What is a DBA?

Learn all you need to know about filing for a Doing Business As (DBA). Includes info on when to use it, state requirements, and frequently asked questions.

Updated on November 27th, 2019

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DBA stands for "doing business as" and is referred to as a business's assumed, trade, or fictitious name. A business is required to file a DBA when they conduct business under a name that is different from their legal name, or their business's legal, registered name.

You have the choice of selecting a business name or DBA name for your business if you're starting a sole proprietorship or partnership. Depending on the county, city, or state your business is based in, you may be required to register your fictitious name for the protection of customers conducting business with your company.

Which Businesses Require a DBA?

Sole Proprietorships and Partnerships will be required to file a DBA if the business operates under a name that’s not the business owner's full, legal name, or their partner’s name. Sole proprietorships and partnerships are unincorporated, therefore they are not required to file entity formation papers, as well as a business entity name with the state.

However, corporations and limited liability companies (LLC) still have the option of registering a DBA name, which allows them to do business under a name other than the name on their incorporation papers.

Generally, corporations or LLCs will register a DBA name when the business wants a different name for a specific product or service. This way the corporation or LLC won't need to form a new business just to operate under a different name.

For example, Jane's Beauty Inc. wants to operate under a different name for their new hair care product line, “Jane's Hair Care Shop.” By filing a DBA name, Jane can save money and time, which would have been spent on launching and registering a new business.

How to File a DBA:

The filing process for registering a DBA name varies according to your business's structure, county, city, and state.

1. Complete and file general paperwork.

You will need to provide personal and basic information, such as the business's legal name, addresses and contact details of owners or partners, and the intended DBA name. This paperwork has to be filed at your local county clerk. Depending on your state, you will be required to pay a registration fee of $10 to $100.

2. Place a notice in a local newspaper.

Some states or counties will expect you to place a fictitious name ad or "public notice" in a local newspaper for an allocated amount of time. Once your public notice has been released, you may be required to provide proof of publication. Generally, the newspaper will provide you with proof.

3. Register your DBA name ahead of time.

We recommend registering your DBA name 30 to 60 days before you officially start conducting business under your “doing business as” name. DBA name approval can take between one and four weeks, depending on your state and jurisdiction. Once you’ve been approved, you can open your business bank account, start conducting business, and bring in new customers.

DBA State Requirements:

State

Filing Requirements

Arizona

The DBA application must be notarized, the filing fee must be paid, and a self-addressed stamped envelope must be enclosed unless you choose to file online. In Arizona, this process must be renewed every five years.

California

You must use the current legal name of the company or your own name if you’re operating as a sole proprietorship when filing a DBA name. Include the business's main place of business and, for California LLCs, the address used in the articles of formation. In addition, you will need to provide the names and home addresses of all business owners or partners.

Colorado

You will be required to provide personal information when filing for a DBA name, including name and address, the intended DBA name, a brief description of the business you operate, and all contact details.

Connecticut

To file a DBA name in Connecticut, you must provide the personal information of the owners, including their names and home addresses. In addition, the forms will also need the selection of a DBA designation and an official signature from an authorized person.

Delaware

In Delaware, DBA registrations are filed with the Office of the Prothonotary of each county in which the business operates in. Therefore, the filing process of each county may differ. Typically, you will need to provide basic information, such as your name, main place of business, and the name of the DBA you want to use.

Florida

You will be required to advertise a public notice of your intent to file a DBA in a local newspaper. Generally, this public notice must run for five days. For effortless filing, Florida has an online registration point that allows business owners to file a DBA online. Your fictitious name will only be registered for 5 years.

Georgia

In Georgia, you will need to follow a county-by-county DBA system. Some counties may require you to place a public notice of your intended DBA name in a local newspaper. You’ll need to receive a certificate from the newspaper proving you’ve properly completed the notice period.

Idaho

To file a DBA in Idaho, the business owners must complete a Certificate of Assumed Business Name, form and file it with the Idaho Secretary of State. There is a $25 filing fee.

Illinois

Depending on the county your business is based in, you may be required to release a notarization and publication. In this case, a notary public will have to sign your form. In addition, you may need to officially place a notice in a newspaper in the county where the business is located. This notice has to be placed within 15 days after you file the DBA name.

Maryland

Include the name of the business, the primary place of business, and the DBA name that will be used. Sole proprietorships and partnerships will need to provide all the names and addresses of owners and partners.

Massachusetts

Must provide the filer's name, the business's legal name, the names and addresses of all business owners or partners, the business's main address, and the intended DBA name.

Michigan

Include your name, the business's main place of work, the DBA name you want to use, and your Identification Number provided by the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Corporations, Securities & Commercial Licensing Bureau.

Minnesota

First, you will need to complete the Certificate of Assumed Name, which will require relevant information, such as the filer's name, the business's primary address, and the intended assumed name. Once you've obtained the Certificate, you will be required to publish it in a certified Legal Newspaper for at least two consecutive issues. These legal newspapers must be published in the county where the business operates. Furthermore, businesses must renew their DBA name annually.

