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Demystifying the DBA (Doing Business As) Registration

Published on Feb 13, 2012


Read 'Demystifying the DBA (Doing Business As) Registration' at 'Time to Start Up,' the small business blog by BizFilings.
DBA There are many reasons why a Doing Business As (DBA) filing may be a good choice for a company. In this article, we’ll define what a DBA is, what it’s not, and cover the major reasons you might want to consider filing for one.

What is a DBA?

A Doing Business As filing is an official, public way to register one’s company name with a state or a local jurisdiction (such as a county). It allows a sole proprietor or a company (LLC, S corp, C corp ...) to do business under a different name. DBAs are also referred to as an assumed name, fictitious business name or trade name. There are no limits to the number of DBAs a business can register.

What a DBA is Not

DBAs are not the same as forming a business. If you file for one without first forming an LLC, S corp, or some other type of company formation, you will be perceived as a sole proprietor by the state you’re doing business in. In this case, it’s legal for you to conduct business, but you won’t have any limited liability protection. Forming a business like an LLC or S corp typically grants the owner of a company limited liability protection, which is one of the major benefits of forming a company. If you’ve formed an LLC in a particular state, you can then file for a DBA name and retain your limited liability protection. That being said, if you plan on growing your business into additional states, you’ll need to Foreign Qualify in each respective state before filing your DBA. If you don’t, each state you have not Foreign Qualified in will perceive you as a sole proprietor.

Why File for a DBA?

To follow are seven of the top reasons why business owners file a DBA. Please note that these reasons may vary depending on a business type. To transact business under a different name To transact business under a name other than the official name of the company or sole proprietorship. A DBA allows a sole proprietor, corporation or LLC to name the business something other than the legal name, which in the case of a sole proprietor is the name of the individual. New name for new business activity Often a Doing Business As name is used when a company wishes to enter a new line of business or to market a new product or service. As a corporation or LLC, you may eventually expand to a new area not represented by your current business name, and having a more relevant name could be beneficial. Domain name as DBA A DBA can be filed in order for a company to transact business under the company’s domain name. This is especially helpful when your company name is not available as a domain name. Open a business bank account Banks typically require sole proprietorships and general partnerships to have a DBA before opening a business bank account. Additional business credibility Having a DBA can lend additional credibility for sole proprietorships and general partnerships. Public notification Filing a Doing Business As notifies other businesses that the name is in use, as the DBA name becomes part of the public record. A prospective client requires a DBA to award you a job Some clients may require you to have a DBA in order to contract with you. If you’re a freelance graphic designer, for example, and you bid to do work for a local corporation, you may be required to have a DBA — but it’s more common that you’d be required to incorporate your business. Please note that the reasons listed above may vary in relevance to your company depending on your business type. We strongly advise speaking with your accountant or attorney to determine whether or not filing for a DBA is the right choice for your business. Filings a DBA can be tricky. Depending on the state, there are times when paperwork and fees are filed on the local or county level, while other times a particular state may require a filing with a state agency — instead of or in addition to —  the county. Some states/counties may require you to publish with a local newspaper, providing public notice of the Doing Business As filing.

We’re Here to Help

Whether you need assistance with a filing a DBA name, or have questions about forming a business, feel free to give our customer service team a call between 8am and 7pm CST, at 800-981-7183. You can also visit our Contact Us page to speak with us via Live Chat during the same days and times. Or, send us an e-mail anytime. We’re always happy to help. Business Blogs blog