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How to Register a Business Name in Maryland: Ultimate Guide

    How to Register a Business Name in Maryland
    (Last Updated On: September 17, 2023)

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    Ready to establish your business in Maryland? Registering a business name in Maryland is a critical step to protect your brand and operate legally within the state. Whether you’re setting up an LLC or corporation or opting for a DBA, we’ll walk you through the registration process. Maryland’s vibrant business landscape and ample opportunities make it an ideal location for entrepreneurs like you. 

    To make the registration process seamless and efficient, consider partnering with ZenBusiness – a reliable resource that can guide you through the intricacies of Maryland’s requirements. Let’s pave the way for your business success in the Old Line State and turn your aspirations into achievements!

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    4 Steps to Register Your Business Name in Maryland

    Registering your business name in Maryland is a crucial step to establishing your presence and operating legally in the Old Line State. Follow these four simple steps to get your business name officially registered:

    Step 1: Choose Your Business Structure in Maryland

    The first step in registering a business name in Maryland is to identify the most suitable business structure for your venture. Each structure has unique features, such as liability protection, taxation implications, and management requirements. Here’s an overview of the common business structures in Maryland and their associated registration procedures:

    Sole Proprietorship

    A sole proprietorship is the simplest business structure, where the owner and the business are considered one legal entity. Personal liability for business debts and obligations is a significant drawback. While you don’t need to register a sole proprietorship with the state, obtaining local permits or licenses may be necessary.

    General Partnership

    A general partnership involves two or more individuals who share profits and losses. Similar to a sole proprietorship, a general partnership doesn’t require state registration. However, you may need to file a “Maryland Trade Name Certificate” (DBA) in the county where your business operates.

    Limited Partnership (LP)

    An LP has general partners with unlimited liability and limited partners with liability restricted to their capital contribution. To establish an LP in Maryland, you must file a “Certificate of Limited Partnership” with the Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxation.

    Limited Liability Company (LLC)

    An LLC combines the liability protection of a corporation with the tax benefits and flexibility of a partnership. To register an LLC in Maryland, you’ll need to file a “Certificate of Formation” with the Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxation and create an Operating Agreement defining the company’s management and ownership structure.


    Corporations are separate legal entities from their shareholders, providing limited liability protection. In Maryland, there are two types of corporations: C-corporations and S-corporations. 

    To establish a corporation, you must file “Articles of Incorporation” with the Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxation. Corporations entail more formalities, such as creating bylaws, issuing stock, and conducting regular board and shareholder meetings.

    Choosing the right business structure is a crucial decision when starting a business in Maryland. It affects the legal and administrative requirements your business will face and determines your personal liability and growth prospects. Each structure has its unique advantages and disadvantages, so it’s essential to weigh the options carefully. 

    Consult with legal or business professionals if you need assistance in making this important decision. Once you’ve identified the ideal structure for your business, follow the necessary registration procedures with the Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxation to get your business up and running successfully.

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    Step 2: Select a Unique Business Name in Maryland

    When starting a business in Maryland, the second most crucial step is selecting a unique and distinguishable name for your company. The process involves three main strategies: 

    The first strategy involves registering a legal entity name with the state for identification purposes. This name must be unique to avoid any duplication with existing businesses. Maryland’s naming laws specify certain requirements, including the use of appropriate company suffixes such as LLC, LP, or Corp, and ensuring the name reflects the nature of the business being registered. 

    To determine name availability, you can check the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation business database.


    Securing a trademark provides intellectual property protection for your business name or logo at the national level. Before finalizing your business name or logo, it’s crucial to conduct a thorough search in the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) database to ensure that it’s not already in use. 

    A registered trademark prevents others from using the same or similar name or logo for identical or similar goods or services, offering nationwide protection. However, it’s important to note that trademark registration does not automatically grant universal rights to use the name or logo.

    Doing Business As (DBA)

    In Maryland, businesses have the option to register under an official name and operate under another name, known as a Doing Business As (DBA) name. To use a DBA, you must file a Trade Name Registration Form with the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation. While DBA names are subject to federal trademark laws, they do not necessarily need to be unique at the state level.

    Selecting and registering a business name in Maryland is a critical aspect of establishing your company’s identity and brand presence. By understanding and utilizing the three naming strategies as explained above, you can ensure the total exclusivity of your business name and protect your brand from potential infringements. 

    Take the time to research and follow Maryland’s specific requirements for naming your business, and you will be well on your way to a successful and legally compliant start to your entrepreneurial journey.

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    Step 3: Check Business Name Availability in Maryland

    Before registering your business, it’s crucial to ensure that the name you intend to use is available. To do this, conduct three types of searches:

    Begin by performing a federal trademark search to check if your desired business name is already trademarked. Federal trademarks take precedence over state-level registrations, so it’s essential to avoid any potential conflicts. You can conduct this search on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) website using the TESS Search tool. If your chosen name is already trademarked, you’ll need to select a new name.

    Next, verify the availability of your business name, specifically in Maryland. Utilize the Maryland Business Entity Search tool to search for registered business names within the state. Ensure that your exact business name is available, and also check for any significantly similar business names already in use.

    If your business name isn’t trademarked and is available for use in Maryland, it’s prudent to check the availability of the .com domain version. Although not all businesses may plan to create a website, it’s a good idea to secure the .com domain for your business name if possible. This ensures consistency and prevents potential conflicts in the online space.

