Just like everybody needs a name to be identified with, businesses need a name by which you can identify them apart from using their products or philosophy. When it comes to a sole proprietorship or partnership business, the legal name they usually bear is the name of the business owner or owners. In the case of a corporation, limited liability company (LLC) or other statutory entity, the legal name is the one on its formation document (e.g., its articles of incorporation or articles of organization).

What is a DBA?

DBA stands for “doing business as.” A DBA is the name your business is referred to both legally and by consumers. A DBA can also be known or represented in other ways such as; fictitious business name, assumed name or trade name. A DBA is ideal for sole proprietors who prefer not to use their own names as their company name and small business owners who want to pick their own business name without becoming a corporation.

Having a DBA essentially means that the person or business entity intends to use that name to identify itself to the public. The legal name remains the person’s name (if an unregistered sole proprietorship) or the business entity (if a corporation or a limited liability company), but the name that the public knows the business as is the DBA name.

This essentially means that a company can have two names, the legal name and the business name or DBA. Choosing a business name to trade is part of the startup process of registering your business. While it isn’t necessary to register and choose a name immediately, some may choose to file a Doing-Business-As (DBA) so that they can;

  • Legally trade under a business name different from the owner’s or registered business’s
  • Declare legitimacy and trust
  • Protect a desired future trading name

To file for a DBA, you must fill out an application through a local, state or county agency. In some cases, you also have to announce your new company’s name in a local newspaper.

The process of filing a DBA tends to vary from state-to-state, even county-to-county. This is because each state and county in the United States tend have separate requirements. To file your DBA, you need to fill out specific paperwork and pay a filing fee.

Select the State You Want to Register a DBA

1. Alabama | 2. Alaska | 3. Arizona

4. Arkansas | 5. California | 6. Colorado

7. Connecticut | 8. Delaware

9. District of Columbia | 10. Florida

11. Georgia, 12. Hawaii | 13. Idaho

14. Illinois | 15. Indiana | 16. Iowa

17. Kansas | 18. Kentucky | 19. Louisiana

20. Maine | 21. Maryland | 22. Massachusetts

23. Michigan | 24. Minnesota | 25. Mississippi

26. Missouri | 27. Montana | 28. Nebraska

29. Nevada | 30. New Hampshire

31. New Jersey | 32. New Mexico | 33. New York

34. North Carolina | 35. North Dakota | 36. Ohio

37. Oklahoma | 38. Oregon | 39. Pennsylvania

40. Rhode Island | 41. South Carolina

42. South Dakota | 43. Tennessee | 44. Texas

45. Utah | 46. Vermont | 47. Virginia

48. Washington | 49. West Virginia

50. Wisconsin | 51. Wyoming

This is usually a general requirement. You can do all of this with a local or county agency, but some states require you to file with a state agency instead of or in addition to the county. Some states and counties might also require you to publish it in a local newspaper, giving the public notice that you have filed a DBA.

For example, in New York, sole proprietorships and general partnerships must file a business certificate listing their assumed names with the county clerk’s offices. Corporations, LLCs, LLPs and limited partnerships, on the other hand, must file assumed names with the New York Department of State. In contrast, the state of Kansas has no requirements for businesses to register fictitious names.

Once you’ve chosen your business’s fictitious name and registered it locally, you might want to consider filing for a trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to protect your intellectual property. Trademarks protect words, names, symbols, sounds or colors that distinguish your goods and services.

If the paperwork and filing process seems overwhelming, you can contract a business lawyer to complete all the necessary filings to secure your DBA name. Reputable business lawyers are listed by the American Bar Association, and you can use any of them.

The Small Business Administration is a great resource for those who aren’t sure if they need to register a DBA, it will give you the correct information. But if you plan on using a business name that differs from your given name or your business partner’s name, you’ll need to register one.

Other reasons you may have to register a DBA is if your bank requires it to open a business account, if a prospective client requires a DBA to award your company a job, if your company is entering a new business area not reflected in your current name, or if your company operates more than one business or website. It’s important to note, though, that a registered DBA doesn’t constitute a business in itself.

How Much Does It Cost to Register a DBA?

