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DBA: Doing Business As

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GETTING A DBA FOR YOUR BUSINESS

What is a DBA name?

A DBA (“doing business as”) name is your operating name—not your legal business name. DBA names are also called assumed names or trade names. You can think of a DBA as a business pseudonym.

Essentially, you’re using a DBA when you operate your business under a name that is different from the legal name of your business entity. Naturally, there are rules in place to ensure businesses aren’t just making up names left and right and engaging in fraud. Getting a DBA usually involves filing state and/or county paperwork.

Is a DBA a separate legal entity?

No, it’s just another name your business uses.

What can you do with a DBA?

Legally operate! For example, you can use your DBA name to advertise, open a bank account, write checks, and receive payments. Doing these things without following the DBA regulations in your area can incur penalties or constitute fraud.

Why would I need a DBA?

You may need or want a DBA if any of the following situations apply to your business:

  • You want a new business line—but not a whole new business: Names are essential tools for branding. Using a DBA gives you the flexibility to launch additional brands or target specific audiences—without starting a separate business. For example, imagine you own a bakery called Sweet Pastries, but you want to target the lucrative designer wedding cake market. You could choose a more matrimonially-themed DBA to better advertise to that market.
  • You’re a sole proprietor: In a sole proprietorship (or a general partnership), there’s no legal distinction between you and your business—if your name is Kim Jenkins, you’ll be operating your business as Kim Jenkins, an individual. “Kim Jenkins” will be the name listed on any contracts, checks, bank accounts and more, unless you get a DBA.In this case, a DBA can help clarify what your business actually does (for instance, “Lovely Landscaping” tells you more than “Kim Jenkins”). A DBA can make you appear more professional as well. For example, clients and customers can make a check out to your business name instead of to you directly. Having a bank account in your business’s name also helps you keep your business finances separate from your own.

How is a DBA taxed?

Sometimes people worry that having a DBA will mean filing another set of taxes. Nope—DBAs are just alternate names for your single business entity. You’ll only file taxes for your single business entity or sole proprietorship/partnership. Your tax filing won’t change just because you have a DBA.

If you have a federal tax ID (also called an EIN or FEIN), the ID will be assigned to the legal name of your business entity. You don’t need a separate tax ID for a DBA.

Can you have more than one DBA?

Yes. There’s no general limit on how many DBAs you can have (although there may be state or local restrictions). However, practically speaking, it doesn’t make sense to have tons of DBAs. Registering multiple DBAs can complicate bookkeeping and rack up filing costs.

Does registering a DBA keep other people from using that name?

Typically no. While there are exceptions in Alaska and North Dakota, registering a DBA usually just gives you the legal right to operate your business under another name. It doesn’t prevent other businesses from using that same name. If you want to better protect your name, you’ll need to trademark it.

If I have an LLC or corporation, will my DBA have the same benefits and protections?

Yes. Again, a DBA isn’t a separate entity, so a DBA will be under the “corporate umbrella” of your business. Note, however, that the benefits and protections of your DBA are shared. Some people mistakenly think a DBA has its own, separate benefits and protections. This is not the case.

For example, imagine you have a legal entity called Cutie Cosmetics LLC. You also have two DBAs for specialized product lines: Cutie Skincare and Cutie Hair Beauty. If Cutie Hair Beauty’s new shampoo makes people’s hair fall out and you get sued, ALL your assets—from Cutie Hair Beauty, Cutie Skincare and Cutie Cosmetics LLC—could be at risk. For separate asset protection, you would have to create a separate LLC.

Is a DBA the same as a fictitious name?

No. When an existing business wants to register in a new state—but finds that its name is already in use there—the business is usually permitted to adopt an alternative name for use in the state. This name is typically called a fictitious name. In most states, the process for getting a fictitious name is different from the process of getting a DBA. Read more about registering a foreign business on our Foreign Qualification page.

How do you get a DBA?

State, county and city requirements vary widely, but you’re generally required to file state or local forms, pay a fee, and sometimes publish a notice of your business’s DBA in a local newspaper.

What are the state requirements for a DBA?

The specific requirements for each state are outlined in the chart below. Note that the chart focuses on state-level requirements. Your business may be subject to additional city or county requirements as well.

