee is paid.
How much is the cost for trade name registration, renewal, amendment or cancelation?
For trade name fees, please refer to the following website: Corporate Filing Fees
I want to change my registered trade name or change the ownership from my organization to another organization/person. What should I do?
You may file Trade Name Amendment Form TN-4.
How can I register the trade name?
You can register a trade name via CorpOnline by creating a profile to access the online services main page (use latest version of Internet Explorer or Chrome, Firefox, Safari) and proceed. Online filers must pay by using a credit card. Once a filing is submitted, print the confirmation page for your records.
Follow the link below to view and download documents for the above services: