On July 10, 2019, Virginia deservedly regained its recognition as the best state in which to do business, according to CNBC. It is the fourth time that Virginia has achieved the top spot in CNBC’s business rankings, but the first time since the commonwealth was named No. 1 in 2011.

Virginia was recognized as the best state for business for several reasons including its strong, talented workforce and education system that received top marks in both categories. It boasts of significant economic development wins that received a lot of national news attention.

Right before regaining first place, Virginia was stagnated in the rankings, forcing the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, policymakers, and other stakeholders to the drawing board in search of ways to improve the state’s business climate. This led the Virginia Chamber to create Blueprint Virginia 2025, which serves as a business plan for the commonwealth to position itself, once again, as the best state for business.

There is an alarming concern from the business community that some policies that have long been cornerstones of Virginia’s success might be at risk. One example is Virginia’s right-to-work law, which protects workers from being forced to join a union or pay non-membership fees as a condition of employment. However, Virginia still remains the number one place to do business in the United States.

If you are looking to conduct business in Virginia, with a name other than the original legal name of your business, then you have to file a DBA or an assumed name certificate. Have it in mind that it is a crime to operate with a fictitious business name without registering it with a DBA filing.

Failure to register a DBA could result in the levying of a $2,500 fine, up to one year in prison, or both. Properly filing the DBA registration also allows the company to open bank accounts, enter contracts, and start operating using the new business name.

To file a DBA in Virginia, you first have to confirm whether the name you intend to use is actually available. In order to do that, you have to search the Commonwealth of Virginia State Corporation Commission entity database.

There are a number of restrictions on what names can be used. Businesses cannot use a DBA that misrepresents the company geographically, and cannot register a DBA that is confusingly similar to another registered business name. Also, names that might be perceived as deceptive or fraudulent, such as a name that implies the entity is of a certain type that it is not, e.g. including “Inc.” when the entity is not a corporation.

Step By Step Guide to Filing a DBA in Virginia in 2022

A sole proprietor may want to use a different name so that they can market under something that sounds more “business like” than just their individual name. A corporation or limited liability company (LLC) may want to use something that is more in line with their product name rather than their company name. But regardless of the motivation, Virginia law requires registration, and below are steps to take when filing a DBA in Virginia.

  1. In order to file a DBA in Virginia, you first have to visit the Circuit Court Forms page from the Judicial System website of Virginia. From there, download the certificate of the assumed or fictitious name. You can either print the blank form or get it filled on your computer before getting it printed.
  2. Once you obtain the certificate, you have to complete it by filling in relevant details. You have to enter your name and contact information along with the legal name and contact details of your business. The assumed or fictitious name of your company should also be entered here. A notarized signature is required in this certificate. If your business is a partnership business, then all the partners will have to get the certificate signed under the presence of a notary.
  3. When you fill in all the required details in the certificate, submit the completed certificate with the necessary filing fee to the court clerk’s office of the local circuit. This circuit will complete your registration. Although the state law requires you to register, the local circuit will handle the specific registrations of every area. Visit the Individual Circuit Court Home page, on the website of the Virginia Judicial system to find specific details about your local circuit court.
  4. Note that you then have to request for a certified copy of registration from the clerk which will be filed with the State Corporation Commission. This will further complete the entire process if your business is a limited partnership, Limited Liability Corporation or a general corporation. The general partnerships and the sole proprietorship businesses will not have to be filed with the Corporation of State Commission.

Conclusion

Whether you are a sole proprietor or an LLC or corporation, if you do business under a name that is not your own (or that of your LLC or corporation), Virginia law requires you to register that doing business as (DBA) name, also referred to as a fictitious business name. There are many reasons why business owners use a name other than their own and it often depends on the form of entity.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How Do You File A DBA In Virginia?

In Virginia, you register your DBA with the State Corporation Commission. You can file online with the State Corporation Commission or you can complete the PDF form. There are two different PDF forms to choose from depending on your business structure.