The fee usually varies by state, but it is typically between $5 and $50, although it can be up to $100 in some states. While the cost to register is insignificant, the penalties and fees for failing to register can be several thousand dollars. This is a function of consumer protection.

The state wants to know who to contact when a consumer complains. While this is usually handled when obtaining a business license, some states do not require business licenses. Almost every state requires DBAs to be registered. While there’s no numerical limit to how many a person can register, it can get expensive if you register multiple names.

Alabama, Arizona, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Rhode Island are the only states that don’t require everyone operating under a DBA to register, but it’s best to check with your state about the local requirements.

Important Things to Consider When Filing a DBA

To do business under a DBA, you must complete and file required DBA forms and pay a filing fee in the state(s) where you want to operate your business. Each state has its own forms and requirements, so be sure to check the forms and requirements carefully for your state. Here are important things you should consider when filing a DBA:

  1. Your legal business entity must be in good standing (you can get a certificate from your state or registration that shows this).
  2. You may need to get a money order or cashier’s check to register a DBA. Not all states accept credit cards.
  3. Your DBA cannot claim you have a corporation or LLC unless you actual business entity is a corporation or LLC.
  4. Many states require that you notify people that you’ve registered a DBA by posting a notice with a local newspaper or publication.
  5. Although you can identify your business in your registration documents under your Social Security Number, you should get an EIN (Employer Identification Number, also known as a Federal Tax ID Number) instead and use the EIN instead of your Social Security Number.
  6. You may not operate under an assumed name unless you’ve registered that name as a DBA name in the state in which you’re operating.
  7. DBA registrations don’t last forever. In many states, they are for five years and must be renewed before they expire. Check the specific state requirements carefully.
  8. Most states require that you amend your DBA filing if your legal business information changes. This includes your business address, legal name, change in officers, etc.

Documents and Requirements to File a DBA

Registering a DBA or a trade name is a very simple process and often one of the first steps taken after a business has been formed. The following information is usually required:

  1. DBA or trade name
  2. Date when company was formed
  3. Type of business conducted, i.e. what goods or services are offered by the business
  4. Name of individual or legal entity that owns the business
  5. Signature of notary public to authenticate the document

A trade name registration is usually good for five years, and can easily be renewed after that time. Check with your Secretary of State’s Office for specific requirements. Depending upon the state where the business is located, a DBA registration can have other names, such as:

  1. Assumed Name Statement
  2. Assumed Business Name Certificate
  3. Business License Application
  4. Fictitious Business Name Statement

 Preparing the Paperwork for your DBA Registration

When you are seeking to file a DBA, you may find that your state places specific restrictions on the type of name you can use. You will also need to determine if the name is already in use by another company. However, if your industry is a different one from the other company using the name you desire, it may still be possible to use it.

A DBA also requires renewal every few years, but there is no charge associated with renewal. After filing the DBA, it will undergo a review process. Once approved, you will receive documentation informing you of any final instructions you may need to follow before the procedure is complete. One you receive notification that that the procedure is complete, your DBA is ready for use.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What Is An Example Of A DBA?

For example, business owner Shannon Pete might file the Doing Business As name “Shannon HVAC.” Corporations and limited liability companies (LLCs) may register DBA names for specific lines of business. For example, Shavonne’s Cleaning Service Inc. might register the DBA “Shavonne’s Cleaning.”

  1. How Do You Use A DBA?

Registering for a DBA allows you to transact business under the fictitious name instead of your personal name. Your bank requires a DBA to open a business bank account. Banks often require sole proprietorships and the partners in general partnerships to have a DBA before they can open a business bank account.

  1. What Is The Benefit Of Having A DBA?

Filing for a DBA can help keep the process of starting your new business simple while reducing start-up costs. This means that you will not have to keep up with the formalities and requirements of maintaining an LLC or corporation, such as record-keeping requirements.

  1. Can A DBA Get An EIN?

Yes, and to get an EIN, you must submit a form to the Internal Revenue Service. Whether you do business under your formal business name or as a DBA, the rules for obtaining a Federal Employer Identification Number are the same. Applying is free and easy. And you will only need one number—even if you have more than one DBA.

