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How to Register a Business Name in Michigan [2023]

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

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    Welcome to our guide on how to register a business name in Michigan! Whether you’re starting a new venture or expanding your existing business to the Great Lakes State, ensuring proper business name registration is crucial for legal compliance and brand recognition. 

    From choosing between an LLC, corporation, or a “doing business as” (DBA) name, we’ll walk you through the process step-by-step. If you’re seeking a seamless and stress-free registration experience, consider partnering with ZenBusiness. Together, let’s pave the way for your Michigan business success!

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    4 Steps to Register Your Business Name in Michigan

    Registering your business name in Michigan is a crucial step toward establishing your entrepreneurial presence in the state. To help you through this process, here are four simple steps to get your business name officially registered in Michigan:

    Step 1: Choose Your Business Structure in Michigan

    Before registering your business name in Michigan, it’s essential to select the right business entity type. Here are the various options available:

    Sole Proprietorship

    The simplest form of business in Michigan is the sole proprietorship, where the business owner and the business are considered one entity. However, keep in mind that the owner assumes personal responsibility for the business’s debts and liabilities. While there is no requirement to register a sole proprietorship with the state, you may need to obtain local permits or licenses.

    General Partnership

    For businesses with two or more owners who share profits and losses, a general partnership is a viable option. Like sole proprietorships, there is no need to register a general partnership with the state, but you might have to file a “Michigan Assumed Name Certificate” (DBA) in the county where the business operates.

    Limited Partnership (LP)

    A limited partnership in Michigan consists of general partners with unlimited personal liability and limited partners with limited liability. To establish an LP, you must file a “Certificate of Limited Partnership” with the Michigan Secretary of State.

    Limited Liability Company (LLC)

    The LLC is a popular choice for many entrepreneurs, offering liability protection similar to a corporation and the tax advantages and simplicity of a partnership. To create an LLC in Michigan, you need to file an “Articles of Organization Limited Liability Company” with the Michigan Secretary of State and draft an Operating Agreement outlining the company’s management and ownership structure.


    A corporation is a separate legal entity from its shareholders, providing limited liability protection. Michigan recognizes two types of corporations: C-corporations and S-corporations. 

    To establish a corporation, you must file either “Articles of Incorporation For-Profit Corporation” or “Articles of Incorporation Nonprofit Corporation” with the Michigan Secretary of State, depending on your business type. Corporations involve additional formalities, such as drafting bylaws, issuing stock, and conducting regular board and shareholder meetings.

    Selecting the most suitable business structure in Michigan depends on your liability protection, taxation, and management requirements. If you need guidance in making this decision, consider consulting a legal or business professional.

    In conclusion, registering your business name in Michigan involves choosing the right business structure and completing the necessary paperwork with the Michigan Secretary of State. By following these steps and seeking expert advice if needed, you can set your business up for success in the state.

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    Step 2: Select a Unique Business Name in Michigan

    Naming your business in Michigan involves several options, each offering unique benefits and protections. Whether you decide to register a legal entity name, obtain a trademark, or opt for a Doing Business As (DBA) name, it’s essential to understand the regulations and requirements specific to the state.

    The naming approach you take will depend on the individual needs and circumstances of your business. While you have the flexibility to pursue all three options for maximum exclusivity, it’s advisable to use the same name consistently across all registrations.

    Let’s explore the details of each naming option available in Michigan:

    In Michigan, it’s mandatory to register a legal entity name that will officially identify your company to the state. To ensure distinction and protection from potential name conflicts, entity names must be unique. Michigan’s naming laws also dictate specific guidelines for company suffixes (e.g., LLC, LP, Corp) to accurately reflect the business type. You can verify name availability using the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) database.


    A trademark in Michigan provides intellectual property protection for your business name or logo at a national level. To safeguard your name or logo, it’s crucial to conduct a thorough search in the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) database to check for existing registrations. 

    Once your trademark is registered, it grants exclusivity and prevents others from using a similar name or logo for similar goods or services, offering nationwide protection. However, obtaining a trademark does not automatically grant the right to use the name or logo in all circumstances.

    Doing Business As (DBA) Name

    Michigan allows businesses to operate under an official name while using a different one known as a Doing Business As (DBA) name. To establish a DBA, you must file a Certificate of Assumed Name with the county clerk’s office where your business operates. Unlike legal entity names, DBAs are subject to federal trademark laws, but they do not require uniqueness at the state level.

    By familiarizing yourself with these naming options and adhering to Michigan’s guidelines, you can effectively register your business name and protect your brand identity. Choose a name that reflects your business’s vision and values while ensuring it remains exclusive and legally compliant.

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    Step 3: Check Business Name Availability in Michigan

    Before registering your business in Michigan, it’s essential to ensure that the name you intend to use is available. To do this, you should conduct three types of searches to check for any existing business names that may conflict with yours:

    Begin by conducting a federal trademark search to ensure that your preferred business name isn’t already trademarked at the national level. To perform this search, visit the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) website and use their TESS Search tool. If your chosen name is already trademarked, you will need to select a different business name.

