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Starting a Business: Getting a Name

How to register a business name in Nebraska

A business name registered with the state is also known as a DBA (Doing Business As), trade name, or fictitious name

Approximate Cost: $233.82
Approximate Time: Five business days

Overview of Steps

  1. Decide on a name
  2. Fill in the online form
  3. Print and sign the form - $0.10
  4. Scan and submit the signed form - $103
  5. Wait for confirmation email - 1 business day
  6. Contact newspaper to get notice published - $130.72
  7. Wait for publication and affidavit from newspaper - 3 business days
  8. Submit affidavit online and wait for confirmation email - 1 business day

Important Notes

  • This is based on my experience in Nebraska. While most of this advice may apply in other places, you should check on the process in your particular state
  • I am not a lawyer. This article is not a substitute for professional legal advice
  • This is based on how it went for me on August 14, 2017. Your "mileage" may vary
When you might want to register a business name:
  • When your business is a sole proprietorship and you want to do business under a business name instead of only your own name
  • When your business is incorporated and you also want to do business under a different name besides your corporate name
Banking: I wanted to start building my brand and be able to deposit checks made out to my business name instead of my name. As for depositing checks, that will depend on the requirements of your particular bank. For example, I registered a business name, then tried to open a business bank account under that name for depositing checks, etc. In the case of my bank, I might not have actually needed to register a business name before depositing a check made out to the business name. I recommend you first check with the requirements of your particular bank. Regardless, I feel registering the name will help you build a more professional reputation.

Before tax ID numbers: if you are also going to get a federal EIN (Employer Identification Number) from the IRS and/or state tax ID (such as Nebraska Department of Revenue ID number), I would recommend you register your business name first. That is because each of those processes asks for the registered business name.

Adding name later: Since I made the mistake of registering tax ID numbers first, once I did register the business name, I had to go through the process of getting the records updated with the IRS and Nebraska Department of Revenue, to add the business name. I requested the IRS updates with a letter, and the Nebraska updates by filing in, printing, signing, and mailing a Form 22. Of course that took some more time, printing costs, and postage.

Details of Steps

1. Decide on a name
Trademark not included: This process does not provide trademark protection. That is a separate process. When you are ready to claim the property of your business name and protect it from others using it or something similar, you will still also need to go through the appropriate process of registering a trademark
Choosing a business name is a broad topic in itself. I would recommend you first perform some of your own checking to try to make sure your chosen name is not already in use by somebody else. Also, if you eventually plan on registering the name as a trademark, you should try to make sure to chose one that would be eligible for trademark protection when you do register it.

2. Fill in the online form
Profesional services: You could use a lawyer, which would probably be the most expensive option, but might be safer. Besides lawyers there are profesional services online that offer to help people register a business name. The service fee does not include the actual legal registration fee(s). One costs about $100, but there are other cheaper options. The $100 service includes publication (a Nebraska requirement). So, I decided to do it myself, but in retrospect it may have been cheaper to use the service because publication itself ended up costing me more than $100.
At the time of writing this post, the online form for Nebraska can be found here:


3. Print and sign the form - $0.10
Since the registration requires a signature and does not yet support online signatures, you must print the paper form so you can sign it. I used Do Space to fill in the form, print it for $0.10, sign it, then scan it back in.

4. Scan and submit the signed form - $103
Do Space allows people to scan paper documents for free. I used the feature that allowed me to scan the signed form and send it to myself from the scanner by email (as a PDF).

The registration fee was $100. Nebraska accepted payment through a credit/debit card, but, unfortunately, charged $3 extra to support that.

5. Wait for confirmation email - 1 business day
Nebraska recommended to take a copy of the submitted form to a newspaper right away. But, when I contacted the newspaper the same day, they said they contacted Nebraska (the Secretary of State's office) and they had not received my registration yet. At first I was a little worried. But, I waited until the next day, then I received email confirmation from Nebraska. Then I contacted the newspaper back and they were able to proceed.

6. Contact newspaper to get notice published - $130.72
Nebraska has a requirement to get a notice published in a newspaper within a certain number of days after registration, or the registration will be canceled. The first newspaper I thought of was OWH (the Omaha World Herald). I found this page about getting legal notices published in OWH:


Apparently there is also an online form, which I didn't try but would probably work better:


I followed the instructions to email the email address to get the ad placed. Unfortunately it was going to cost $140.72. I asked them if there was a way to get it for a lower cost, and was able to get it for $130.72. I went with the OWH, but you might be able to find a lower cost way to do it.

I asked them for a copy of what it would look like first, and made sure everything looked right before confirming the order. I also asked them about the affidavit. When the notice is published, there is supposed to be an affidavit of publication signed, notarized, and sent to the Nebraska government. I asked if they would send the affidavit directly to the government, or to me. They said they would send it to me.

7. Wait for publication and affidavit from newspaper - 3 business days
In my case, the newspaper accepted the order on the 15th, and placed the ad on the 18th. They also emailed me the affidavit (as a PDF) on the 18th, and sent me a physical paper copy in the mail that arrived later.

8. Submit affidavit online and wait for confirmation email - 1 business day
I used the PDF from the email to submit the affidavit online. At the time this was written, the link to submit it was:

Steps:
  • Choose "filing for an existing entity/trade name"
  • Use "online search" and enter your business name to find your account number
  • Enter your account number
  • After continuing you will be able to select that you are filing an affidavit/proof of publication
I submitted the affidavit on a Friday and received the confirmation email on the following Monday.

Please feel free to share and comment with questions or suggestions.

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