How to Get a Fictitious Name in Arkansas
An Arkansas DBA, or fictitious name, is any name a business uses that isn’t its legal name. Arkansas sole proprietorships, general partnerships, LLCs, and corporations can use a DBA to add brands to a business, market on social media, and open business bank accounts. For most business entities, registering a fictitious name in Arkansas is a two-step process that involves submitting an Application for Fictitious Name to the state and registering your DBA in the country where you do business. Sole proprietors are only required to register at the county level. Here’s how to get a DBA in Arkansas.
Your Arkansas DBA Guide:
What is an Arkansas DBA (Fictitious Name)?
Arkansas calls DBAs “fictitious names,” and if you want to use one in Arkansas, you’re legally required to register the name. A DBA isn’t a legal business structure like an LLC or corporation. It’s just another name that your business can use instead of its legal business name. An Arkansas DBA won’t provide you or your business with liability or personal asset protection in the event of a lawsuit against your business, but it can be used to market your business and open a dedicated business bank account.
The point of filing for an Arkansas DBA is so that the state knows that you are operating a business under a separate name from your legal business name. For sole proprietors who have to use their own first and last name as their business name, a DBA can keep their name out of the public eye and make their business sound more professional. An LLC or corporation might use a DBA so that they can expand their business offerings without having to create a separate entity.
Why Register an Arkansas DBA?
Any business can operate in Arkansas without using a fictitious name (DBA). Plenty of successful business owners operate using their legal business name. But if you want to legally operate in Arkansas under a name different from your legal business name, you’ll need to get a DBA.
Here are a few reasons why you might want an Arkansas DBA:
Using a creative business name as a sole proprietor. Sole proprietors—legally speaking—are their business, which means their legal business name is their full name. The legal name of a general partnership, unless otherwise stated in a written partnership agreement, is the last names of the owners. If don’t want your lawn mowing business to be called “Sally Smith Lawns” or your jewelry business to be stuck with “Johnson and George Jewelry,” you might want to register a DBA in Arkansas.
Expanding your business. Getting a DBA often makes sense if you take your business in a new direction or expand a product line. Imagine Sarah Smith operates a taco truck as a sole proprietor. Business is going great, and she wants to branch out into catering weddings and other events. Sarah registers a DBA name for her catering business. With her new DBA, Sarah can market her catering business online and in the local paper, build a website, and even open a separate business bank account for her catering sales. Essentially Sarah can now operate two business with two distinct names, all for the low cost of registering an Arkansas DBA.
Getting a business bank account. Registering a DBA with the state can make it easier for sole proprietors or general partnerships to open a business bank account. While a business bank account isn’t necessary for either business type, it’s generally a good idea to keep your business and personal finances separate.
Tip: Registering your DBA in Arkansas doesn’t guarantee that another business won’t use it in another state. For stronger legal rights to your name, you can apply to trademark your DBA name at the federal level. Here’s how to apply for a trademark.
How to Get a DBA in Arkansas
Obtaining a fictitious name in Arkansas is pretty straightforward. If you’re a sole proprietor you’ll file your fictitious name with your county clerk’s office, not the state. If you’re in a general partnership, LLC, corporation, or other formal entity, you’ll file with the state, pay a fee, and boom, your DBA is ready for the bright lights of the business world. Of course, there’s a bit more to it than that. We go over the steps here:
Before you file for a fictitious name, you’ll need to make sure the name you want to use isn’t already the name of a registered business in Arkansas. To find out if your DBA is available, check Arkansas’s Secretary of State’s business name search.
The DBA you choose must also meet Arkansas’s naming guidelines. This means that your DBA name can’t:
- Contain words that could make people think it’s a government agency.
- Imply that your business was organized for an unlawful purpose.
- Use words that suggest your business is a different entity type, such as “incorporated” if the DBA is connected to an Arkansas LLC or “limited liability company” for an Arkansas corporation.
- Use restricted words, including “bank,” “trust,” or “credit union,” without filling out additional paperwork.
Once you’ve settled on your DBA, you’ll submit an Application for Fictitious Name with the Arkansas Secretary of State. Sole proprietors don’t need to apply with the state, just the county clerk’s office where they are located. All other entities will need to fill out the application and include:
- Entity type
- Fictitious name
- Nature of your business (for example, “tutoring”)
- Legal business name
- Date your business was registered with the state
- Whether your business is domestic (formed in Arkansas) or foreign (formed outside of Arkansas)
- Registered office address. LLCs, corporations, and other formal entities use their registered agent’s address as their registered office. If you’re in a general partnership you’ll use the address where you do business.
- Name, signature, and contact address of Authorizing Officer (the person who submits the form—this can be anyone you authorize to act on behalf of your business)
You can submit the Application for Fictitious Name by mail, in person, or online. Online filings for LLCs, corporations, and nonprofit corporations cost $22.50. Mailed or in person filings are $25. General partnerships pay $15. Sole proprietors file with their respective county and pay all associated filing fees.
By mail or in person:
Arkansas Secretary of State
Business Services Division
1401 W. Capitol Ave.
Little Rock, AR 72201
Once your filing has been approved, Arizona’s Secretary of State will mail you a stamped copy of your application. You’ll then file this copy with the county clerk’s office where your registered office is located. You will also need to pay a filing fee. Filing fees vary by county, but you can expect to pay at least $25. You can find the contact information for your county clerk on the Arkansas Association of Counties website. Businesses located in Pulaski County are exempt from this requirement.
