What is a DBA (Doing Business As)?
A DBA, which stands for “Doing Business As”, is an official registration of a company name either at the state level or county/local level. The DBA name can be owned/registered on behalf of an individual person or a legally registered company. DBA names are also known as Assumed Names, Trade Names, or Fictitious Names.
Can I file a DBA if my company is not registered as a separate business entity?
Yes, you can file a DBA without having your company incorporated. If you are a sole proprietor and do not want to conduct business under your personal name you will need to register a DBA. Note that the filing of a DBA on behalf of a person does not create a separate legal entity thus does not have limited liability protection that is afforded to Corporations, LLC’s and other types of registered business entities.
When should a Corporation, LLC or other business entity file a DBA?
You should file a DBA for your company if you plan to transact business under a name other than the legal name in which your company was organized.
Why should I file a DBA?
If you are a sole proprietor: - To conduct business under a name other than your personal name - To open a business bank account - To legitimize your business If you are a Corporation, LLC or other business entity: - To conduct business under a name other than your legally registered company name - To conduct business under a name in addition to your legally registered company name - To accept checks/payments under another name - To market an additional product or service under another name In both cases the DBA name becomes part of the public record and, if searched, will show that your name is in use at the state, local and/or county level.
Are DBA filings mandatory?
In most jurisdictions, DBA’s are required to be filed if you are a sole proprietor that will be conducting business under a name other the owners personal name or if you are a Corporation, LLC or other business entity and will be conducting business under a name other than the legal name in which your company was organized. A DBA filing is also commonly required if you are a Corporation, LLC or other business entities and will be filing a authority to conduct business in another state where your name is not available. The state were you are registering will often require the company to operate in that state under a different name, requiring a DBA filing.
Where should I file my DBA?
The answer varies depending on the state in which you are conducting business and whether you are registering a DBA on behalf of a sole proprietor or Corporation, LLC and other business entity. Sole proprietors will file their DBA at the local town or county level whereas Corporations, LLCs and other business entities will file at the state level within the state of formation. However, please note that some states do not file DBA’s for business entities at the state level and they have to file at the local town or county level like sole proprietors. Contact us if you would like more information on filing a DBA in your state.
What paperwork is required to file a DBA?
When filing for a DBA a Certificate of Assumed Name, Certificate of Trade or Business Registration Certificate must be prepared and submitted to the respective state, county or local agency for filing. The information required in the filing document varies per state. When forming your company we will request the mandatory information from you in order to complete the filing. View our State Specific Information page for details on what information is required for your filing.
What words are prohibited in a DBA or fictitious business name?
When creating a DBA name for your business most states will not allow you to use corporate indicators such as Corporation, Corp., Inc. or LLC within the name. Further, for Corporations, LLCs and other business entities, most states require that the name refrain from using any words restricted for use within that state without first obtaining the required consent.
How many DBA names can I register?
You are allowed to register as many DBA names as you would like. There is no state limit to how many you can have.
Can someone else use my DBA name?
Filing a DBA does not normally reserve you the rights to that name. Some states will not allow a company to register a DBA if another company already has the same name registered. If someone wishes to name their company the name that you chose for your DBA, they usually can. If you would like to protect your DBA from anyone else using it, you should consider registering a state or federal trademark for your business. This still does not stop anyone from registering the same DBA name but can give you the ability to take legal action against anyone that does.
Do DBA filings expire?
DBA’s can stand in effect for multiple years without expiring. Each state/local agency sets their own time limit on how long a DBA can last before expiring. If a DBA has to be renewed the state or local government office where you filed your DBA will usually send a notice to the address on record. However, please note that some state/local agencies do not send any such notice and leave it up to the DBA owner to renew the filing when it is due.