Missouri

To file a DBA in Missouri, you will need to provide the address of the business's headquarters, names and addresses of the business owners, and the business's legal name. The DBA registration has to be renewed every five years.

Nevada

Each county in Nevada has individual requirements. General requirements include providing the intended DBA name, the name of the business or the name of the filer, the business's headquarters address, and a statement about the type of business it is. You may have to stay up to date with the latest renewal requirements and fees.

New York

In addition to providing general information, you will need to file a Certificate of Assumed Name. This certificate filing must be signed on behalf of the business by a corporate officer, a general partner of a limited partnership, a member or manager of an LLC, or by an authorized person chosen by the business. However, choosing an authorized person will only work if that person can provide the name and title of the principal for whom he or she is acting on behalf of. The authorized person will also need to provide his or her name and address to receive the receipt that evidences the filing.

Ohio

Must include the name of the filer, the legal name of the business, the business's headquarters, the intended DBA name, and a description of the type of business it is.

Oregon

Forms must include the intended DBA name, the filer's name, the business's main address, and any other required information.

Pennsylvania

Must provide the DBA name, a statement about the type of business, the address of the main place of business, and any other required information.

South Carolina

Must include personal information, including the business's current legal name, its main address, the business owner's names, the intended DBA name, and a description of what type of business it is.

Texas

You will need to provide the intended DBA name, the business's jurisdiction, the legal name of the business, the business's address, how long the DBA name will be used (up to 10 years), a brief statement about what type of business it is, the number of counties the business operates in, and the applicable signature.

Utah

You will need to provide basic information, including your business's legal name, the DBA name you want to use, the business's primary place of work, and more. Check with the Utah Secretary of State for more filing information.

Virginia

Foreign or domestic corporations, LLCs, and LLPs must obtain a fictitious name by filing in a Virginia Circuit Court, and then you'll need to file that certificate with the Clerk's Office of the Commission. In addition, you'll be required to file the name with every county clerk’s office in the counties where the business operates. For sole proprietorships and partnerships, you don't need to register with the Clerk's Office of the Commission, instead you must register on the county level with the county clerk's office.

Washington

Your DBA application must include a brief statement of the type of business you operate, the DBA name you intend to use, the state of incorporation or formation, and the names and contact information of all owners of the business. Washington offers online applications.

Wisconsin

Include the legal name of the business, the intended DBA name, the main place of business, and the type of business.

For more state requirements, click here.

FAQs:

What does it mean to have a DBA?

A business is "doing business as" when they conduct business under a fictitious name that does not include the business owner's name or the business's registered, legal name. States have different requirements for the registration of DBAs.

What is DBA in business?

Doing business as (DBA) is a business term used when a sole proprietorship or partnership conducts business under a fictitious name that is different from the legally registered name of the business, or the business owner's names. For example, when John Doe runs an auto shop named "Buddy Shop."

What are the benefits of a DBA?

  • Ensures your business is legally compliant.
  • Easier business banking.
  • Creates growth opportunity.
  • Easier to register a business name.

Can a DBA have a tax ID number?

Yes. Whether you conduct business under your formal business name or as a DBA, the regulations for obtaining a Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN) are the same. Applying is free and it can be done on the IRS website.

Do I need a separate bank account for a DBA?

Yes. You will be required to open a separate bank account for your business if it operates under a DBA name.

Your DBA is not your business legal, registered name. A DBA is seen as a business's assumed, trade, or fictitious name.

Do I need a DBA if I use my own name?

You will not be able to file a DBA if you include your name, your partner's names, or your legal, registered business name.

Is a DBA a business license?

No. A business license or specific type of permit is a requirement of all businesses, while a DBA is only required for Sole Proprietorships and Partnerships when they conduct business under a fictitious name.

How do I get a DBA?

The filing procedures for a DBA varies according to county, city, state, and business structure. However, most states will require general information, including business legal name, the proposed DBA name, and the name and addresses of all owners and partners.

What is the difference between DBA and LLC?

The main difference between a DBA and limited liablitity company (LLC) is the legal structure. Unlike an LLC, a DBA is not considered a legal business structure. Instead, a DBA is filed when a sole proprietorship or general partnership conducts business under a fictitious name.

Can two businesses have the same DBA name?

No. Before you file your DBA, you will need to verify that the intended trade name has not been registered with your Secretary of State. If the name is already registered, you will not be able to file the DBA name.

No. A DBA is not a legal business structure.

Is a DBA a sole proprietorship?

No, a DBA is not a business structure. A business is 'doing business as' when a sole proprietorship operates under a trade name.

Can you turn a DBA into an LLC?

No, a DBA is not considered a legal structure. However, you can turn your sole proprietorship or partnership into an LLC.