  1. How Do You Register A DBA In Virginia?

Option 1: Create an Account and File Online With the Virginia State Corporation Commission’s Website.

Option 2: File the Certificate of Assumed or Fictitious Name by Mail.

Cost: $10 Filing Fee.

Mailing Address: State Corporation Commission. Clerk’s Office. P.O. Box 1197. Richmond, VA 23218-1197.

  1. How Long Does a Virginia DBA Last?

The rules regulating DBAs can vary by county, so it is best to contact the county clerk’s office for every county in which your DBA name will be used. However, for most DBAs, the standard effective lifespan is 5 years, after which time you will need to file a renewal.

  1. Do You Have To Register DBA in Virginia?

In Virginia, any business operating under a fictitious name will need to register a DBA.

  1. What Is The Difference Between A DBA And LLC?

A limited liability company (LLC) is a business entity type that provides limited liability protection. A DBA (doing business as) name is simply a registered name for a business.

  1. How Do You File A DBA For An LLC In Virginia?

Foreign or domestic corporations, LLCs, and LLPs must obtain an Assumed/Fictitious Name Filing in a Virginia Circuit Court, and then file that certificate with the Clerk’s Office of the Commission. You will also need to file the name with every county clerk’s office in the counties where the company seeks to do business.

  1. How Much Does It Cost To Register a DBA in Virginia?

The filing fee to register the Certificate of Assumed or Fictitious Name is $10 per City or County.

  1. What Are The Benefits Of An LLC In Virginia?
  • Owners in an LLC aren’t personally liable for business debts and business lawsuits.
  • LLCs have fewer compliance requirements than corporations.
  • LLC earnings aren’t subject to double taxation in the way that C-corporation earnings are.
  • LLCs can choose whether to be taxed as a pass-through entity or corporation.
  • No annual report is required for Virginia LLCs.
  • Virginia charges a low annual registration fee ($50) for LLCs.
  • Virginia charges low filing fees and name reservation fees for LLCs.
  1. How Do You Register A Trade Name In Virginia?

Registering a business name which is also a trade name in Virginia is done when you form your business entity (LLC or corporation) with the state. You must first choose your business structure, then do a business name search to ensure name availability. Afterward, you must form your entity with your business name with the state.

  1. Can A Foreign LLC Do Business In Virginia?

If you own an LLC located outside of the Commonwealth of Virginia and you want to do business in Virginia, you need to register your LLC as a foreign LLC and obtain a Certificate of Authority for Virginia. The foreign Virginia LLC registration filing fee is $100.

  1. What Are The Different Classes Of Contractor Licenses In Virginia?

There are three types of Virginia contractor’s licenses: Class A, Class B, and Class C. The licenses are generally based on the monetary limits of projects that your business will be bidding on. Virginia Class A contractors are unrestricted in the dollar amount of contracts they may complete.

  1. Does Virginia Allow Domestication Of An LLC?

Virginia allows corporations, limited liability companies, and business trusts to change their state of formation by filing articles of domestication. Domestication can occur both ways if allowed by the other jurisdiction (foreign to Virginia and Virginia to foreign).

  1. Do You Need A Business License In Virginia?

The good news is that Virginia isn’t one of those states and doesn’t have a statewide business license requirement. However, just like other states, Virginia does have a license and/or certification requirements for specific business activities.

  1. How Often Should I Renew My Virginia DBA?

The rules regulating DBAs can vary by county, so it is best to contact the county clerk’s office for every county in which your DBA name will be used. However, for most DBAs, the standard effective lifespan is 5 years, after which time you will need to file a renewal.

  1. Can You Add A DBA To An Existing LLC?

Yes, and as a matter of fact, business owners add a DBA to an LLC when they need to conduct business using a different name than their company’s legal name. This could be necessary if your business expands to a new state where your original LLC name is already taken.

  1. What’s The Difference Between DBA And LLC?

A limited liability company (LLC) is a business entity type that provides limited liability protection. A DBA (doing business as) name is simply a registered name for a business.