State Do I have to
Register a DBA
if Operating
Under
Another
Name?
Fee State
Application
Form
Where
Do I
Register?
Is Renewal
Required?
Is Publishing
in a
Local

Paper
Required?
Misc.
AL

No, it’s optional

$30

Application to Register/Renew Trademark, Service Mark or Trade Name in Alabama

Alabama Secretary of State, Trademarks Division

Every 5 years

No

Name must be in use in Alabama prior to registration; must include 3 examples of name in use.

Must be notarized

AK

Yes

$25

Business Name Registration

or

Foreign Business Name Registration

Alaska Division of Corporations, Business and Professional Licensing

Every 5 years; every year for foreign businesses

No

Alaska requires a separate business license for each different name a business will be operating and advertising under

Includes exclusive name rights in Alaska

AZ

No, it’s optional

$10

Trade Name Application

Arizona Secretary of State

Every 5 years

No

Online filing only

AR

Yes

$15-$25

Application for Fictitious Name

Arkansas Secretary of State, Business Services Division

Domestic corporations are also required to file in their county of registration (except in Pulaski
County)

No

No

Sole proprietors and general partnerships file w/county, not the state

CA

Yes*

varies

varies

*While required by state law, filings are submitted in the city or county of registration.

varies

Yes (once a week for 4 weeks)

CO

Yes

$20

Statement of Trade Name

Colorado Secretary of State

Every year

No

Online filing only

CT

Yes*

$10

varies

*While required by state law, filings are submitted in the town of registration.

No

No

DE

No, it’s optional*

$25

varies

*DBAs are not mandatory for incorporated businesses but can be submitted in the county of registration.

No

No

Must be notarized

Unincorporated businesses (like sole proprietorships) that do not want to include surnames may be required by their county to obtain a DBA

DC

Yes

$55

Trade Name Registration Form

Washington DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs

Every 2 years

No

FL

Yes

$50

Application for Registration of Fictitious Name

Florida Department of State, Division of Corporations

Every 5 years

Yes

(at least once)

GA

Yes*

varies

varies

*While required by state law, filings are submitted in the county of registration.

No

Yes

(once a week for 2 weeks)

HI

No, it’s optional

$51

Application for Registration of Trade Name

Hawaii Business Registration Division

Every 5 years

No

Includes State Archives Fee of $1

ID

Yes

$25

Certificate of Assumed Business Name

Idaho Secretary of State

No

No

IL

Yes

$30/year renewed in set 5-year periods

Application to Adopt, Change, Cancel or Renew an Assumed Name

LLC: Form LLC-1.20

Corp: Form BCA-4.15/4.20

LP: Form 108.5

Illinois Secretary of State, Business Services Department

Every five years (years that end in “5” or “0”)

Yes, for those who submit county filings, such as sole proprietors

(once a week for 3 weeks)

Sole proprietors and general partnerships file w/county, not the state

Submit in duplicate

IN

Yes

$30 ($21 online)

Certificate of Assumed Business Name

Indiana Secretary of State, Business Services Division

No

No

Sole proprietors and general partnerships file w/county, not the state

IA

Yes

$5

Fictitious Name Resolution

Iowa Secretary of State, Business Services Division

No

No

Sole proprietors and general partnerships file w/county, not the state

KS

No, the state has no formal DBA process

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

KY

Yes

$20

Certificate of Assumed Name

Kentucky Secretary of State, Division of Business Filings

Counties may also require a copy of the Certificate of Assumed Name application to be filed with the county clerk

Every 5 years

No

Sole proprietors file w/county, not the state

LA

Yes

varies

varies

*While required by state law, filings are submitted in the parish of registration.

varies

varies

Sole proprietors are exempt from the state’s DBA requirements

ME

Yes

$125

Statement of Intention to Do Business Under an Assumed or Fictitious Name

LLC: MLLC-5

Corp: MBCA-5

LP: MLPA-5

LLP: MLLP-5

Maine Secretary of State, Division of Corporations, UCC and Commissions

No

No

Sole proprietors and general partnerships do not file with the state; municipal filing may be required

MD

Yes

$25

Trade Name Application

Maryland Department of Assessments & Taxation

Every 5 years

No

MA

Yes*

varies

varies

*While required by state law, filings are submitted in the city or town of registration.

