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Q: Legal Alias? ( Answered,   2 Comments )
Subject: Legal Alias?
Category: Business and Money
Asked by: harvardgrad-ga
List Price: $20.00
Posted: 01 Jun 2002 08:22 PDT
Expires: 08 Jun 2002 08:22 PDT
Question ID: 20069
In Massachusetts, is it possible to use a legal alisas for
business-related duties? Is this across all U.S. states or specific to
Massachusetts? How do I go about obtaining/using an alias in
Massachusetts without breaking the law?
Subject: Re: Legal Alias?
Answered By: larre-ga on 01 Jun 2002 09:49 PDT

Yes, it's possible to legally obtain and use an alias for
business-related purposes in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Business aliases are generally called DBAs or Fictitious Business
Names, though they may be referred to by other names as well. DBA
stands for Doing Business As. In Massachusetts, they are referred to
as Business Certificates. Though the law requiring a DBA filing may be
a state law, such laws are generally administered at the city or
county level. In Massachusetts, specific regulations about business
licensing requirements and obtaining a Business Certificate are part
of municipal codes.

Where you file for your Business Certificate depends upon the business
address you will be using. If you will be doing business in additional
states, cities or counties, it's wise to check their individual
regulations to see if additional filings are necessary. Throughout the
U.S., and in Massachusetts particularly, DBAs and business licensing
is most often a function of a the City or County Clerk's office.

The relevant Massachusetts statute explains: "Massachusetts state law,
Chapter 110, section 5, requires business owners to file a business
certificate every four years with their respective city or town

As examples, I've researched the process of Business Certificate
filings in the cities of Boston and Cambridge.

Boston, Massachusetts:

The online brochure, Doing Business in Boston, states:

"Register your business, using a Business Certificate Form (also
called a DBA or Doing Business As). You may obtain this certificate in
person at the City Clerk's Office, Room 601, City Hall (6th Floor of
City Hall, 617-625-4600) weekdays from 9 AM until 5 PM. The City
Clerk's Office will mail you one on request if you send a
self-addressed stamped envelope to the office. You also may purchase a
copy of the Business Certificate at your local stationery store.

Mail requests for Business Certificates to the: 

Office of the City Clerk
Boston City Hall, Room 601
Boston, MA 02201

The filing fee for the Business Certificate is $50. Make your check or
money order payable to the City of Boston. It is important to note
that the signatures of all owners must be notarized.

The following businesses must file with the City Clerk's office: 

Unincorporated businesses 
Any corporation not registered in Massachusetts. An additional $25
filing fee must be included with this application.
A domestic or foreign corporation using a different trade name for
conducting business."

The City of Boston also offers online, printable versions of their
forms. Instructions are located at:

Cambridge, Massachusetts

Title 5 of the Municipal Code governs business licensing in the city
of Cambridge. Business licensing is handled through the City Clerk's
office. The Clerk's Office provides an online instruction checklist
and info document: Online information provided by the Cambridge City
Clerk's office provides answers to some Frequently Asked Questions
about Business Certificates:

--  Who has to file a business certificate?
Any person, partnership, or corporation conducting business in
Cambridge under a name other than their own or corporate name.

-- How much does a business certificate cost?
  The cost in Cambridge is $15.00
  $5 for a certified copy

-- What is needed to file one?
A completed business certification form and one type of picture

-- How can I obtain the business certification form?
You can either pick one up at the City Clerk's Office or print a copy
of the attached FORM.

Online printable form:


To help you locate information about Business Certificate filing in
your locality, you may search the alphabetical listings of of official
and government websites for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,
provided by

Cities, Towns, Localities:


If you'd like additional clarification of this information, or would
like me to search for specifics of Business Certification in your
locality, please feel free to ask.


Request for Answer Clarification by harvardgrad-ga on 01 Jun 2002 14:44 PDT
Thanks for the answer, but my business is already incorporated (e.g, a
corporation), so I don't want to start a new business (which is what a
DBA is for, I believe). If my agency is already registered as a
corporation, with a business certificate, how would I obtain/use an

Clarification of Answer by larre-ga on 01 Jun 2002 16:18 PDT
In Boston, at least, according the the information online, registering
a Fictitious Business Name for use by a corporation follows the same
procedure as it does for individuals. By filing a Business Certificate
you are able to register a Fictitious Business Name for either an
individual, a partnership, or a corporation. Different cities may have
different requirements.

You'll need to contact the Clerk's office of the locality in which you
are doing business to find specific starting-up-a-business-in-our-city
licensing procedures and regulations. If I can assist you by providing
addresses, phone numbers, or links to online resources for your
locality, please feel free to ask.



Clarification of Answer by larre-ga on 01 Jun 2002 17:06 PDT
To clarify futher - Whether you are doing business as an individual,
or a corporation, the exact licensing requirements and regulations for
businesses operating within a geographic area are handled by the local
juridiction. Whether the business is run from a home office, or
business commercial space, the city or county places certain
requirements upon it. A corporation performing business activities is
generally subject to certain local regulations from its inception.

Clarification of Answer by larre-ga on 01 Jun 2002 22:42 PDT
For further study, see also this state government document which
details the operation of both corporations and other types of business
entities in Massachusetts.

"Many businesses, regardless of how they are owned or organized, must
file for a business certificate, also known as a dba (doing business
as) certificate, with the clerk of the city or town in which the
business is located. Consult your city or town government for more

Clarification of Answer by larre-ga on 02 Jun 2002 00:21 PDT
I have located online statutes covering the use of names and aliases,
whether corporate or non-corporate, within the Commonwealth of
Massachusetts. Chapter 110, Section 5 is the general law.


Chapter 110: Section 5. Certificates of persons conducting businesses;
contents; filing; fees; index.

Section 5. Any person conducting business in the commonwealth under
any title other than the real name of the person conducting the
business, whether individually or as a partnership, shall file in the
office of the clerk of every city or town where an office of any such
person or partnership may be situated a certificate stating the full
name and residence of each person conducting such business, the place,
including street and number, where, and the title under which, it is
conducted, and pay the fee as provided by clause (20) of section
thirty-four of chapter two hundred and sixty-two. Such certificate
shall be executed under oath by each person whose name appears therein
as conducting such business and shall be signed by each such person in
the presence of the city or town clerk or a person designated by him
or in the presence of a person authorized to take oaths. The city or
town clerk may request the person filing such certificate to produce
evidence of his identity and, if such person does not, upon such
request, produce evidence thereof satisfactory to such clerk, the
clerk shall enter a notation of that fact on the face of the
certificate. A person who has filed such a certificate shall, upon his
discontinuing, retiring or withdrawing from such business or
partnership, or in the case of a change of residence of such person or
of the location where the business is conducted, file in the office of
said clerk a statement under oath that he has discontinued, retired or
withdrawn from such business or partnership or of such change of his
residence or change of the location of such business, and pay the fee
required by clause (21) of said section thirty-four. In the case of
death of such a person, such statement may be filed by the executor or
administrator of his estate. The clerk shall keep a suitable index of
all certificates so filed with him which are currently in force and
effect, setting forth the pertinent facts, including a reference to
any statement of discontinuance, retirement or withdrawal from, or
change of location of, such business, or change of residence of such
person. A certificate issued in accordance with this section shall be
in force and effect for four years from the date of issue and shall be
renewed each four years thereafter so long as such business shall be
conducted and shall lapse and be void unless so renewed. Copies of
such certificates shall be available at the address at which such
business is conducted and shall be furnished on request during regular
business hours, to any person who has purchased goods or services from
such business. Violations of this section shall be punished by a fine
of not more than three hundred dollars for each month during which
such violation continues.

Chapter 110 Section 6 outlines the exceptions and application of
Section 5:

Chapter 110: Section 6. Certificates; application of sec. 5.

Section 6. The preceding section shall not apply to any corporation
doing business under its true corporate name, nor to any partnership
doing business under any title which includes the true surname of any
partner; nor to any association which has complied with sections five
and six of chapter one hundred and fifty-nine; nor to any partnership,
joint stock company or association the business of which is conducted
by trustees under a written instrument or declaration of trust,
provided that the names of such trustees with a reference to such
instrument or declaration of trust shall be filed as provided in
section five, nor to any limited partnership organized or qualified
under chapter one hundred and nine doing business under its true
partnership name if such name contains without abbreviation the words
""limited partnership''.


Based upon the information you've given, and my interpretation of
these online documents, I would conclude that in order to use a legal
alias for your corporation in Massachusetts, you would need to file a
new Business Certificate with the applicable local Clerk's office.
Bear in mind however, this is not the same as advice from a legal
professional licensed in Massachusetts. It's a "best deduction" by an
expert researcher, based on documents which have every appearance of
being correct, legitimate and applicable.

Subject: Re: Legal Alias?
From: firefly-ga on 01 Jun 2002 14:37 PDT
Excellent answer Laare!
Subject: Re: Legal Alias?
From: weisstho-ga on 01 Jun 2002 19:49 PDT
Yes, indeed, Laare's advice is very good. 

As to assumed names (otherwise known as an alias), Michigan, for
example, permits any corporation, LLC, or limited partnership to file
an assumed name with the Michigan Secretary of State; e.g. Jones, Inc.
can file an assumed name as "Jim's Carwash". State filing of the
entity = state filing of the assumed name.  No state filing of the
entity (i.e. general partnerships and sole proprietorships) = local
filing of the assumed name - typically here with the county clerk.

An out-of-state entity can file as a "foreign corporation" in another
state - and file an assumed name at the state level in the new state.

Registering a name as a trademark would give an assumed name a greater
level of protection. Trademarks, as issued by the United States Patent
and Trademark Office protects words, names, symbols, sounds, or colors
that distinguish goods and services. Trademarks, unlike patents, can
be renewed forever as long as they are being used in business.

See also

An attorney specializing in "intellectual property law" might be a
great investment so that any unique name or mark is well and
adequately protected.

Good luck,


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