Skip to content

How to Register a Business Name in South Dakota in 2023

    How to Register a Business Name in South Dakota
    (Last Updated On: September 18, 2023)

    Our content is reader-supported. We may earn a commission if you make a purchase through one of our links.


    Welcome to our guide on how to register a business name in South Dakota! Whether you’re starting a new venture or expanding your existing business to Mount Rushmore State, ensuring proper registration is vital for legal compliance and brand protection. You have several options for registering your business name, including forming an LLC or corporation or obtaining a “doing business as” (DBA) name. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through each step of the registration process, making it easier for you to navigate through the paperwork and requirements. 

    If you prefer a hassle-free experience, consider partnering with ZenBusiness, a trusted service that can handle the intricacies of registration while you focus on building your South Dakota dream business. Let’s embark on this exciting journey together and get your business name officially registered in South Dakota!

    >> Get Started With ZenBusiness >>

    4 Steps to Register Your Business Name in South Dakota

    If you’re looking to establish your business in South Dakota, registering your business name is an essential initial step. To guide you through this process smoothly, we’ve outlined four straightforward steps to officially register your business name in the state.

    Step 1: Choose Your Business Structure in South Dakota

    Selecting the right business structure is crucial as it will determine the legal and financial implications of your venture. South Dakota offers various business structures, each with its unique benefits and considerations:

    Sole Proprietorship

    A sole proprietorship is the simplest form of business ownership, where the owner and the business are considered one entity. Although it’s easy to set up, the owner assumes personal liability for the business’s debts and obligations. Unlike some other structures, a sole proprietorship does not require registration with the state, but local permits and licenses may be necessary.

    General Partnership

    A general partnership involves two or more individuals sharing ownership, profits, and losses. Each partner is personally responsible for the partnership’s debts and legal obligations. While there’s no need to register a general partnership with the state, you may have to file a “South Dakota Assumed Business Name Certificate” (DBA) in the county where your business operates.

    Limited Partnership (LP)

    A limited partnership consists of general partners with unlimited liability and limited partners who contribute capital but have restricted liability. To establish an LP in South Dakota, you must file a “Certificate of Limited Partnership” with the South Dakota Secretary of State.

    Limited Liability Company (LLC)

    An LLC offers a combination of liability protection and tax benefits similar to a corporation while maintaining the simplicity of a partnership. To register an LLC in South Dakota, you need to file “Articles of Organization Limited Liability Company” with the Secretary of State and create an Operating Agreement outlining the company’s structure and management.


    A corporation is a distinct legal entity from its shareholders, providing limited liability protection. South Dakota offers two types of corporations: C-corporations and S-corporations. 

    Creating a corporation requires filing “Articles of Incorporation For-Profit Corporation” or “Articles of Incorporation Nonprofit Corporation” with the South Dakota Secretary of State, depending on your business type. Corporations also involve additional formalities, such as establishing bylaws, issuing stock, and conducting regular board and shareholder meetings.

    Choosing the right business structure in South Dakota is essential to ensure legal compliance and protect your personal assets. Consider the advantages and disadvantages of each structure, and consult with legal or business professionals if needed. 

    Once you’ve decided on a structure, follow the necessary registration procedures with the South Dakota Secretary of State to establish your business officially. With proper planning and guidance, your business can thrive in the dynamic economic landscape of South Dakota.

    >> Register Your South Dakota Business Name with ZenBusiness >>

    Step 2: Select a Unique Business Name in South Dakota

    In South Dakota, you have several options for naming your business, each offering distinct advantages and legal protections. The naming approach you choose will depend on your specific needs and preferences. Here are the three main methods to consider:

    Registering a legal entity name is a crucial step in the process of setting up your business. This name serves as the official identifier of your company as recognized by the state. To ensure exclusivity and avoid conflicts with other businesses, your chosen name must be distinctive and not already in use.

