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Reserve or Register a Trade Name

Corporate Registration Logo

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”.

Questions & Answers

Can my trade name be the same as my corporate name?

The answer is no.

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 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, Chrome, Firefox, Safari) and proceed. Online filers must pay by using a credit card. Once filing is submitted, print the last confirmation page for your records.

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