  1. Should I Get A DBA?

It depends. If you are operating your business as a sole proprietor, you will need to file a DBA if your business has a different name than your own name. But, if it is using just the first name, (i.e., Tony’s Cleaning Service), then a DBA is required because it’s not the full legal name.

  1. Why is a DBA important?

In the U.S., a DBA lets the public know who the real owner of a business is. The DBA is also called a fictitious business name or assumed business name. It got its origins as a form of consumer protection, so dishonest business owners couldn’t try to avoid legal trouble by operating under a different name.

  1. What’s The Difference Between A DBA And A Trademark?

Trademarks and DBA names serve two different purposes. A DBA registration first allows you to conduct business in a name other than your own legal name. In contrast, you register a trademark to identify the goods or services you are selling and to distinguish them from the goods and services of others.

  1. Should I Use LegalZoom For DBA?

LegalZoom is a good provider of DBA services due to their brand popularity and their satisfaction guarantee. LegalZoom’s Premium package offers a 30-day free trial to their Business Advisory Plan and a 3-month trial of QuickBooks Online.

  1. What Does DBA Mean Legally?

Doing business as (DBA) refers to businesses that operate under a fictitious name.

  1. Does A DBA Get A 1099?

It depends on the type of payment. Corporations are exempt recipients but a 1099-MISC may be required under certain circumstances.

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

The biggest difference between a DBA and an LLC is liability protection. Under a DBA, there is no distinction between the business owner and the business. On the other hand, an LLC provides limited liability protection. The business owners’ personal property remains completely separate from the business.

  1. Does A DBA Protect Your Assets?

A DBA offers no protection of your personal assets from lawsuits. To receive proper protection and separate your personal assets from your business assets, you need to form a proper legal entity.

  1. What Is the Difference Between A DBA and Fictitious Name or Trade Name?

DBA, fictitious name or trade name is the name under which a business entity performs its functions and relates to the public. DBA is an abbreviation of “doing business as.” In some states, businesses need to file for DBA or fictitious names to protect their customers.

  1. Why Would A Formal Business Entity File For A DBA?

Because a DBA allows you to operate under a different name, you don’t have to use your own personal name publicly nearly as often. The DBA doesn’t change the company’s legal status, but it does change how the business is perceived. Finally, a DBA offers unique branding opportunities to formal business entities.

  1. Does A DBA Keep Others From Using Your Business Name?

Registering a DBA lets people know who owns your business. It also creates a public record of your use of your business name and can discourage competitors from choosing a similar name.

  1. Can You Turn Your DBA Into An LLC?

It’s easy to change your DBA to an LLC, and it doesn’t take much time. You can do this yourself or you can have an attorney or online legal service do the paperwork for you. Either way, if you convert your business to an LLC, you can now separate your personal assets from the company’s assets.

  1. Is A DBA The Same As A Business License?

Business Licenses and DBAs (doing business as) are two separate things altogether. Business licenses are issued from the city you are in providing services to clients. By getting a DBA, you may open bank accounts in the business name rather than your own which appears more professional.

  1. What is the difference between business 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 trade name can be registered by any type of business such as LLCs, corporations, and nonprofits.

  1. Does a DBA need a separate EIN?

Your DBAs are just your business nicknames, and therefore, you won’t have a separate EIN for a DBA. Not all businesses need an EIN.

  1. Do I need a separate bank account for each DBA?

You need a bank account for business if you operate under a doing business as (DBA) name. If you operate as a limited liability company (LLC) or a corporation, you must open a separate business account. Sole proprietorships and partnerships without DBAs are not legally required to open a business bank account.

  1. How Much Does It Cost To Publish A DBA?

You would need $80.00 to publish your already filed DBA and file a proof of publication. $195.00 includes applicable County fees to have SMDP file your DBA with the County, publish it for four weeks, and file a proof of publication.

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

Insert “doing business as” or the acronym “dba” after the company’s legal name followed by the dba. If Joy’s Electronics, LLC uses the tradename “Electrify Electronics,” then the contract would identify the business as “Joy’s Electronics, LLC.

  1. Can You Open A Business Account With A DBA?

Most banks require a certified copy of a DBA to open a business bank account, since entrepreneurs aren’t allowed to use their personal bank account under their business name.

