New York DBA
How to Get an Assumed Name in New York
A New York DBA is any name your business operates under that isn't its legal business name. New York calls DBAs “assumed names,” and all types of business can register one. New York sole proprietorships, general partnerships, LLCs, and corporations can use an assumed name to add new brands or services to their business. DBAs can also be used to open a business bank account, set up credit card processing, and for all manner of advertising. Sole proprietors and general partnerships must register DBAs in the county or counties where they do business. LLCs and corporations file with New York's Department of State. Here's what you need to know.
Your New York DBA Guide:
What is a New York DBA?
A New York DBA (“doing business as”) allows you to do business under a name that is different from your legal business name. New York state law (NY Gen Bus L § 130) requires that any business in the state that operates under a name that isn’t its legal business name register that name with the Department of State’s office.
Whether you’re a sole proprietor mowing lawns or a local taco truck LLC, all types of businesses can conduct business using a DBA. A DBA can be used on:
- Websites and social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram, etc…)
- Advertising (billboards, print media, radio, television, etc…)
- Business cards, company letterhead and merchandise
- A business bank account
- Vendor checks and point-of-sale systems
Remember, a DBA is just a name for your business and not a business itself. Registering a DBA does not change the structure of your business. It just gives the business a nickname. If you were a sole proprietor before you registered your DBA, you’re still a sole proprietor after. This means you’ll still file taxes under your legal business name and existing EIN (or SSN for most sole proprietors).
Can I sign a business contract with my DBA?
A DBA is just a name, not a legal entity. To sign a contract, you’ll need to use the legal name of your business. You’ll also want to be transparent that your business uses a DBA. For example, a sole proprietor using a DBA would sign a contract “Joe Smith, DBA Smith Family Art Gallery.” A formal entity like an LLC would have an authorized member or manager sign with their name, followed by the LLC name, and the DBA.
Why Register a New York DBA?
There are lots of reasons to use a DBA in New York. Here are a few:
You’re a New York Sole Proprietor
Sole proprietors have the benefit of not having to formally register with the state, but the drawback is there’s no legal distinction between you and your business. The result is the legal name of your business is your full name (ex: Erika Jones). If you want to use a more professional or descriptive name for your business, you’ll need to get a DBA.
You Want a Different Name for Your Business
DBAs aren’t just for sole proprietors. Any type of New York business can register a DBA to get an alternate business name. For LLCs and corporations, a DBA can let them use a different business name without having to amend their legal business name. Amending a legal business name in New York costs $60 for both LLCs and corporations, whereas a DBA is only $25. (However, corporations will have to pay $100 per DBA name in each New York City county where they operate.)
You Use Your Domain Name as Your Business Name
In most cases a business domain name is just an address for customers to find your business online. However, if your domain name is different from your legal business name, and you use your domain name as your public business name (on T-shirts, trucker hats, social media marketing, customer communication, etc.), you’ll need to get a DBA.
You Want to Add a New Brand
A DBA allows businesses to create a new brand or offer a new service without having to form a whole new business. For example, “Big AppleShipping, LLC” might want to add personal shopping to their offerings. By registering a DBA as “Craft Personal Shopping,” they can keep the name and brand of their original business, while promoting their personal shopping serviceas a stand-alone brand.
Note: Registering a New York assumed name won’t prevent another business from using it outside of the state. You can apply to trademark your DBA at the federal level for stronger legal rights to your name.
Will a DBA keep my personal information off the public record?
No. Registering a New York DBA requires you to list the name and address of the person or business entity applying. All of that information will go on the state’s public records, easily searched by anyone with a smart phone. Your best option if you’re worried about privacy is to hire a New York registered agent and to form an LLC. At Northwest, we work hard to minimize the exposure of your personal information. If we can put our address on a public document instead of yours, we give you the option to do so. We do this to help you live privately.
How to Register a DBA in New York
How you register your DBA in New York depends on the type of entity that is filing. Sole proprietors and general partnerships register DBAs in the county where they do business. LLCs and corporations file with the state. Either way, you’ll need to make sure your DBA name is available in the state and that it follows state naming laws. Let’s go over the steps required to register your New York DBA.
Comply with New York’s Naming Rules
Your first step is to complete a search of New York’s Corporation and Business Entity Database to make sure the DBA name you want to use is not already taken. It’s also a good idea to perform a federal trademark search of your DBA name to make sure it isn’t registered on a national level.
You’ll also need to make sure your DBA conforms to New York’s laws. Your DBA name can’t:
- Be the same as or overly similar to other business names in New York.
- Contain words that refer to specific entity types, such as “incorporated,” “limited liability company,” or “LLC,” unless your business is that entity type.
- Use words restricted by New York law, unless you have prior approval. The New York Department of Financial Services website provides a list of words that require approval from the state.
