Choosing a name for your business is often a more complicated process than many people realize. In fact, you must take several important steps to ensure that the name you choose is available, registered, and legally recognized by the State of Arizona.
You will need to complete additional steps if the name you use daily differs from the company’s legal name. When starting an LLC in Arizona, you will file articles of organization that designate the legal name of your LLC. Your company’s legal name must make it clear that the business is a limited liability company by including those words or an acceptable abbreviation (such as LLC) within the name. However, you may prefer to use a simplified name for marketing or brand identification purposes.
If you plan to use a name that is different from your LLC’s legal name, or if you are not planning to create an LLC, you should register that name. In most states, this is referred to as a “Doing Business As” or “DBA” name. Because Arizona does not officially recognize DBA names, you will need to register your business name as a trade name. Registering a trade name protects your right to use that name for your business.
While the State of Arizona does not allow you to register a “Doing Business As” or “DBA” name, you can register a “trade name”, which is a very similar process. A trade name allows you to use a name other than the official name you chose when you created your LLC or to use a business name without creating an LLC. All types of business entities can register a trade name, including corporations, partnerships, and even sole proprietorships. Once your trade name is registered with the State of Arizona, it is protected and cannot be used by another business.
Why go to the trouble of registering a trade name if it is not the legal name of your business? Not all businesses need a trade name; however, there are several important benefits to registering one for businesses that choose to do so, including:
Registering a trade name for your Arizona business offers numerous advantages; however, you should also understand the disadvantages and limitations, such as:
If you formed an LLC (or another legal entity) for your business, and you plan to consistently use the official name chosen for that legal entity when conducting business, a trade name is not necessary. You are not legally required to register a trade name in Arizona. On the other hand, if you plan to use a name that differs from the official name of your business, you should register that name as a trade name.
If you decide that your business could benefit from a trade name, registering that name with the State of Arizona is imperative. The registration process is not particularly complex; however, you must follow through with each step to make sure your trade name is accepted and registered by the state.
Two primary reasons for registering a trade name are to set your business apart from other businesses and ensure that no one else can use the name for their business. It should come as no surprise then that the proposed trade name you choose must be distinctive and distinguishable from others already registered with the State of Arizona. Furthermore, the trade name may not be one that might falsely imply affiliation with local, state, or federal government unless you have the proper authorization from the governmental authority.
Before you settle on a trade name for your business – and definitely before you start using the name – you need to make sure the name is not already registered by another business. To make sure your desired trade name is available, conduct a search on the Arizona Secretary of State (AZSOS) “Entity Search” page. If you find a registered name very similar to yours, consider using another name as your trade name may not be approved.
If you have settled on a trade name that you believe is unique enough to be approved and not currently in use, the next step is to file a Trade Name Application with the Arizona Secretary of State.
Your Trade Name Application can be filed online through the Arizona Secretary of State (AZSOS) website. The cost for filing online is $10.
You can also download the Trade Name Application, complete it, and file it by mail addressed to:
Secretary of State Attn: Trade Name & Trademark Dept.
1700 W. Washington Street, Fl. 7
Phoenix, AZ 85007-2808
Enclose a check or money order for the $10 fee payable to Secretary of State.
If you are in the Phoenix or Tucson areas, you also have the option to download the Trade Name Application, complete it, and file it in person at:
Phoenix Office State Capitol Executive Tower, 1700 W. Washington Street, Second Floor, Ste. 220
Tucson Office Arizona State Complex Building, 400 W. Congress, First Floor, Ste. 141
Bring a check or money order with you for the $10 fee payable to Secretary of State.
Without realizing the possible consequences, people often operate a business using a name that has not been registered as a trade name with the State of Arizona. In that case, what happens? What are the consequences of using an unregistered trade name? Although there are no direct legal ramifications of using a trade name that has not been registered, there are other potential negative consequences.
On a practical note, you may not be able to open bank accounts, enter into contracts, and conduct business if you use an unregistered trade name. Furthermore, failing to register a trade name different from your legal business name can create confusion and even be viewed as deceptive by those with whom you do business.
Another potential consequence of using an unregistered trade name may mean you are infringing on the rights of a company with a registered trade name. That could lead to costly and time-consuming litigation.
Because a trade name is only a name you use on a day-to-day basis for your business, there are no tax consequences associated with registering a trade name. In other words, registering a trade name does not alter or impact your tax filing status or your business’s tax obligations. Regardless, it is in your best interest to consult with a tax professional to ensure that you understand the tax rules and obligations applicable to your Arizona LLC.
Registering a trade name with the State of Arizona offers several advantages that can contribute to the overall success of your business. Understanding and following the steps involved in registering a trade name can make the task relatively quick and easy. If you plan to use your trade name for an LLC you have yet to create, you may find helpful information on our “How to Start an LLC in Arizona” page.
This portion of our website is for informational purposes only. Tailor Brands is not a law firm, and none of the information on this website constitutes or is intended to convey legal advice. All statements, opinions, recommendations, and conclusions are solely the expression of the author and provided on an as-is basis. Accordingly, Tailor Brands is not responsible for the information and/or its accuracy or completeness.
Shai Shmarel started his life as a corporate lawyer before switching to being an SEO and Content Manager at Tailor Brands. He has experience in managing companies, rankings SERPs and covering a content-driven approach for all things legal, business and marketing. When off work, you’ll usually find him chilling with a cup of coffee and a book in the desert.