  1. How Fast Can You Get A DBA?

In some cases, a DBA filing is required within a specific period of time once you begin to use the name (usually within 30-60 days). Please note that depending on the jurisdiction, most DBA filings take 1-4 weeks with some exceptions.

  1. Does a DBA file a separate tax return?

The DBA is reported on your personal 1040 tax return. The business income and expenses will be entered in Schedule C. All profits from the DBA are subject to self-employment tax.

  1. Is a certificate of assumed name the same as a DBA?

An assumed name is also called a DBA (doing business as) name. Regardless of your form of business—corporation, limited liability company, partnership or sole proprietorship—you need to comply with your state’s assumed name statutes if you do business using any name other than your legal name.

  1. Does A DBA Protect Your Business Name?

Registering your DBA name doesn’t provide legal protection by itself, but most states require you to register your DBA if you use one. Some business structures require you to use a DBA.

  1. Do DBAs Grant Exclusive Rights To The Chosen Name?

A DBA is essentially just the ability to operate under a fictitious name. DBAs do not provide additional protections. Depending on your county or state, a DBA will not protect your business’s name. Typically, you will need to incorporate your business in order to protect the name of your choosing.

  1. What Are The Benefits Of Filing A DBA For Your Business?

Filing a DBA allows you to legally use a business name without incorporating as an LLC or corporation. Filing a DBA also enables you to get a business bank account in the name of your business and take payments in the name of your business, even if you haven’t formed an LLC.

  1. Can your business name be different than your LLC?

If a business owner wants to operate under a different name other than the company’s legal name, they can use a trade name instead. A trade name does not need to include additional words or legal phrases (e.g., Corp, LLC, etc.). Every state and county has different rules for registering a DBA.

  1. How Do You Get A Small Business Name Incorporated?
  • Register the name with the secretary of state
  • Create an Articles of Incorporation.
  • File a request for incorporation packet with the secretary of state.
  • Publish a Notice of Incorporation with a local newspaper
  • Apply for tax identification numbers.
32. Do You Have To Put LLC On Your Logo?

No, you do not have to put LLC on your logo. This is so because none of your branding/marketing needs to include “LLC,” “Inc.” or “Ltd.” If it is included, this may look amateur. Logos are an extension of a company’s trade name, so marketing departments don’t need to include legal designation.

  1. Does An LLC Really Protect You?

To large extent yes. This is so because in all states, having an LLC will protect owners from personal liability for any wrongdoing committed by the co-owners or employees of an LLC during the course of business. But the LLC owners would not be personally liable for that debt.

  1. How Long Is The Fictitious Name Registration Valid?

It is valid for 5 years and expires on December 31st of the final year. You can renew your fictitious name online or by mail (PDF).

  1. Can You Do Business Without A DBA?

If you are operating your business as a sole proprietor, you will need to file a DBA if your business has a different name than your own name. In some cases, you don’t need a DBA if your business name is a combination of your name and a description of your product or service.

  1. How Do You Get A Texas Sellers Permit and DBA Permits?

You can apply for a Texas seller’s permit online through the Texas Online Tax Registration Application or by filling out the Texas Application for Sales and Use Tax Permit (Form AP-201) and mailing it to the comptroller’s office at the address listed on the form.

  1. How Long Does It Take For A Business Name To Be Approved?

A Business Name registration will take an average of 3 days to process and approved.

  1. How Much Does A DBA Pay In Taxes?

The profits of your DBA will pay two taxes: income tax and 15.3 percent self-employment tax. Unlike normal wages, taxes are not automatically withheld from your pay. This means taxes are paid quarterly to the government on April 15th, June 15th, September 15th, and January 15th.

  1. How do I pay taxes as a DBA?

The DBA is reported on your personal 1040 tax return. The business income and expenses will be entered in Schedule C. All profits from the DBA are subject to self-employment tax.

  1. What does it mean to reserve a business name?

Reserving the name allows you to protect it for a certain period of time — usually 120 days, although the exact time period does vary a bit depending on your state. During that period, no one else can incorporate under the name you’ve chosen.

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