How to Get a Louisiana Trade Name
To do business under any name other than your legal business name, you need to use a Louisiana DBA. Also called a trade name in Louisiana, a DBA can be used to craft your brand identity, market your business, or open a business bank account. Any business can use a DBA, including Louisiana sole proprietorships, general partnerships, LLCs, and corporations. Registering a Louisiana trade name requires filing an Application to Register Trade Name, Trademark, or Service Mark with the Louisiana Secretary of State and paying a fee. Get all the details below.
Your Louisiana DBA Guide:
What is a Louisiana DBA (Trade Name)
A DBA is any name your business operates under that isn’t its legal business name—DBA stands for “doing business as.” While DBA are referred to as trade names in Louisiana, in other states, they’re also called assumed or fictitious names.
A DBA can be used by any business to establish and maintain its professional image, primarily through marketing and banking activities. Like many states, Louisiana registers trade names at the state level. DBA registration isn’t required in Louisiana, but it is recommended.
What’s unique about DBA registration in Louisiana?
In Louisiana, you can use a DBA without registering that name with the state. However, registering your trade name informs other businesses that you are using the name, which can discourage those businesses from trying to use the same name.
You can register a trade name before or after you start using it.
Why Register a DBA in Louisiana?
Even though registration isn’t required, there are good reasons to file a DBA in Louisiana:
You’re a sole proprietor
If you’re a sole proprietor, your legal business name is your own name (there’s no legal separation between a sole proprietor and their business). Getting DBA can allow you to use a more descriptive or professional name, like “Crawdad Daddy’s” instead of Henry Broussard. In addition, registering your DBA will inform other businesses that the name is taken and help protect your brand.
Market your business
DBAs are useful marketing tools, especially when expanding or rebranding your business. Whether you’re starting an additional business line or entirely changing the course of your business, registering a trade name instead of forming a whole new business can save you money. For example, in Louisiana, it costs $100 to form an LLC but $75 to register a trade name.
Registering your trade name lets you formally claim your trade name so you can establish and promote your business’s brand and public image. Ways to use your trade name for marketing include:
- On websites and social media accounts
- On signs, business cards, and other marketing materials
- In commercials and advertisements
- On merchandise
If you do business under your domain name, you can also register that name as a DBA.
Open a business bank account
Another reason to register your DBA is that some banks (especially larger ones) require businesses to provide proof of DBA registration in order to open a business bank account under that name. Others will only require evidence that you are using the name. You’ll need to contact your bank for details. Opening a business bank account under your DBA helps your business maintain a professional appearance because you can make and receive payments using that name.
Tip: Registering a Louisiana trade 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 Louisiana Trade Name
To register a trade name in Louisiana, you’ll need to make sure that your desired name is available and file an Application to Register Trade Name, Trademark, or Service Mark with the Louisiana Secretary of State.
While the same form used to register trade names is also used to register trademarks, be aware that you can only use the application to apply for one of these at a time. Submitting the application does not automatically trademark your name.
Let’s go over the details of how to get a trade name.
You’ll start by making sure that your trade name is available. You can’t apply to use any name that is already registered to another Louisiana business as a legal business name or as a trade name. Additionally, you can’t use any name that is trademarked.
To check on your name’s availability, you can use the following databases:
- Louisiana Business Entity Search (registered business names, trade names, and trademarks)
- US Patent and Trademark Office Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) (federal trademarks)
Since DBA registration isn’t required, not all businesses using DBAs will show up in the state database. You may want to expand your search using an online search engine, local yellow pages, or business associations.
Note: If you know what name you want to use and it’s available, but you’re not ready to register quite yet, you can file an Application for Reservation of Trade Name, Trademark, or Service Mark with the secretary of state for $25.
Louisiana has a number of rules regarding what can’t be included in a trade name, and violating any of these rules will result in your application being denied.
State statute LA RS §51:212 contains a complete list, but here are some of the general guidelines. Your trade name cannot:
- Falsely suggest that your business does charitable work or is affiliated with a government agency.
- Purposely misrepresent the type of work your business conducts, your business entity type, or where it is located.
- Contain immoral or scandalous language.
- Disparage a person, a national symbol, or an institution.
Next, you’ll fill out an Application to Register Trade Name, Trademark, or Service Mark, which asks for the following information:
- Your legal business name
- If you own a corporation: the state where your corporation was formed
- You business’s street address and PO Box (if any)
- Your trade name
- The type of goods or services you provide
- The date you first started using the trade name
Additionally, at the top of the form, you’ll need to check “original filing” to show that you are registering a new trade name. This form must also be notarized.
On the cover letter for this filing, you must also include the name and address of the person filing the document so that evidence of the filing can be sent back to you.
You can file your application by mail, in person, or online.
