Business Registration - Doing Business As (DBA) and
Co-Partnerships

Business Registration is done through the County Clerk’s Office in each county you plan to do business.  Before you register your business, you can conduct a search to be sure that the business name is not currently in use.

New/Renewal Assumed Names and Co-Partnerships Filings

A Business Registration protects a business from possible name duplications by other businesses.  The County Clerk’s Office is authorized to reject any Business Registration that is likely to mislead the public, or have the same or similar name to another currently in use.  The registering of the business name places that name on public record indicating that the registrant(s) are conducting business under an assumed name.  Business Registrations are valid for five years.

It is very important to know that DBA’s and Co-Partnerships are NOT corporations, limited liability companies (“LLC”), limited partnerships (“LLP”), or non-profit organizations.  Corporations, limited liability companies (“LLC”), limited partnerships (“LLP”), and non-profit organizations are NOT filed at the county level; they MUST be filed with the State of Michigan, Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (www.michigan.gov/lara).

Two Types of Business Registrations at the County Level

  • An Assumed Name/Doing Business As/DBA consists of one or more parties. It is more binding since all parties listed must sign the document in front of a notary public.  The Assumed Name cannot be changed or dissolved without the notarized signatures of all parties listed.
  • A Co-Partnership consists of two or more parties and may be changed or dissolved by the notarized signature of any party.

Business Registration Requirements

  • Assumed Name/Doing Business As/DBA:
    • In Person (M-F, 8am-4:30pm): All parties intending to be on the document must be present at the time of filing, must present valid government-issued photo identification, and pay $10 (cash, checks, and debit/credit cards accepted; $2.50 fee applies for debit/credit card processing).
    • By Mail: Download the application entitled “Certificate of Persons Conducting Business Under Assumed Name”.  Fill out the top portion, have everyone’s signature notarized, enclose a $10 check or money order payable to Saginaw County Clerk, and mail to:  Saginaw County Clerk, 111 S. Michigan Ave., Saginaw, MI . The Saginaw County Clerk’s Office will complete the bottom portion and mail you a certified copy.   
  • Co-Partnership:
    • In Person (M-F, 8am-4:30pm): All parties intending to be on the document must be present at the time of filing, must present valid government-issued photo identification, and pay $10 (cash, checks, and debit/credit cards accepted; $2.50 fee applies for debit/credit card processing).  (See the next step for an additional option if just one co-partner is coming in person to file).
    • By Mail: Download the application entitled “Certificate of Co-Partnership”  and fill out the top portion.  All parties must sign the document and designate one of the co-partners to have their signature notarized; this designated co-partner also has the responsibility of verifying all the other co-partners’ signatures.  Therefore, only one person’s signature is notarized on the Co-Partnership.  This process can also be done ahead of time, so the co-partner who is getting their signature notarized can file in person if they choose (if filing in person with notarization needed, co-partner must present valid government-issued photo identification).  If sending by mail, enclose a $10 check or money order payable to Saginaw County Clerk, and mail to:  Saginaw County Clerk, 111 S. Michigan Ave., Saginaw, MI.  The Saginaw County Clerk’s Office will complete the bottom portion and mail you a certified copy.
  • Change of Address and Notice of Dissolution of Business
    • The same instruction applies for taking out an Assumed Name, i.e. appropriate form completed, all parties’ signatures notarized, and $10 fee. These can be done in person or by mail.

Business Registration Fees and Downloadable Forms

The Saginaw County Clerk’s Office cannot give legal advice.  You may consult your legal advisor for more information on registering a business.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do I need to file a DBA?
The law requires that a sole proprietor or co-partners file their business (other than the real name of the person) at the County Clerk’s Office.  The purpose of the law is to place on public record the name of the person who is conducting business under an assumed name.

Can I use any name I want?
The Co-partnership Act and Fictitious Name Act require that the name of a sole proprietorship or co-partnership cannot be the same or similar to a name already on file with the county so as to cause confusion or deception.

What if I do business in the next county?
When you file an assumed name as a sole proprietorship or co-partnership, you have to file in each county in which you will be doing business.

I filed in this county.  What if the next county has a business with the same name?
If you find that someone else is using the same name, then you need to do some research to find out how long they have been using that name.  If they have been in business for a long time, you might want to change your assumed name so there is no confusion to the public.  Filing your business name does not create substantive rights to the use of that name.

Can I use a different name in a second county that I am doing business in?
If the business is a separate business with a different name, you would file with the actual name under which you are doing business.  However, if you are doing business with the same name as in the first county, you should file with the same name in the second county.

I need a DBA for my bank, but my business is incorporated.  What should I do?
If you are incorporated, the only place you should file an assumed name is with the State of Michigan – the same as your Articles of Incorporation.  The instructions and application for filing electronically can be found on the State of Michigan’s website, www.michigan.gov/lara

The bank should not advise corporations to file at the county.  For more information, call the State of Michigan Corporation and Securities Bureau at (517) 241-6470 for verification of this information.

If I am incorporated, can I file the business name with the county and with the state?
No, if you are incorporated (example:  Lakeshore Painting, Inc.), the only place you should file an assumed name is with the State – the same as your Articles of Incorporation.  Filings at the county level are for sole proprietorships and co-partnerships only.

Can I file a DBA today, and when my attorney has my corporation papers filed, can I dissolve the DBA?
You can file your DBA if you are still a sole proprietor or co-partnership.  In the meantime, you can file a Reservation of Corporate Name with the State of Michigan to hold your corporate name.  If you are incorporated, the only place you should file is with the State.  Once you become incorporated, you may dissolve the DBA with the county.

If I file a DBA in all 83 counties of Michigan, will that protect my business name?
No.  Filing your business name does not create substantive rights to the use of that name.  This is the same whether it is a corporate name, limited liability company name, limited partnership name, sole proprietorship name, or co-partnership name.

Can I file a DBA if I am less than 18 years old?  If not, can I be a partner in a DBA?
No, you cannot file a DBA or be a partner in a DBA if you are a minor.  A person who is at least 18 years of age is an adult of legal age for purposes of signing contracts.