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The ABCs of DBA

Published on Oct 31, 2013


Read 'The ABCs of DBA' at 'Time to Start Up,' the small business blog by BizFilings.
biz cards As a business owner, there may come a time when you determine that it is in your best interest to do business under a name that is not your company’s legal name. In such a case, you may need to file a ‘Doing Business As,’ or DBA. Also known as an assumed name, trade name or fictitious business name, a DBA filing is an official and public registration of a business name with either the state or local jurisdiction. When you use a DBA you are not changing your name. You are just going by a different name. For example, ABC Inc. may do business as Joe’s Shoes. Joe’s Shoes is the DBA but the corporation is still ABC Inc. Who can file a DBA? C corporations, S corporations, limited liability companies (LLCs), nonprofit corporations, limited partnerships (LPs), limited liability partnerships (LLPs), sole proprietorships and general partnerships can file DBAs. As a sole proprietorship or general partnership, many banks will require a DBA in order to open a business bank account. Because owners of sole proprietorships and general partnerships are legally considered the same as a business, without a DBA owners must transact business using a personal name. As a corporation or LLC, business owners should file a DBA registration if their company plans to do business under a name other than the legal name that appears on its state-approved formation documents or foreign qualification documents. In most cases, the corporation or LLC is required by law to register its assumed name and is subject to penalties for failing to do so. Why file a DBA? The reasoning behind the decision to file for a DBA may vary by business type:
  • Sole proprietorships and general partnerships:
    • To transact business under a name other than under a personal name.
    • To open a business bank account.
    • Corporations, LLCs, LPs, LLPs
      • To transact business under a name that is different from your company name in your state-approved incorporation or foreign qualification documents.
      • To transact business under a different name in addition to your official company name.
Under most circumstances, an individual or business is required to file a DBA if they choose to transact business under a name different from the owner’s or owners’ personal names, for sole proprietorships and general partnerships, or the name used on the company’s incorporation documents. Before transacting business with a different business name, file a DBA.\ Other DBA details:
  • The typical time for DBA Filing Service is 4 to 6 weeks.
  • There are no state or country restrictions as to the number of DBA names you may register.
  • Some states protect assumed names, but in some cases registering a DBA will not reserve the name against future use by another party and someone else will be able to use your DBA name. Depending on the circumstances, consider registering a trademark if you want to protect your business name.
  • A DBA filing is generally required in each state where business is being transacted under the assumed name.