    South Dakota’s naming laws require you to include the appropriate company suffix (such as LLC, LP, or Corp) based on your business structure. Moreover, the name should accurately represent the type of business you’re registering. Before finalizing your choice, it’s essential to verify name availability using the database provided by the South Dakota Secretary of State.


    Obtaining a trademark provides valuable intellectual property protection for your business name or logo at the national level. Conducting a thorough search in the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) database is vital to ensure your desired name or logo isn’t already registered by another entity.

    Once your trademark is registered, you gain exclusive rights to use the name or logo for similar goods or services across the country. However, it’s important to note that a federal trademark doesn’t automatically grant universal usage rights in all circumstances.

    Doing Business As (DBA)

    South Dakota allows you to operate your business under a different name, known as a Doing Business As (DBA) name. This option is ideal if you want to conduct business under an alias while maintaining your legal entity name.

    To establish a DBA, you’ll need to file an Assumed Business Name Certificate with the county clerk’s office where your business is located. While federal trademark laws do apply to DBAs, there is no requirement for these names to be unique at the state level.

    Selecting and registering your business name in South Dakota is a crucial step toward building a successful brand. Whether you choose to register a legal entity name, secure a trademark, or operate under a DBA, each method offers specific benefits for protecting your brand identity. 

    Take the time to research and consider your options carefully to ensure your chosen name is both distinctive and legally safeguarded. By doing so, you can confidently establish your business and thrive in South Dakota’s vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem.

    >> Try Out ZenBusiness Now >>

    Step 3: Check Business Name Availability in South Dakota

    Before proceeding with registering your business, it’s essential to confirm whether the desired name is available or not. In South Dakota, another business might already be operating under the same name. To conduct a thorough search for business name availability, you should perform three types of searches:

    To begin, check if the name you want for your South Dakota business is federally trademarked. Trademarks at the federal level take precedence over state-level registrations. To do this, access the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) website and utilize the TESS Search tool. If your preferred name is trademarked, you’ll need to choose a different business name.

    >> File a Trademark with IncFile >>

    After verifying that your name isn’t trademarked, you need to ensure its availability for use within South Dakota. Utilize the South Dakota Business Information Search tool to find registered business names in the state. In this search, make sure your exact business name is available and that there are no significantly similar names being used by other businesses.

    Once you’ve confirmed that your business name isn’t trademarked and is available in South Dakota, it’s also wise to check if the .com version of your business name is available as a domain. While not every business may require a website, securing the .com domain version of your business name is recommended whenever possible.

    By registering the .com domain of your business name with ZenBusiness, you secure exclusive rights to the website name, safeguarding it from potential unauthorized use at an affordable cost.

    Step 4: Form Your Business With the State of South Dakota

    Once you have decided on the structure and name for your business, the next step is to officially register it with the State of South Dakota. To achieve this, you will need to submit your formation documents to the state authorities, initiating the registration process.

    For a South Dakota LLC, you must file the Articles of Organization with the South Dakota Secretary of State. This can be done either online or through traditional mail. If you’re forming a South Dakota corporation, you’ll need to submit the Articles of Incorporation to the South Dakota Secretary of State.

    You May Also Want to Know

    Protect Your Business Name With a Trademark

    After ensuring that your chosen business name is available and securing it for your use, you may consider applying for a trademark. While this option isn’t mandatory, it can be beneficial in providing your business with nationwide protection supported by federal law. This means that if others attempt to operate under the same or a similar name as yours, you will have legal rights to defend your brand. The process usually costs around $225 to $400, plus any attorney fees, along with a renewal fee every ten years.

    However, for small startups or local businesses, obtaining a trademark may not be necessary unless they have plans to expand nationally.

    >> File a Trademark with IncFile >>

    How to File a South Dakota Fictitious Name – DBA?

