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How to File a DBA in Virginia (Requirement, Cost, Fees & Steps)

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.

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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.

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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.

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Step By Step Guide to Filing a DBA in Virginia in 2023

A <a ” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>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.
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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.