How to Get an Assumed Business Name in Idaho
A business in Idaho that uses a name other than its legal business name is using a DBA. Idaho calls DBAs “assumed business names,” but they’re the same thing. Idaho sole proprietorships, general partnerships, LLCs, and corporations can use an assumed business name for activities like advertising on social media and opening a business bank account to accept payments from customers. Registering a DBA in Idaho involves performing a business name search, submitting an application to the Secretary of State’s office, and paying a filing fee. Here’s how it works.
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What is a Idaho DBA (Assumed Business Name)?
An Idaho DBA (assumed business name), is an alternative name that a business can use. A DBA can be used in pretty much the same way your legal business name can be used. An assumed business name can be used on business cards, company letterhead, marketing materials, social media accounts, and even when opening a business bank account. However, unlike an LLC or corporation, a DBA isn’t a legal business entity. It’s just another name that your business can use to operate. An Idaho DBA won’t provide you or your business with personal asset protection in the event of a lawsuit or bankruptcy.
Registering a DBA in Idaho lets the state know that you are operating a business under a separate name from your legal business name. An LLC or corporation might use a DBA to shorten their legal business name, or so that they can expand their business offerings without having to create a separate entity. For sole proprietors who otherwise have to use their own first and last name as their business name, a DBA can give their business a name that is in line with the types of services or products they sell.
Why Register a DBA in Idaho?
First of all, it’s the law. Idaho Statute § 30-21-810 maintains that any person or business that operates a business under an assumed business name without registering it with the state is not entitled to maintain any legal action in the courts. This means that if you’re doing business with a DBA but haven’t registered it, your business won’t be able to file a lawsuit or take other legal action.
Here are a few other reasons why you might want to register a DBA in Idaho:
You Want a Different Name for Your Business
Any type of business can use a DBA to change the publicly facing business name they use. For LLCs and corporations, a DBA can let them use a different business name without having to amend their legal business name. For sole proprietors, a DBA will allow them to operate under a business name other than their own name. For instance, if Tina Baker sells jewelry as a sole proprietor, her legal business name is simply “Tina Baker.” Tina registers “Hot Girl Jewels” as her Idaho assumed business name (DBA), and now she can use it on her marketing materials, social media accounts, and even a website.
You Use Your Domain Name as Your Business Name
Let’s imagine that you sell yard signs online under your legal business name, “Weird Yard Signs, LLC.” If your website domain name is “weirdsigns.com” and you engage in business activity using your domain name, you’ll need to register weirdsigns.com as a DBA.
Your Business is Expanding
Getting a DBA often makes sense if you take your business in a new direction or expand a product line. Imagine that Sam Jones runs a juice bar. Business is booming and now he wants to branch out into coffee sales. He can keep his legal business name, or he can get a DBA that better reflects his emerging coffee business. With his new DBA, Sam can market his coffee business online and in the local paper, build a website, and even open a separate business bank account for his coffee sales. Sam can now operate two business with two distinct names, just by registering a DBA.
Tip: Registering an Idaho assumed business name doesn’t guarantee that another business won’t use it. 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 Register a DBA an Idaho Assumed Business Name
To register an assumed business name in Idaho, you’ll need to file a Certificate of Assumed Business Name with the Idaho Secretary of State. But first, you’ll need to make sure that the name you want is available.
Idaho Statute § 30-21-804 has a few rules for choosing an assumed business name. Your assumed business name must:
- Be unique among registered or reserved business entity names in Idaho.
- Not suggest a government connection (for example: you can’t use “police”).
- Not use words or abbreviations implying it’s a corporation or LLC, like “Incorporated” or “LC.”
Search the Idaho Secretary of State’s business database to see if your name is available.
Idaho law prohibits you from using an assumed business name until it’s registered. So don’t get ahead of yourself and start handing out business cards until you complete the next couple of steps.
In order to complete the Certificate of Assumed Business Name, the following information is required:
- Assumed business name
- Applicant name(s) and addresses
- Type of business being conducted (you must choose from nine categories)
- Business mailing address
- Name and address for copy of form (if it’s different from mailing address)
- Printed name and signature
Keep in mind that whatever information you list on the certificate will go on the public record in Idaho.
The filing fee varies depending on how you submit your application.Applying online is the cheapest option at $25. Submitting by mail or in person costs $45 thanks to a $20 “manual entry fee.” If you’re in a hurry, you can payan additional $40 for expedited service (one business day), or $100 for same-day processing.
Once the application is completed, it’s time to submit it to the Idaho Secretary of State.