Filing an Arkansas DBA vs. Starting a Business
A business is an entity that sells goods or services to customers. A DBA is just a nickname for a business and not an entity on its own. While you can use a DBA for many of the activities you’d also do under your legal business name, like marketing and banking, there are some things you can’t do with a DBA.
Since your DBA isn’t a separate business entity, you must file taxes and sign contracts using your legal business name. When signing a contract, you’ll need to include your legal business name and your DBA (usually listed after your legal name and labeled d/b/a), so that your business identity is clear to whoever you’re signing the contract with.
There are two ways to start a business in Arkansas:
Sell something: The easiest way to start a business is to sell something. Any product or service that you sell, whether it’s $2 tacos from a truck or cleaning houses for $50 an hour, means you’re in business.If you own the business by yourself, you’re a sole proprietor. If you’ve got a business partner or partners, you’re in a general partnership.
Register with the state: If want a more formal business type like an LLC or corporation, you’ll need to file formation documents with Arkansas’s Secretary of State and pay registration fees.
Arkansas DBA vs. Arkansas LLC
While both DBAs and LLCs are filed at the state level, LLCs are legal entities that create separation between their owners (members) and the business. An Arkansas LLC will protect your assets (like your personal savings, car, or house) from being seized to satisfy a lawsuit or bankruptcy. A DBA doesn’t do that. It’s just an alternate name for your business. If you’ve already formed an LLC and want to use an alternate name, or your business has plans to launch a new product line, then a DBA makes sense. However, if you’re a sole proprietor and want to protect your personal assets, you need more than just a DBA. You need to form a separate business entity with liability protection, like an LLC.
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Arkansas DBA FAQs
Is a DBA required in Arkansas?
Yes. State law requires that any business that operates with a name that is not its legal business name register a DBA with the Arkansas Secretary of State.
How do I get a DBA in Arkansas?
If you’re a sole proprietor, you only need to register your DBA in the county where your business is located. All other entities (LLCs, corporations, nonprofits, general partnerships, etc…) have to first register with the state and pay the state filing fee of $25 ($22.50 online). Then they’ll need to register the DBA and pay the filing fee in the county (unless they’re in Pulaski County) where their registered office is located.
How much does it cost to get a DBA in Arkansas?
The cost of a DBA varies by entity type and location, but in general, LLCs, corporations, and nonprofits pay an online fee of $22.50 ($25 by mail) to register a DBA with the state. General partnerships pay $13.50 for online filings, or $15 by mail. Each DBA will also need to be registered at the county level (except in Pulaski County). Fees vary by county, but in most cases you can expect to pay at least $25. Since sole proprietors register at the county level, they’ll only need to pay the county registration fee.
How long does it take to get fictitious name in Arkansas?
It takes about 1-2 weeks to get your fictitious name (DBA) approved by Arkansas. You’ll need to account for additional time if mailing your application.
Do I need to renew my Arkansas DBA?
No. An Arkansas DBA is perpetual.
Can I cancel my DBA in Arkansas?
You can cancel your Arkansas DBA by filing a Cancellation of Fictitious Name form with the Secretary of State and paying a $25 fee. General partnerships pay $15. Counties do not record DBA cancellations, so sole proprietors are off the hook for having to report any cancellation.
Can I change or update my DBA name in Arkansas?
The only way to change or update your DBA name in Arkansas is to cancel your current DBA name and file a new one with the Secretary of State’s office. You’ll need to pay $25 to cancel, and another $25 to file for a new DBA name. General partnerships would pay $15 to cancel, and $15 to file for a new DBA. Counties in Arkansas don’t keep track of DBA cancellations, so sole proprietors will only need to file a new DBA with their respective county.
Do I need a separate bank account for my DBA?
Your Arkansas fictitious name is not an entity separate from your business, which means that you’ll still be able to use your business bank account without opening a separate one for your DBA. However, a DBA can be used to open up a bank account. Remember, just because a DBA has its own bank account doesn’t mean that it offers any sort of liability coverage in the event of a lawsuit or bankruptcy.
Do I need a separate EIN for my DBA?
No. A DBA is just a business name and not a business itself. While multi-member LLCs need to get an EIN for tax and employment purposes, your DBA alone won’t need one.
How many DBAs can I have in Arkansas?
As long as you can afford the $25 filing fee per DBA, there is no limit to the number of DBAs you can have in Arkansas.
Can I sign contracts with my DBA?
The answer is yes and no. Because a DBA isn’t a legal business entity, you can’t sign a contract with your DBA alone. However, you should list your DBA alongside your legal business name on contracts (usually labelled “d/b/a/”) so that your business is clearly identified to whoever you’re signing a contract with.
Can I buy a domain name under my DBA ?
It depends. While some domain registrars don’t permit businesses to purchase domain names under a DBA, others do. If you don’t want to buy a domain name using your legal business name, you’ll need to find a registrar that allows purchases under a DBA.
What is my business’s legal name?
The legal name of your business is the name that you put on state and federal documents, particularly tax filings. If you’re a sole proprietor, your legal business name is your name. The legal business name for general partnerships is either the partners’ last names or a name the partnership gave itself in its written partnership agreement. For LLCs, corporations, and nonprofits, your legal business name is the name that appears on state formation documents.
How can I keep my personal information off the public record?
The best way to keep your personal information off Arkansas public record is to hire an Arkansas registered agent service to form your LLC. When a professional registered agent forms your LLC, they’ll let you use their name and address on all state documents allowable. This helps to keep your personal information under wraps and live privately.