Choosing a Business Name



  • How can I determine if a business name is available for use?

    The PA Open for Business website provides users with the ability to determine if a name is available for use.  A user who registers a business through the Online Business Registration Interview (OBRI) may check the availability of a name through a link in the interview.  Click here to check the availability of a name without entering the OBRI



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  • What is a fictitious name?

    A fictitious name is an assumed name, other than the legal name, that an enterprise uses to conduct business in Pennsylvania. 

    In a sole proprietorship, the surname of the sole proprietor standing alone, or coupled with words that describe the business, is not a fictitious business name.   In a general partnership, the surname of all general partners standing alone, or coupled with words that describe the business is not a fictitious business name.

    Registration of a fictitious name does not provide the business entity with exclusive rights to the use of the name. There are no ownership rights to a fictitious name and the name is not protected against use by anyone else. The same fictitious name can be used repetitively by different business entities.

    The penalty for failing to register a fictitious name is that the unregistered entity may not use the courts of Pennsylvania to enforce a contract entered into using the fictitious name. The failure to register the fictitious name does not void the contract, but merely prevents such enforcement until registration. The court has the option of imposing a $500 penalty, payable to the Pennsylvania Department of State, in these instances where the entity seeks to enforce the contract and subsequently registers the fictitious name in an untimely manner.



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  • How can I get the exclusive rights to a name?

    Incorporating a business by filing Articles of Incorporation with the Pennsylvania Department of State provides a business with exclusive use of a corporate name.  A corporate name may not be the same as or confusingly similar to the name of any other corporation, limited partnership, limited liability company or limited liability partnership.



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  • How do I register a fictitious name?

    To register a fictitious business name that has been determined to be available, you must file an Application for Registration of Fictitious Name (form DSCB: 54-311) with the Pennsylvania Department of State, Corporation Bureau.

    The Pennsylvania Open for Business website provides  two ways to register a fictitious name online.   A user can either register their fictitious name online using the Online Business Registration Interview (OBRI) or download the appropriate form from the Forms section, complete the form and mail it into the Pennsylvania Department of State.  There is a fee of $70 for registering a fictitious name.



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