Generally, owners of businesses organized as corporations, limited liability companies and certain types of partnerships register their new names by including the name in the business formation document filed with a state agency, while sole proprietors can register their business names by filing a "doing business as" or fictitious name statement with local authorities, explains Nolo. Each state has its own rules for registering names for businesses operating within its jurisdiction, so no single registration process exists.
Registering the name of a corporation, a limited liability company or certain types of partnerships is part of the process of forming the business in whichever state serves as the company's home base. For example, a new corporation must file articles of incorporation to start doing business, and one of the document requirements is to indicate a business name that is not already in use within the state's jurisdiction, explains Nolo.
New businesses operating as sole proprietorships have the option of using the business owner's name or registering a trade name, also called a "doing business as" or fictitious name, with the state or local authorities, explains the U.S. Small Business Administration. Many states require county clerk offices to handle these types of name registrations. Corporations, LLCs and partnerships can also register a fictitious name, in addition to the company's official name used in formation documents.