A DBA, which is short for doing business as, is the registration form that a business owner must file when she does business under a name other than her real name. Not all states require you to register a DBA, but Massachusetts does. In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the law requires business owners to register a DBA to create a public record of the name and address of the true owner of a business. According to Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 110, Section 5, DBA registrations are required for "any person conducting business in the Commonwealth under any title other than the real name of the person conducting the business, whether individually or as a partnership." For example, if your name is Kent Plank and your business is Plank's Carpentry, you're using a name other than your real name and must register your business as a DBA. Similarly, if a corporation is named "Waldo's Wonders" in its articles of incorporation but the corporation wants to do business under a different name, the owner would have to register that name as a fictitious business name. In Massachusetts, you register a DBA in the city or town in which you do business.
Go to the website of the clerk's office in the city or town where you do business. According to Massachusetts General Laws, you must register in every municipality in which you do business -- not with the Secretary of State. However, if you created a corporation with the Secretary of State and the corporation is doing business under the corporation's name, you don't need to register with the local municipality. For example, if you create the corporation "Frank's Chocolate" and register with the Secretary of State, you don't have to register "Frank's Chocolate" with the municipality in which you do business.
Read More: How to Establish a DBA
Download the DBA registration form. Some municipalities don't have online registration, so in those instances, call the clerk's office for that municipality and ask them to mail you a form. Or, go to the clerk's office to get a paper copy.
Complete the DBA registration form. Generally, you need to include your name, address and phone number, as well as the name, address and phone number of any other business owners, the DBA you want to use and the address at which the business operates. For unincorporated businesses, such as sole proprietorships and partnerships, you only need to include the name and contact information for the business owners. Company officers or employees who are not owners do not need to be included on the DBA registration form. However, if the corporation is registering the DBA, you must provide the corporate name and address, plus the name and title of the signing officer. Once you've completed the form, have the form notarized.
Submit the DBA registration, along with the required fee, to the clerk's office to complete the registration process.
In Massachusetts, if you plan to do business out of your home and are not the owner of the property, (if you are a renter, for example), you must get permission from the property owner to set up a DBA on the owner's property. Usually, this involves questions such as how many cars will be parked on the street and how many visitors will be entering the premises. The property owner needs to know whether or not the business might disrupt the neighborhood.
You can be fined for each month you operate your business under a DBA without registering it in Massachusetts.
- Massachusetts Small Business Development Center: FAQs
- Concord, Massachusetts: Business Certificates
- Town of Brookline: Business Certificate (DBA)
- Lowell, MA: Filing a Business Certificate
- U.S. Small Business Association: Register Your Fictitious or "Doing Business As" (DBA) Name
- The Commonwealth of Massachusetts: General Laws: Chapter 110, Section 5
- Concord, Massachusetts: Business Certificate
Mark Kennan is a writer based in the Kansas City area, specializing in personal finance and business topics. He has been writing since 2009 and has been published by "Quicken," "TurboTax," and "The Motley Fool."