    Registering the .com version of your business name with ZenBusiness ensures exclusive ownership and protection, preventing others from using the same website name. 

    By thoroughly conducting these three searches, you can verify the availability of your business name and proceed confidently with the registration process in Maryland.

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    Step 4: Form Your Business With the State of Maryland

    After finalizing your business structure and name, the next crucial step is to formally establish your business by registering it with the State of Maryland.

    • For Maryland LLCs: To register your Maryland Limited Liability Company (LLC), you must file the Articles of Organization with the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation. This can be done either online or by mail.
    • For Maryland corporations: To register your Maryland corporation, you’ll need to submit the Articles of Incorporation to the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation.

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    You May Also Want to Know

    Protect Your Business Name With a Trademark

    If you wish to protect your business name further, you can opt to apply for a trademark. This involves additional costs, typically ranging from $225 to $400, along with possible attorney fees. Additionally, you’ll need to renew the trademark every ten years.

    While trademark protection provides nationwide recognition and legal rights, it may not be necessary for all businesses, especially startups and small ventures operating within a localized scope.

    How to File a Maryland Fictitious Name – DBA?

    To file a Maryland Fictitious Name (DBA – Doing Business As), follow these steps:

    1. Choose a Name: Select a unique and available name that you want to use for your business. Make sure it doesn’t conflict with existing registered names
    1. Search Availability: Check the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation (SDAT) website or contact them to verify if the name you want is available for registration
    1. Complete Application: Obtain the “Trade Name (DBA) Application” form from the SDAT website or their office. Fill out the form with accurate information
    1. Notarize the Application: Have the application notarized by a notary public
    1. Submit the Application: Submit the completed and notarized application to the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation. You can file it in person, by mail, or online, depending on their guidelines
    1. Pay the Fee: Pay the required filing fee, which may vary, to register your Fictitious Name (DBA)
    1. Publication (if required): In some cases, you may need to publish a notice of your new Fictitious Name in a local newspaper. Check with SDAT to see if this step applies to your situation
    1. Renewal: Remember to renew your Fictitious Name registration periodically, as required by the state

    Following these steps will allow you to successfully file a Maryland Fictitious Name (DBA), enabling you to operate your business under your chosen name.

    How to Change the Name of a Maryland Business?

    If you need to change the name of your business in Maryland, there are two methods to do so:

    1. Trade Name (DBA Name): This option is ideal for sole proprietorships, general partnerships, LLCs, and corporations that want to operate under a different name without altering their legal name. 

    A Trade Name, also known as a “Doing Business As” (DBA) name, allows you to use alternative brand names without the need for formal amendments or complicated changes to your business operations.

    1. Amendment to Legal Name: If you need to officially change the legal name of your LLC or corporation, filing an amendment is the appropriate approach. 

    You can find the relevant forms for both options:

    • Articles of Amendment for LLCs
    • Articles of Amendment for Corporations

    Ensure that the forms are typed, not handwritten, and submit them either in person or by mail, along with the required $100 filing fee to the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation.

    By following these steps, you’ll successfully form your business in Maryland, ensuring that it operates under the appropriate structure and name, with trademark protection for added security and brand recognition.

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    Business Name Registration Laws in Maryland

    In Maryland, if you plan to start a business, you will likely need to register your business name with the state. Here are some key points regarding business name registration laws in Maryland:

    • Business Entity Types: Maryland recognizes various business entity types, such as sole proprietorships, partnerships, limited liability companies (LLCs), corporations, and others. Each entity type may have different requirements and regulations for business name registration.
    • Business Name Search: Before registering a business name, it’s essential to check if the name is available and not already in use by another business in Maryland. You can conduct a name search through the Maryland Secretary of State’s website or by contacting their office.
    • Trade Name Registration: If you plan to operate your business under a name different from your legal business name (e.g., “Doing Business As” or DBA name), you will need to register the trade name. This process is typically done with the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation (SDAT).
    • Entity-Specific Requirements: Different entity types have distinct requirements for name registration. For example, corporations may have to include specific terms like “Incorporated,” “Corporation,” or an abbreviation in their business name.
    • Registration Forms and Fees: When registering your business name, you will need to fill out the appropriate forms and pay the necessary fees. The fees can vary depending on the type of entity and the services you require.
    • Renewals: Business name registrations are often valid for a certain period and may require renewal. Be sure to check the registration duration and renewal requirements for your specific entity type.
    • Business Licenses: Registering a business name does not automatically grant you all the required licenses and permits to operate legally in Maryland. Depending on your business type and location, you may need to obtain additional licenses and permits at the county or municipal level.

    It’s essential to consult with a legal professional or a business advisor familiar with Maryland’s laws and regulations to ensure you comply with all the necessary requirements. 

    Additionally, you can visit the official Maryland state government websites or contact the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation for more detailed and current information on business name registration in the state.

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    Bottom Line on How to Register a Business Name in Maryland

    Registering a business name in Maryland is a crucial process for entrepreneurs seeking legal recognition and differentiation for their ventures. Conducting a thorough name search, fulfilling all necessary paperwork, selecting the right business structure, and maintaining meticulous records are vital for compliance and protection. 

    For expert guidance and comprehensive support in the business formation journey, entrepreneurs can rely on ZenBusiness, a trusted LLC service with a wealth of resources for business formation and compliance in Maryland.

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