  1. How Do I Get A Small Business License In Virginia?

Here is how you can start a small business in Virginia;

  • Contact the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation at 804-367-8500 about licensing requirements
  • Get a Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN)
  • Register Your Business.
  1. Does Virginia Have A State Business License?

The state of Virginia does not have a general business license that all businesses must have to conduct business in the state. However, it does regulate certain occupations and professions through the use of licensing boards.

  1. How Does A DBA Work With An LLC?

A single LLC entity can operate with multiple businesses using a DBA. For a DBA to be used legally by the business owners, they are required to register the name in accordance with state laws where the business operates. A penalty is imposed on businesses when they fail to register a DBA prior to operations.

  1. Can A DBA Have A Tax ID Number?

Yes. An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is also known as a Federal Tax Identification Number and is used to identify a business entity.

  1. What Are The Pros And Cons Of A DBA?

The main benefit of filing a DBA registration is it will keep you in compliance with the law. For sole proprietors, a DBA lets them use a typical business name without creating a formal legal entity (i.e., corporation or LLC).

Overall, the cons of a DBA include:

  • As an owner, you are personally liable for all debts accumulated by your business.
  • As an owner, you do not exclusively own rights to your name.
  1. Is A Fictitious Name The Same As A DBA?

A fictitious name has the same meaning as a DBA, and both terms are interchangeable.

  1. Do You Have To File A DBA With The IRS?

The IRS is not the only government entity requiring a DBA to file tax returns. Businesses are also required to submit returns to the state. Depending upon the state, you may be required to file quarterly or annual tax returns.

  1. Can 2 People Have The Same DBA?

Although there is technically no DBA name limit, each name generally needs to be filed separately.

  1. Does A DBA Need A Business License?

No, and this is because a DBA is required only if you wish to conduct business under a name other than your own name, whereas a business license will be required by all businesses who wish to operate within a particular county.

  1. Do I Need A DBA If I Have An LLC?

If you have filed to become a corporation or LLC, you’ve already registered your business name and you don’t need a DBA. However, you will need to get a DBA if you plan on conducting business using a name that’s different than the name filed with your LLC/corporation paperwork.

  1. Does A DBA Need A Separate Bank Account?

If you register your business under different legal names, it is best to also have a different bank account for each business name. You do not need to have separate bank accounts unless you also have separate DBAs.

  1. Does A DBA File A Separate Tax Return?

A DBA is not a corporation, so merely filing a DBA that is not part of a “corporate umbrella” like an LLC will not give you any special tax benefits. If you are “only” doing business as a DBA, any money your business makes passes through to your individual tax return and is taxed accordingly.

  1. Is It Better To Have Multiple LLC Or DBA?

Actually, it depends on what you want, but it is important to state that having multiples DBAs will not protect the assets and income of each DBA from the other DBAs. If one of your DBAs gets sued, all other DBAs under the LLC name will be liable. For liability protection purposes, it is better to have multiple LLCs for each of your businesses.

  1. What Is The Proper Way To Write Your Legal Name For DBA?

The proper way to write your Legal name for DBA is to write your “doing business as” name exactly the way you register it at the Secretary of State. For example, if Tony A. Martins is a sole proprietor and he wants to open a coffee café under the name “TAM Coffee Café”, he can register the name with his State.

  1. How Do You Know If Your LLC Name Is Available?

The best way to find out if your business name is taken is to do a business entity search within your state, check Federal Trademark Records, and search the web to find businesses with the same or a similar name.

  1. How Do You Refer To A DBA In A Contract?

Insert “doing business as” or the acronym “DBA” after the company’s legal name followed by the DBA.

  1. What Is The Difference Between Legal Name And DBA?

A company name is the actual name of the business, while a trade name or DBA is a way of doing business under a particular name filed in a state or county. A DBA is an alias and is not an actual business entity. It has to be associated with a legal entity.

Ajaero Tony Martins