Every 4 years

No

MI

Yes

$10 ($25 for LLCs)

Certificate of Assumed Name

Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs

Every 5 years

No

Sole proprietors and partnerships file w/county, not the state

MN

Yes

$30 ($50 online)

Certificate of Assumed Name

Minnesota Secretary of State

Every year

Yes (in two consecutive issues

MS

No, it’s optional

$25

Fictitious Business Name Registration

Mississippi Secretary of State

Every 5 years

No

Online filing only

MO

Yes

$7

Registration of Fictitious Name

Missouri Secretary of State, Corporations Division

Every 5 years

No

MT

Yes

$20

Registration of Assumed Business Name

Montana Secretary of State, Business Services

Every 5 years

No

Online filing only

NE

No, it’s optional

$100

Application for Trade Name

Nebraska Secretary of State, Business Services Division

Every 10 years

Yes, and proof of publication must be sent to SoS within 45 days

NV

Yes*

varies

varies

*While required by state law, filings are done in the county of registration.

varies

No

NH

Yes

$50

Application for Registration of Trade Name

New Hampshire Secretary of State, Corporation Division

Every 5 years

No

NJ

Yes

$50

Registration of Alternate Name

New Jersey Department of the Treasury, Division of Revenue and Enterprise Services

Every 5 years

No

Submit in duplicate

Sole proprietors and general partnerships file w/county, not the state

NM

No, the state has no formal DBA process

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

NY

Yes

$25*

Certificate of Assumed Name

New York Department of State, Division of Corporations, State Records & UCC

No

No

Sole proprietors LLPs, and general partnerships file w/county, not the state

*Corporations pay $25 plus $25/county outside NYC and $100/county in NYC. County fees do not apply to LLCs or LPs.

NC

Yes*

varies

varies

*While required by state law, filings are submitted in the county of registration.

varies

No

ND

Yes

$25

Trade Name Registration or Franchise Name Disclosure

North Dakota Secretary of State

Every 5 years

No

Includes exclusive name rights in ND

OH

Yes

$39

Name Registration

Ohio Secretary of State, Business Services

Every 5 years

No

OK

Yes

$25

Trade Name Report

Oklahoma Secretary of State

No

No

OR

Yes

$50

Assumed Business Name – New Registration

Oregon Secretary of State, Corporation Division

Every 2 years

No

PA

Yes

$70

Registration of Fictitious Name

Pennsylvania Department of State, Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations

No

Yes

RI

Yes

$50

LLC: Fictitious Business Name Statement

Corp: Fictitious Business Name Statement

LP: Fictitious Business Name Statement

Rhode Island Department of State, Business Services Division

Filing in the city/town of registration may also be required

No

No

Sole proprietors and general partnerships file w/city or town, not the state

SC

Yes

$10

Assumed Name Certificate

South Carolina Secretary of State

Every 5 years

No

Only required for Limited Partnerships

Submit in duplicate

SD

Yes

$10

Register a New DBA

South Dakota Secretary of State

Every 5 years

No

Online filing only

TN

Yes

$20

Application for Registration of Assumed Name

LLC: SS-4230

Corp: SS-4402

LLP: SS-4492

LP: online form

Tennessee Department of State, Corporate Filings

Filing in the county of registration may also be required

Every 5 years

No

General partnerships file a Statement of Partnership Authority with the Department of State

Sole proprietors file w/county, not the state

TX

Yes

$25

Assumed Name Certificate

Texas Secretary of State

A county assumed name certificate is also required to be filed in the county of registration

Every 10 years

No

Submit in duplicate

Sole proprietors and general partnerships file w/county, not the state

UT

Yes

$22

DBA Application

Utah Department of Commerce, Division of Corporations and Commercial Code

Every 3 years

No

VT

Yes

$50

Trade Name Registration

Vermont Secretary of State, Corporations Division

Every 5 years

No

Submit application in duplicate, include SASE

VA

Yes

$10

varies

*While required by the state, filings are done in the county of registration.

No

No

LPs, LLCs and corporations must file a copy of their registration with the state corporation commission

WA

Yes

$24

Business License Application

Washington Business Licensing Service

No

No

WV

Yes

$25

Trade Name (DBA) Registration

West Virginia Secretary of State, Business & Licensing Division

No

No

Sole proprietors and general partnerships file w/county, not the state

WI

No, it’s optional

$15

Registration of Tradename/Trademark

Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions

Every 10 years

No

Must be notarized

Sole proprietors and general partnerships file a Registration of Firm Names with the county

WY

No, it’s optional

$100

Application for Registration of Trade Name

Wyoming Secretary of State

Every 10 years

No

Must be notarized

Name must be in use in Wyoming prior to registration

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