How to Register a Trade Name in New Jersey

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A trade name is called a business name in the state of New Jersey, and is commonly known as a "DBA." This is any name a business uses that does not include the full legal name of all the owners of the business. New Jersey requires the owners of most types of businesses to register their business names with the state.

What Is a Business Trade Name?

Trade names themselves have different names. They may be called fictitious names, doing-business-as names, DBAs or trade names. Essentially, trade names include any epithet a business uses in the course of its activities to refer to itself. This applies to many types of business organizations, including:

  • LLC.
  • C-Corp.
  • S-Corp.
  • LP.
  • LLP.
  • Solo practitioner or general partnership, in some cases.

Solo practitioners and general partners can, but do not need to, register their business name in New Jersey if it includes the actual name of the owners.

However, they have the same registration requirements as other companies if they choose a different name for their business. For example, "Jan Smith, Attorney at Law" need not be registered. However, if Smith decides to call the business "Immigration Legal Assistance," it must be registered.

Search for a New Jersey DBA

A business owner must register their trade name or DBA before they open their doors to clients or customers in New Jersey. But there are several important steps that must be taken prior to registering a trade name.

The first step is to select a business name, making sure that the name selected is not in use in the state by some other business. Using a trade name already in use in New Jersey is not allowed, since it is likely to cause confusion.

There's no need to pull out the Yellow Pages however, or invest hours figuring this out. The New Jersey Department of the Treasury offers an online search engine that business owners can use. Visit their website and navigate to the Business Name Search page, then insert the proposed DBA in the search bar. Any identical or very similar names will be listed.

DBA Registration for Corporations

If the New Jersey business at issue is a corporation or a limited liability company, such an LLC, C-Corp, S-Corp, LP or LLP, the owners must form a business entity with the New Jersey Department of Treasury's Division of Revenue and Enterprise Services before registering their trade name.

They can select a trade name, run it through the business name search, then reserve it when they submit their business formation documents. Once the business is issued a Certificate of Formation, the company can officially register the business name with the New Jersey Secretary of State.

Forming the business with the state involves setting up the business' legal structure. The company principals need to do all of these acts before filing for the Certificate of Formation:

  • Select a business name.
  • Determine the type of business they are forming.
  • Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS.
  • Draw up a description of the business activities.
  • Identify a business address.
  • Select a registered agent with a New Jersey address to receive legal documents on behalf of the business.

Obtaining an Employer Identification Number

The EIN is the business equivalent of an individual's Social Security number (SSN), a unique, nine-digit identifying number for the business. Like an SSN, an EIN does not expire. The fastest way of getting an EIN is by online application at the IRS website.

After filling out a short form, including the tax information of the principal officer, the IRS issues the EIN immediately and transmits it digitally. It is also possible to apply for an EIN by fax or by mail.

Businesses must obtain an EIN to use when they:

  • Pay employees.
  • File business tax returns.
  • Start a business bank account.
  • Obtain a business loan.

New Jersey Entity ID

When New Jersey issues the Certificate of Formation, it will display another identifying business number, a 10-digit number termed an Entity ID. This is used to identify corporate business records pertinent to the company or corporation.

DBA Registration for Sole Proprietors

For a sole proprietorship or a partnership, registration rules are enacted and implemented on a county basis. Each county in the state has slightly different rules and procedures about how this is accomplished.

In Union County, for example, a sole proprietor or partners in a general partnership must file a Trade Name Certificate with the county clerk. The principal must sign the original application and three copies in the presence of a notary.

These must be delivered to the Union County Clerk's Office, together with a self-addressed, stamped envelope and the filing fee of $54. Search recorded Trade Name Certificates in Union County on their Property Search website.

Employer Registration for New Businesses

Every business in New Jersey must register with the New Jersey Department of Taxation’s Division of Revenue & Enterprise Services (DORES) before beginning to do business in the state. The purpose of this registration is to provide information to state officials that allows them to determine taxes and other contributions that the business may owe.

Prerequisites to registration include:

  • Obtaining the Entity ID for the business, unless it is a sole proprietorship or general partnership.
  • Getting the business' NAICS code, an eight-digit number that describes the industry classification for the business, such as agriculture, finance or real estate.
  • Presenting sales tax collection information.
  • Identifying anticipated first payroll withholding date for companies with employees.

Receipt of New Jersey Tax ID

After completing the business registration, the company receives a New Jersey Tax ID, which is often the same number as the EIN with three additional digits added. It will also receive a Certificate of Authorization to Collect Sales Tax.

Note that the Certificate of Authorization to Collect Sale Tax is only provided to a company that is collecting sales tax. If this certificate is issued, it must be displayed in the place where the business operates.