    To file a South Dakota Fictitious Name (DBA), follow these steps:

    1. Choose a Name: Select a unique and distinctive business name that’s not already in use by another company in South Dakota
    1. Verify Availability: Check the South Dakota Secretary of State’s business name database to ensure that the name you want to use is available for registration
    1. Complete the Application: Obtain the “Application for Registration of Trade Name” form from the South Dakota Secretary of State’s website or office
    1. Provide Information: Fill out the application form with accurate information, including your chosen fictitious name, your legal name (if applicable), business address, and other required details
    1. Notarize the Application: Have the application notarized before submitting it. A notary public must witness your signature on the form
    1. Pay the Fee: Include the required filing fee with your application. The fee may vary, so check the current fee on the Secretary of State’s website
    1. Submit the Application: Mail or deliver the completed and notarized application, along with the filing fee, to the South Dakota Secretary of State’s office
    1. Wait for Processing: After submission, the Secretary of State’s office will process your application. Once approved, your fictitious name will be registered

    Remember that filing a DBA allows you to operate your business under a different name without changing your legal business entity name. It’s essential to comply with the registration requirements to ensure the legitimacy and protection of your business name.

    How to Change the Name of a South Dakota Business?

    If you wish to change your business name in South Dakota, there are two methods available:

    1. Filing for a DBA Name: The simplest way to operate your business under a different name without altering its legal name is to apply for a “Doing Business As” (DBA) name. This option is available for sole proprietorships, general partnerships, as well as LLCs and corporations. By choosing this approach, you can use brand names that do not require the inclusion of the “LLC” or “Inc.” suffix mandated in the legal name.
    1. Submitting an Amendment: If you desire to officially change the legal name of your LLC or corporation, the best course of action is to file an amendment to the existing business name. 

    This process involves submitting an Application for Amended Articles of Organization for Domestic LLCs or an Application for Amended Articles of Incorporation for Domestic Business Corporations. Both options require a $60 filing fee and must be sent via mail.

    >> Get Expert Assistance from ZenBusiness >>

    Business Name Registration Laws in South Dakota

    In South Dakota, business name registration is typically handled through the South Dakota Secretary of State’s office. Here are some key points regarding laws are as follows:

    • Business Entity Type: The process and requirements for business name registration can vary based on the type of business entity you’re establishing. Common business entity types include sole proprietorships, partnerships, Limited Liability Companies (LLCs), and corporations.
    • Name Availability Search: Before registering a business name, it’s essential to conduct a name availability search to ensure that the desired name isn’t already in use by another business in the state. The search helps avoid potential conflicts and legal issues.
    • Name Reservation: If you want to secure a specific business name for your company before officially forming the business entity, South Dakota allows you to reserve the name for a specific period (usually 120 days) by filing a Name Reservation application.
    • Business Entity Registration: Once you have a unique and available name, you can proceed with registering your business entity. The registration process and required documents will depend on the type of business entity you’re forming.
    • Trade Name Registration (DBA): If you’re operating as a sole proprietorship or partnership and wish to conduct business under a name different from your legal name, you may need to file a “Doing Business As” (DBA) or trade name registration.
    • State and Local Permits/Licenses: Depending on the nature of your business, you might need to obtain various state and local permits and licenses to operate legally. Requirements vary based on the industry and location.

    It’s important to note that laws and requirements can change, so it recommends visiting the official website of the South Dakota Secretary of State or seeking legal advice to get the most current and accurate information on business name registration in South Dakota.

    Bottom Line on How to Register a Business Name in South Dakota

    In conclusion, registering a business name in South Dakota is a crucial step toward realizing your entrepreneurial dreams in this dynamic state. By carefully selecting a unique business structure and name, completing all required registrations and licenses, and considering trademark protection if necessary, you set the stage for a successful business venture. 

    Utilizing professional LLC services like ZenBusiness can further streamline the registration process, providing expert guidance and support along the way. With determination and enthusiasm, you’re now ready to make a significant impact on South Dakota’s thriving business landscape, with your registered business name leading the charge.

    >> Use ZenBusiness To Register a Business Name in South Dakota >>

    How to register a business name in every US state: