If you don't use your legal name for your business, North Carolina requires you to register the business name. Registration is done through the county and only where your business operates.
Who Must Register
Any business operating in North Carolina whose name does not include the last name of the owner must register that name as an assumed business name. For instance, if your name is George Jefferson and you named your laundromat Jefferson's Spin and Dry, you don't have to register the business name with the state. However, if you name your laundromat We're Moving On Up Cleaners, you do because your surname is not incorporated into the business name.
Where to Register
Register your assumed business name with the Register of Deeds in the county where your business operates. The North Carolina Association Register of Deeds provides a directory of county registrars on its website.
Run a name search to prevent selecting a name that is already in use by another business. First, check the county register's assumed name records. Some counties, such as Wake, make these records available online via a searchable database. Registers have assumed name registrations for their counties only. Next, search the Secretary of State's records, also available online via a searchable database.
Obtain Certificate of Assumed Name form. Several registers, such as Forsyth County's Register of Deeds, make the form available online. Some counties have a one-size-fits-all form, while others require different forms for different business structures. For example, the Durham County Register of Deeds has a different assumed name certificate for sole proprietorships and partnerships, corporations and limited liability companies. Complete the form. In addition to the business name, the form requests the owner's name and address and the business address. Sign the form in front of a notary public. Some registers provide this notary service for you. Deliver the completed certificate and filing fee to the country register, who then records the certificate.