DBA, or “doing business as” is the practice of using a fictitious or assumed business name to trade under. They are most commonly used by sole proprietors to conduct business under a different name than their own, but any business may have a DBA, including companies that are already incorporated under a different name. You can advertise, accept payments, set up a business checking account, and create a business phone listing under a DBA without having to use your personal name or create a new business entity. If you plan on doing business under another name, you’ll need the proper legal documentation. Otherwise, you could put yourself at risk of being charged with fraud.
Is it required to file a DBA?
In some states, you don’t need to file a DBA if you’re using your full name or part of your name,
and a description of your services (for example, ‘R. Masterson Photo Studio’). Situations, where you might need or want to file for DBA, include the following:
- More than one person is involved in your business (ex: Thomas and Sons).
- Your business uses just a first name, like Annie’s Diner, as opposed to your full name.
- You have a sole proprietorship and want to use a business name without creating a formal legal entity like a corporation, LLC or partnership. (While it generally wouldn’t protect your personal assets in the same way that forming an LLC might, having a DBA does allow you to open a bank account or get a phone listing under your assumed business name.)
- You’re a single entity, like a corporation or LLC, that needs to operate multiple businesses, but you don’t want to create separate entities for each business. For example, your company runs a chain of coffee, but you want to avoid the time and expense of incorporating each store. By incorporating your company under a more generic name, and creating more specific DBAs for each business, you can control the costs of your expanding business.
How to file a DBA?
Getting a DBA filing is generally an easy procedure. Typically, you will just have to verify that your desired name is available and that it doesn’t resemble a pre-existing business name (to prevent consumer confusion and trademark infringement). A DBA usually requires you to file a form, usually with the county clerk and is subject to some standard fees, which vary by locality. Each state regulates DBA filing and requirements differently, so before you begin the process, make sure to familiarize yourself with local regulations. The form is usually called the Fictitious Business Name Statement, and the fees are usually in the $15 – $30 range. Once the name is registered, it will usually remain valid for five years. Rocket Lawyer can help you today with getting your DBA set up so you don’t have to go through the hassle of state regulations.
Some states may require you to publish a statement in a local newspaper, informing the public of your new business name. Others may require you to use your legal name alongside the DBA. The actual term of the DBA name may also vary from state to state. This is why it is always a good idea to verify the requirements for properly filing a DBA name in your area by asking a lawyer today.
We make it easy to file a DBA, so you can start using your new name. If you want to get started today, give us a call to speak to a specialist at (877) 881-0947 or if you still have questions you can ask a lawyer or check out our Business Formation help center.