Registering Your Business Name FAQ

Why register your business name?

​The main reason to register your business name is to tell the public - and other businesses - who is doing business under that name.

The law requires people doing business in Oregon under an assumed name to register it as a public record with the Oregon Secretary of State Corporation Division. This registration lets the public know that the holder of the name intends to do business under that name. It both aids business owners in establishing their name with other businesses and gives the public contact information for legal proceedings. It's just like when you create a business, such as a corporation or limited liability company, the required organization documents must be filed with us.

Those who do business with an unregistered assumed business name may not have standing in court to pursue o​r defend legal actions. They also may find it difficult to do business, for example, getting licenses, opening bank accounts and entering into contracts.​​​

Is a DBA the same thing as an assumed business name?

​An assumed business name is also commonly known as a ​DBA, or “doing business as.”​​​

What names are available?

​The business name must be available for registration purposes, meaning that no other business with exactly the same name has an active, or up-to-date, registration with us. There can be businesses of record with the same name which are no longer active. There can be businesses in other states or countries that do business under that name. There can even be businesses in Oregon operating under that name, but have not yet registered.

In short, our records don't include every business that is using a given name. If the name is not already taken by an active registration, it’s available for you to register in the public record.​​​

What makes a name distinguishable?

​The law requires the Secretary of State to accept names that are "di​stinguishable upon the record." That term means a business name is distinguishable if it doesn't copy a name already on record. A word or even a letter’s difference in a name can be enough to tell it apart from another name in the database. It's important to note that assumed business names are filed by county. The database can contain identical names which are associated with different counties.


What does the statute say about distinguishable on record? - OAR 160-010-0012

​For purposes of the reservation, registration or use of a name under ORS chapters 58, 60, 62, 63, 65, 67, 70, 128, 554, and 648, a name is distinguishable on the records of the Secretary of State Business Registry office from the name of any other active organized entity, and from a reserved or registered name, if 

  1. ​Each name contains one or more different letters or numerals, or has a different sequence of letters or numerals, except that adding or deleting the letter “s” to make a word plural, singular or possessive shall not cause a name to be distinguishable;
  2. One of the key words is different;
  3. The key words are the same, but they are in a different order; or
  4. The key words are the same, but the spelling is creative or unusual.
  5. The difference in key words is between how a number is expressed, as a numeral, Roman numeral, or word representing a numeral.

Basically, a business name is distinguishable if it does not copy a name already on record. A word or even a one-letter difference in a name is often enough to tell it apart from another name in the database. In addition, an assume​d business name is filed by county, so there may be identical names in the database, each of which is associated with different counties.​

Are all businesses required to register and use an assumed business name?

​If the name of your business includes the "real and true" name of each owner, then you don't have to use or register an assumed business name. A real and true name refers to your first name, middle initial or name, and last name. For example, if your name is Tom G. Sorenson, and you conduct business under the name Tom G. Sorenson Construction, you would not be required to register an assumed business name. For corporations, limited liability companies and other busi​ness entities, the business name registered with the Corporation Division is the real and true name of the business - no additional name registration is required. An assumed business name is only required for entities like corporations and LLCs if they are conducting business under a name other than the registered name for the entity.​​​

Does registering a name mean that I have a license?

​Registering your business name with the Corporation Division is not the same as getting a license. Contact the city or county you’re doing business in to obtain a​ license.​​

What number do I use to buy wholesale?

​The state of Oregon does ​not assign resale numbers for wholesale purchase. Use your business registry number to buy wholesale.​​

Protecting and defending your business name?

​Registering your name doesn’t give you the right to use it.

The law requires business owners to register a public record of assumed business names and entities such as corporations. However, the authority to use the name comes only through asserting those rights through use and legal action. 

Registering your name doesn’t imply you can legally use it. For example, you might be able to register “Starbucks Coffee and Tea” with us, but the real Starbucks could still sue you. Also, someone may register a business name that is like yours but not exactly the same. That doesn’t suggest they have a right to use that name. It just means they’ve told the public they want to do business using that name.

Your right to your business name is established mainly by using the name in business and is enforced by legal action - not by the Corporation Division. This may mean you’ll need to sue in court to stop the offender.

If you find yourself in this situation, it is very important to get an attorney's advice. Consider what the loss of business and reputation will cost if you don’t get professional advice. A visit or two to a lawyer will cost far less than the time and expense of straightening out mix-ups with the other businesses.

To find a business attorney, consult the Oregon Bar Association’s free referral service at 800-452-7636 or ask other business owners whom they recommend.​​​​​

Are there special requirements for filing banking names?

A business name may not contain a word or phrase that implies banking or related financial activity without written authorization from the Division of Finance and Corporate Securities.

If the word or phrase is used in a manner that is not describing a banking activity, you don't need to get written approval. Some examples of business names that do not need approval are

  • Coldwell Banker Real Estate.
  • Banks Auto Parts.
  • Tim Spencer Trust Music Company.
  • Commercial Trust Cleaning.

Contact 503-378-4100 for more information.

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G​et It Done in a Flash

File a business name online.​