Change in North Carolina Law Creates Central Database for Assumed Business Names

On December 1, 2017 a new law in North Carolina took effect that creates a new state-wide searchable database to be administered by the North Carolina Secretary of State’s office.

An assumed business name is the trade name, or fictitious business name, under which a business is conducted and presented to the world. It is not the legal name of the person or entity who actually owns the business and is responsible for it. It is sometimes also referred to as an ABN or Doing Business As (DBA) name. An ABN may be assigned to an individual or an entity (like a corporation or limited liability company). In the event that it is assigned to an individual, the person is still acting as a sole-proprietor (meaning that they do not have any protection from liability if they are sued for something related to their business). 

Before any person engages in business in North Carolina under an Assumed Business Name, that person must file an “Assumed Business Name Certificate” in the office of the Register of Deeds in the county in which the person is or will be engaged in the business.

Prior to the new change, a person would need to file the certificate in each county in which business was to be conducted and pay an additional fee with each filing. With the new database system, a person can file in the Wake County Register of Deeds office with a certificate that covers as many counties as that person desires, including the entire state, and only pay one filing fee. This includes amendments and withdrawals of certificates.

The Register of Deeds then communicates the Assumed Business Name certificate to the Secretary of State’s office who then places the certificate in the central database. Through the Secretary of State internet site one can perform a state-wide assumed name search here: One can also perform a search in the county Register of Deeds office as well, if they so choose.

The former system continues to run with the new system until December 1, 2022 (the date when all former system filings will expire). Amendments to an assumed name filing under the former system can no longer be made. Filings made under the former system are not automatically converted to the new system and those names will not be in the Secretary of State’s database. In order to switch to the new system, a person need only make a new filing under the new system using the new form.

The current filing fee in Wake County is $26.


Contact our office today that your Assumed Business Name filing is up to date under this new Secretary of State database.