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 Trade Name Registration

Doing Business Under More Than One Name


No person or company may do business in West Virginia under any assumed name unless a trade name registration is filed.  This requirement protects consumers against fraud by connecting each business name to a person who is responsible for that business.  

What is a Trade Name?

A trade name is any name under which you do business other than the current official name on your business registration record.   It may be:

  • a completely different name (for example, "Pizza Rosa" for "BBR, Inc.");
  • a shortened name (for example, "Kilroy's" for "Kilroy's River Restaurant, Inc."); or
  • a name which merely drops the corporate term (for example, "ZZZ Sleep Systems" for "ZZZ Sleep Systems, Inc."). 

These are some important basic principles:

  • The term "trade name" applies to all references to true name, fictitious name, and DBA name.  An out-of-state company which must use a DBA name to register in West Virginia because its original name is not available is not required to separately register the DBA as a trade name, but the DBA is still considered a trade name under the law.
  • The law sets no limits on the number of trade names which may be registered by one person or company.
  • Trade names are not "protected" from use by other companies through trade name registration.  To protect a trade name that is in actual use, a service mark or trade mark application should be considered.
  • Trade names can be sold or assigned to another company.
  • When a company ceases to use a trade name, it should withdraw the registration.
  • When a company is dissolved, terminated or withdrawn, the trade names owned by that company are terminated.
  • When a company is revoked, and does not reinstate within two years, the trade names are also terminated.

Filing a Trade Name Registration Application

Before starting to advertise or do business under another name, register your trade name with the appropriate office.

  • Individuals, sole proprietorships, general partnerships and unincorporated non-profit associations register trade names by filing a certification of trade name with the County Clerk of the county where the principal office is located, or for out-of-state companies, the county in which most of the business is conducted.
  • Corporations, limited liability companies, limited partnerships, limited liability partnerships, voluntary associations and business trusts all register trade names with the Secretary of State. 

How To Apply

Check name availability Search the Business Organizations Data System, then call (304) 558-8000 to confirm availability.  A trade name must be "distinguishable" from other active names. 
Complete the application Click here to download the form in Acrobat Reader format, enter the information, print two copies, then have an authorized officer sign the form.  Need help? See Acrobat Reader Help.
File  Submit the application and $25 fee to the Business Organizations Division.  See Ordering & Payment for more information. 

Withdrawing a Trade Name

West Virginia Code §47-8-4 states:  "Upon discontinuing the use of a registered trade name the certificate of registration of trade name shall be withdrawn by filing a certificate of withdrawal with the office of the secretary of state setting forth the name to be discontinued, the real name, the address of the party transacting business and the date upon which the original certificate of registration of trade name was filed."