PO Box 94125
Baton Rouge, LA 70804
8585 Archives Avenue
Baton Rouge, LA 70809
The filing fee for a trade name is $75 ($80 online).
You can get expedited filing for an additional $30 (completed within 24 hours) and priority expedited processing for an additional $50 (completed in 2-4 hours).
How to Renew a Trade Name in Louisiana
In Louisiana, trade names must be renewed every 10 years.
To renew your Louisiana DBA, you’ll submit another Application to Register Trade Name, Trademark, or Service Mark. On the top of the form, you’ll check “renewal” to indicate that you’re renewing an existing trade name.
Renewal costs $75 and can be completed by mail, in person, or online.
Re-assigning or canceling a Louisiana trade name
If you want to assign your DBA to another business or cancel your DBA completely, it can be done.
To assign your trade name to another business, you can use the Assignment of Trade name, Trademark, or Service Mark form, which is $75 to file by mail, in person, or online.
DBA cancellations can be completed online through GeauxBiz and also cost $75.
Filing a DBA vs Starting a Business
When you file a DBA, you’re not starting a new business. All you’re doing is giving your existing business the ability to operate under a different name. A DBA doesn’t change your business structure, either. For example, a sole proprietor using a DBA is still a sole proprietor.
Because a DBA doesn’t create a separate business entity, you must continue to use your legal business name for government and legal activities. This includes filing taxes and signing contracts. When signing contracts, you’ll need to list both your legal and DBA names so that your business is clearly identified.
How can you start a business in Louisiana? One of two ways:
- Form your business by registering with the state. You’ll need to file formation documents (Articles of Organization or Incorporation) with the secretary of state and pay a filing fee to form a business entity like an LLC or a corporation.
- Sell something. Starting a business as a sole proprietor or general partnership is easier—all you need to do is sell a product or service. Once you do that, you’re in business. You don’t need to register with the state, though you may need to get a business license, depending on the type of work you do.
Louisiana LLC Vs DBA
Unlike a DBA, a Louisiana LLC is a legal business entity. Because of this, LLCs provide their owners with liability protection. In the event that an LLC is sued or owes debts, the owner’s personal assets (cars, savings, homes) are shielded from seizure.
DBAs don’t provide this type of protection, which means that if you’re a sole proprietor with a DBA, your personal assets could be put at risk. If you want liability protection, the best way to get that protection is to form an LLC.
Does a DBA keep my personal information off the public record?
Unfortunately, no. One purpose of DBA registration is to help consumers figure out who they’re conducting business with. Your trade name application will require you to list your business name and address. And if you work from a home office, this could include your home address.
One way to keep your personal information off the public record is to hire a Louisiana registered agent like Northwest and form an LLC. At Northwest, we can list our information in place of yours wherever possible on state documents, increasing your privacy.
Protect Your Assets with a Louisiana LLCGet Started Today!
Louisiana DBA FAQs
How much does it cost to register a DBA in Louisiana?
It costs $75 to register a DBA in Louisiana ($80 online).
Is registering a DBA required in Louisiana?
No. Registering a DBA is not required but does give your business the right to that name within the state of Louisiana.
Can I reserve or cancel a DBA name?
Yes. You cancel your DBA online through GeauxBiz for $75.
Do I need a separate bank account for my DBA?
No. Because a DBA isn’t a separate business entity, you don’t need to get a separate bank account. However, getting a dedicated bank account for business done under your DBA can help keep your finances organized.
Do I need a separate EIN for my DBA?
Nope. If your business already has an EIN from the IRS, you won’t need to get a new one just because you get a DBA. Businesses that must have an EIN include multi-member LLCs, corporations, and all businesses with employees.
How long does DBA registration last in Louisiana?
DBA registration lasts 10 years in Louisiana.
How many DBAs can I register in Louisiana?
You can register as many DBAs in Louisiana as you’d like to use—but you’ll have to file and pay the fee for each DBA separately.
Can I sign contracts with my DBA?
No. If you want a contract to hold up in court, you’ll need to sign with your business’s legal name. However, you should list your DBA alongside your legal name.
Can I buy a domain name under my DBA?
It depends. Some domain registrars permit businesses to purchase domain names under a DBA, but others do not. If not, you’ll need to use your business’s legal name when buying a domain.
What is my legal business name?
Your legal business name is the name listed on your business’s government documents—on state and tax filings, for example.
For formal business entities like LLCs, corporations, and non-profits, a business’s legal name is the name listed on its formation documents, including the company’s entity identifier (“Company Name, LLC,” “Company Name, Inc.,” etc.).
For sole proprietors, a business’s legal name is its owner’s legal name.
For general partnerships, a business’s legal name is either the partners’ last names or a name the partnership has given itself in a written partnership agreement.