To benefit the business community, the District allows for the registration and use of a business name (trade name) different from your true name if you are an individual, or from your corporation, partnership, or company name. The name used for your entity (corporation, partnership, LLC, etc.) does not need to be registered as your trade name; it is considered as your 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 Registration Requirement
Pursuant to D.C. Code § 47-2855.02. a person (or organization) who carries on, conducts, or transacts business in the District of Columbia under any trade name shall register that trade name with DCRA’s Superintendent of Corporations.
Questions & Answers
Do I have to register trade name?
It is up to individual customer or organization to determine as to whether trade name use will be beneficial to business operation.
If trade name is being used, then registration is required.
Can my trade name be the same as my corporate name?
The answer is no. However, under certain circumstances Corporations Division will allow for organization to register their name as the trade name (ex, “ABC Inc.” will be permitted to register “ABC” as a trade name even though 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:
(1) Name of domestic or foreign filing entity (organization) as defined by Title 29.
(2) Any reserved or register organization name;
(3) Another registered trade name;
(4) The name of an agency or instrumentality of the United States or District of Columbia or another state or a subdivision thereof.
For example, if “ABC Inc.” is registered “ABC” as the trade name is not available for registration to another organization/person.
At this point, trade names may not be shared among registered organizations. Trade name belong to one organization or person who registered the trade name first.
Can my trade name include the entity qualifier?
The answer is no but there is one exception – “company” is allowed to be a part of the trade name.
How many trade names can I register?
There is no limit as to the number of trade names 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 is 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. Trade name can be renewed 30 days before its expiration for another two years.
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 to do that.
How can I register the trade name?
You can register it online by going to CorpOnline, create a profile, access the online services main page (use Internet Explorer 8 or higher version or latest version of Chrome, Firefox, Safari) and proceed. Online filers must pay by using a credit card.