Idaho Secretary of State
PO Box 83720
Boise ID 83720
Idaho Secretary of State
450 N. Fourth Street
Boise, ID 83720
Filing a DBA vs. Starting a Business in Idaho
Filing a DBA should not be mistaken for starting a business in Idaho. There are only two ways to start a business.
1. Sell a product or service. Being in business is as easy as getting paid to provide a service or sell a product. If you’re selling baked goods at the local market or you fix bicycles on the side, you’re in business. Sole proprietors (one owner) and general partnerships (two or more owners) are two of the most popular business types because they are easy to start and require no formal state paperwork (except business licenses when applicable) or filing fees.
2. Register your business with the state. To form a business entity like an Idaho LLC or corporation, you’ll need to file formation documents with the state (Articles of Incorporation or Certificate of Organization) and pay a filing fee ($100 online, $120 by mail or in person).
Idaho DBA vs. Idaho LLC
While LLCs can use DBAs to operate under a different name, the two aren’t the same thing. A DBA won’t protect you like an Idaho LLC because a DBA is just a name, not a business entity. An LLC is an actual legal entity that gives business owners liability protection in the event of a lawsuit or bankruptcy. Registering an LLC with the state creates legal separation between the business and the owners (members) of the business. If someone sues a business that is registered as an LLC, they’ll be suing the LLC and not the owner of the LLC. This separation is what keeps the personal assets of LLC owners from being used to satisfy a debt.
While sole proprietors and general partnerships enjoy ease of business start-up (no paperwork, no filing fees), they don’t have protection in case of a lawsuit because in the eyes of the law, they are their business. If you want legal protection, an LLC is the way to go. Northwest can help you get one.
Can I sign business contracts with my DBA?
Contracts are entered into between people or entities, not names. While a DBA is a name that you can operate a business with, it is not a legal entity. If you have a DBA and are signing a business contract, you’ll need to use the legal name of your business in order to do so. You’ll also want to disclose that the entity operates using a DBA. For example, a sole proprietor with a DBA would sign a contract “Sarah O’Bryon, DBA Boom Boom Records.”
Will a DBA keep my personal information off the public record?
Idaho’s DBA application requires the name and address of the applicant(s). This information will go on public record. The best way to ensure your privacy, and keep your name and address out of the public eye, is to hire an Idaho registered agent and form an Idaho LLC. When you hire Northwest to form your LLC, we can list our name and address on the public record wherever the state allows. We do this to keep your personal information (like a home address) from appearing on public documents in Idaho.
Protect Your Assets with an Idaho LLCGet Started Today!
Is DBA registration required in Idaho?
Yes. DBA registration is required if you plan to use an alternate name for your business.
How much does it cost to get a DBA in Idaho?
$25 for online filers, $45 dollars for mail or in-person filings.
How long does it take to get a Idaho DBA?
DBAs take about 7-10 business days to be processed. Mailed filings may take a bit longer due to postal times. You can pay an extra $40 to get your application processed in one day, or $100 for same-day processing.
How long does assumed business name registration last in Idaho?
Once registered, an assumed business name in Idaho is considered perpetual, which means it doesn’t expire.
How many DBAs can I have in Idaho?
Idaho allows you to have as many DBAs as you need, but you’ll need to apply and pay for each one you register.
Can I update or cancel my DBA name in Idaho?
You certainly can. In either situation you’ll need to submit a Cancellation or Amendment of Certificate of Assumed Business Name online, by mail, or in-person. Updates to your DBA registration cost $10 for online filings. Mail and in-person filings are subject to an additional $20 processing fee. There is no charge to cancel your DBA if you file online, but there is a $20 processing fee for mail or in-person cancellation filings.
What is the legal name of my business?
The legal name of a sole proprietorship is the first and last name of the business owner.The legal name of a general partnershipis the combined last names of the owners. For formal state-registered entities like LLCs and corporations, the legal business name is the name that is written on state formation documents like the certificate of organization or articles of incorporation.
Do I need a separate bank account for my DBA?
You can, but it’s not mandatory. However, there are some reasons why you might want to open a new bank account for a DBA. You might want to keep your business finances separate from your personal money for bookkeeping purposes. Or, if you have two distinct brands, you may want to keep them financially separate from each other. In that case, it might be simpler to have two business bank accounts.
Do I need a separate EIN for my DBA?
No. Remember that a DBA is merely a name for doing business, not a new entity. So you can’t get an EIN under a DBA name. But if you have a multi-member LLC, corporation, or any other business with employees, you will need to get an EIN from the IRS.