How to Register a Fictitious Business Name in Maryland

By Marcello Viridis

If you are a business using a name other than your personal name or the business name registered with the Maryland secretary of state, you are making use of a "fictitious" or "trade name." Under Maryland law, any business using a trade name must register it with the Department of Assessment and Taxation.

Select a trade name and check if it is available for use. The secretary of state maintains a business name database that you can access to search for your proposed trade name. A trade name must be original, unique and accurate. If your business is a sole proprietorship, your trade name cannot imply that it is a corporation. Furthermore, if the name is already in use as a business name or trade name, you will not be able to use it.

Obtain a "trade name application" for the Maryland State Department of Assessment and Taxation (SDAT). The application is available online or you can pick up a hard copy at the SDAT office.

State Department of Assessments and Taxation

Charter Division

301 W. Preston St., Room 801

Baltimore, MD 21201

Complete the trade name application in full. Only one application per trade name is allowed. Be sure to include the name and address of the trade name owner, a description of your business and all appropriate signatures.

File the application and the filing fee of $25, as of 2010, with MDAT. Filings can be done by fax, mail or in person. Generally, the application review process takes about two months, but there is an expedited application process that will complete the review in seven days as well as a limited "hand-delivered" service that will review the application the same day. Expedited services require an additional fee of $50, as of 2010.

About the Author

Marcello Viridis has been "working in writing" for the past six years. Since publishing his first article in 2004, he has written on a range topics from working and living overseas for the Wall Street Journal's Black Collegian website to legal essays for the Encyclopedia of American Civil Liberties. Viridis has a B.A. from Pomona College and a J.D. from Lewis and Clark Law School.

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