By Charlie Moody, Legal Counsel
North Carolina law has long required individuals, partnerships, LLCs, and corporations that engage in business under an assumed name to file a certificate with the register of deeds in the county in which that person or entity does business.
Similarly, Commission Rule 58A .0103(c) requires a broker or firm to file such a certificate in compliance with GS 66-71.4 AND notify the Commission in writing of the use of such assumed name.
What is an “Assumed Business Name”? For example, when an individual broker/sole proprietor named Alex advertises as Robinson Realty, Alex is not using an assumed name because Robinson Realty includes the broker’s surname.
If Alex Robinson instead advertises brokerage services (with business cards, ads, etc.) under the name “Luxury Homes 4U Realty,” Alex is now using an assumed business name and must comply with the statute and Commission rule.
Similarly, a licensed firm has a corporate name under which it is registered to do business with the Secretary of State but may choose to advertise under one or several assumed names. “Team One Property Management” and “Team One Realty” might be two assumed names (or “trade names”) used by ABC Corporation for branding purposes. Both assumed business names must be filed with the State and the Commission must be notified of their use to assist consumers in finding the actual entity/broker with whom they are dealing.
On December 1, 2017, the legislature repealed Chapter 66, Article 14 and enacted Article 14A, the “Assumed Business Names Act.” This change modernized the assumed business name process to make it easier to register, find, and maintain assumed name information. The new Act altered the requirements for the assumed business name certificate and created the means by which a single registration in the office of one Register of Deeds can be made effective for multiple counties.
Filers will need to identify which counties they will be doing business in or check the box for “All 100 counties.” The certificates are then recorded and indexed in identified counties and scanned certificate images are transmitted by the Register of Deeds to the NC Secretary of State for entry into a single, statewide searchable database maintained by the Secretary at http://www.sosnc.gov/abn/search. The Secretary assigns an identification number to each assumed business name that is recorded, and to which any future amendments or withdrawals must refer.
Certificates filed before December 1, 2017 are still valid, at least for now. The Act allows for a five-year transitional period during which individuals and entities with pre-existing assumed business names can re-file a certificate to preserve the effectiveness of the name designation. Filers have until December 1, 2022 to re-file a certificate for a pre-existing assumed name. Remember also that filers of assumed business names must update the filings within 60 days of the information changing.
Compliant blank certificate forms are available from registers of deeds or may be downloaded from https://edpnc.com/start-or-grow-a-business/start-a-business/business-forms/.
Go to the Secretary of State website to find additional information about when, how and why to file an Assumed Business Name: https://www.sosnc.gov/divisions/business_registration/assumed_business_names.
This article came from the October 2018-Vol49-2 edition of the bulletin.