    >> File a Trademark with IncFile >>

    After confirming that your business name isn’t trademarked, proceed to check its availability within the state of Michigan. You can do this by using the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) business entity search. This search will help you ensure that your exact business name is available and that there are no significantly similar names being used by other businesses in Michigan.

    Once you have verified that your business name is available for use in Michigan and isn’t trademarked, it’s a good idea to check if the .com version of your business name is also available as a domain. While not every business may need a website, securing the .com domain, if possible, is recommended as it can prevent potential confusion and competition in the future.

    Register the .com version of your business name with ZenBusiness to protect it from potential misuse. Securing your website domain for a minimal cost ensures exclusivity and safeguards your brand identity.

    By performing these three searches, you can confidently proceed with registering your business in Michigan, knowing that your chosen name is unique and available for use.

    Step 4: Form Your Business With the State of Michigan

    After deciding on your business structure and name, the next step is to officially form your business by registering it with the State of Michigan.

    For a Michigan LLC, you will need to file the Articles of Organization with the Michigan Corporations Division. This can be done either online or by mail. If you’re forming a Michigan corporation, you’ll need to file the Articles of Incorporation with the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.

    You May Also Want to Know

    Protect Your Business Name With a Trademark

    Once you’ve confirmed the availability of your business name and secured it, you have the option to apply for a trademark. The cost of this typically ranges from $225 to $400, and you may also need to cover attorney fees. A trademark provides nationwide protection under federal law, giving you legal recourse if others attempt to use a similar name for their business. However, for most small businesses operating locally, a trademark may not be necessary.

    >> File a Trademark with IncFile >>

    How to File a Michigan Fictitious Name – DBA?

    To file a Michigan Fictitious Name, also known as a “Doing Business As” (DBA) name, follow these steps:

    1. Choose a Name: Select a fictitious name that you want to use for your business. Make sure it’s unique and not already in use by another business in Michigan.
    1. Check Name Availability: Verify the availability of the chosen DBA name by searching the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) website or contacting their office.
    1. Fill Out the Form: Obtain the “Certificate of Assumed Name” form from the LARA website or their office. Complete the form with accurate information, including your business name, address, and the fictitious name you wish to use.
    1. Notarize the Form: Sign the Certificate of Assumed Name in the presence of a notary public.
    1. File the Form: Submit the completed and notarized form to the LARA office along with the required filing fee. As of my last update in September 2021, the filing fee is $25.
    1. Publish the Notice (for partnerships): If your business is a partnership, you may need to publish a notice of your new fictitious name in a local newspaper for a specific duration as required by Michigan law.

    It’s recommended to check the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs website for the most current and accurate information on filing a DBA in Michigan.

    How to Change the Name of a Michigan Business?

    If you decide to change your business name in Michigan, there are two methods to do so:

    1. Filing for an assumed name (also known as a DBA name): This is the simplest way to operate your business under a different name without legally changing its original name. It’s particularly useful for sole proprietorships, general partnerships, LLCs, and corporations that want to operate under brand names without using the required LLC or Inc. suffix.
    1. Filing an amendment to the legal name: If you wish to change the legal name of your LLC or corporation, you can do so by submitting a Certificate of Amendment. This method is more suitable when you want to officially alter the legal name of your business.

    For either option, you can submit the necessary forms by mail or in-person, along with the required filing fee: $25 for LLCs or $10 for corporations.

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    Business Name Registration Laws in Michigan

    Here are some key points regarding business name registration laws in Michigan:

    • Business Entity Type: Before registering a business name in Michigan, you need to decide on the type of business entity you want to establish. Common options include Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, Corporation, and Limited Liability Company (LLC).
    • Search for Name Availability: Once you have a business entity type in mind, you should conduct a name search to ensure that the name you want to use is available and not already in use by another business in Michigan. The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) website provides a name search tool for this purpose.
    • Trade Names and Fictitious Names: If you plan to operate your business under a name that differs from your legal business name, you may need to register a trade name or fictitious name (also known as “Doing Business As” or DBA name) with the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA).
    • Registration Process: The process for registering your business name may vary depending on your chosen business entity type. For some business types, like LLCs and corporations, the name registration process may be part of the overall business formation process. For others, like sole proprietorships and partnerships, you might need to file a separate form for the trade name or DBA registration.
    • Michigan Business Entity Search: You can use the Michigan LARA website to search for registered business entities and verify the availability of your desired business name.

    Please note that laws and regulations can change over time, so it’s crucial to check with official state authorities or legal professionals for the most up-to-date information regarding business name registration in Michigan. 

    Bottom Line on How to Register a Business Name in Michigan

    To summarize, registering your business name in Michigan is the gateway to an exciting entrepreneurial adventure. By choosing a distinctive name and appropriate business structure, fulfilling all essential registrations, and giving thought to trademark protection or a DBA name, you set the stage for a prosperous venture. 

    Leverage the expertise of LLC services like ZenBusiness to ensure a seamless registration process, enabling your registered business name to stand out in Michigan’s diverse business environment.

    >> Use ZenBusiness To Register a Business Name in Michigan >>

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