Registration for LLCs and Corporations
LLCs and corporations register their DBAs with New York’s Department of State by filling out a Certificate of Assumed Name application. Here’s the information you’ll need in order to successfully complete the form:
- Legal business name
- Fictitious business name if your business was formed outside of New York State
- Entity type
- Assumed name you want to register
- Principal address
- NY county/counties in which you’ll do business
- Address of each business location in New York
- Signature of authorized person
- Filer’s name and address (this is the address where proof of filing will be mailed)
Your Certificate of Assumed Name must be delivered by mail or in person to:
New York Department of State
Division of Corporations
One Commerce Plaza
99 Washington Avenue
Albany, NY 12231
LLCs, limited partnerships, and corporations pay $25 to file the certificate with the state. In addition, corporations will have to pay $100 for each of the five counties within New York City where they operate, and $25 for each county outside of the city. Expedited filing options are also available:
- 24 hours: add $25
- Same day: add $75
- 2 hours: add $150
The state accepts payments by cash, check, money order, or credit card. If you are filing by mail and want to pay by credit or debit card, you’ll need to print and fill out a credit card/debit card authorization form.
Registration for Sole Proprietors and General Partnerships
Sole proprietors and general partnerships file their Assumed Name Certificate (some counties call it a Business Certificate) in each county where the business operates. County clerk information can be found on the New York State Association of Counties website. Filing fees vary by county. For example, it costs $25 in Genesee, $30 in Franklin, and $35 in Erie. Some counties, like Albany ($25), charge an extra $5 for a required certified copy of your DBA filing.
The basic information you’ll need in order to successfully register your DBA is:
- Name(s) of business owner
- Address of owner
- Business address
- Assumed business name being registered
- Date and signature of person completing application (must be signed in the presence of a notary public or county commissioner of deeds)
Note: County DBA certificates won’t be accepted unless a notary public has signed off on them. Notary fees can vary, but most cost around $10. If you’re looking to save money, you can also hand-deliver your certificate and have the county commissioner of deeds sign off on your certificate for no fee.
Once processed, each county where you registered your assumed name will mail you a copy of your DBA registration. You’ll want to keep this with your business records as proof that your DBA has been registered.
Registering a DBA vs. Starting a Business in New York
Registering a DBA is not the same thing as starting a business. A DBA is a tool businesses can use to market themselves under a different name. Starting a business may involve getting a DBA, but it isn’t required. You’ll need a business before you can get a DBA.
There are two ways to start a business in New York:
- Sell a product or service: The easiest way to start a business is to sell something. Any product or service that you sell means you’re in business. If you operate your business alone, you’re a sole proprietor. If you are in business with one or more people, then you would be a general partnership. Neither business type requires filing formal paperwork with New York. In either scenario, you are the business—meaning if someone sues your business, your personal assets (such as your house and savings) could be at risk to satisfy any debts. To protect your personal assets, you’ll want to form an LLC or corporation for your business.
- Register your business with the state: If you want to create a formal business entity like an LLC or corporation, you’ll need to file registration documents with New York’s Department of State’s Division of Corporations and pay the filing fee of $125 for a New York corporation, or $200 for a New York LLC. You’ll also need to file the New York’s Biennial Report every two years (just $9).
DBA vs. LLC in New York
A DBA is just an alternate name for your business, it doesn’t provide any legal protection. LLCs, meanwhile, are legal entities that offer personal asset protection to their owners (members). Registering an LLC with the state creates distinct legal separation between the owners (members) of the business and the business itself. This means that your personal assets—things like your home, vehicles, and bank accounts—are protected from any action that is brought against the business.
If you want another name for your business, or a name for your new product line, then a DBA makes sense. However, if you’re a sole proprietor or in a general partnership, and you want to protect your personal assets, you should consider forming an LLC. Northwest can help.
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New York DBA FAQs
Is registering a DBA required in New York?
Yes. New York requires any business that uses a name different from its legal name to register that name with the state or county where the business operates.
How much does it cost to get a DBA in New York?
That depends. LLCs and corporations pay $25 to file with the state. However, corporations have to pony up $100 for each New York City county where they’ll use the DBA (New York County, Kings County, Bronx County, Richmond County, and Queens County) and $25 for each county outside of the city. Sole proprietors and general partnerships that register at the county-level will pay at least $25.
How long does it take to get a New York DBA?
State processing takes about 3 business days, plus added time for mailed filings. County filings are generally processed in 7 business days, but that can vary by county.
Do I need to renew my New York DBA?
No. Once you file your assumed name, it’s yours to keep. However, if you stop using your assumed name, you must file a Certificate of Discontinuance of Assumed Name with the NY Department of State, which costs $25.
Can I amend my DBA in New York?
Yes. If the information on your DBA registration has changed, LLCs, limited partnerships, and corporations will file an Amendment Certificate of Assumed Name with the Department of State. Corporations will have to pay $100 for each of the fivecounties within New York City where they operate, and $25 for each county outside of the city.
County-level amendments can be made by filing an Amended Certificate of Assumed Name (or similar filing) in the county (or counties) where your sole proprietorship or general partnership operates. Filing fees vary by county, but expect to pay at least $25 to amend your DBA.
Is a fictitious name the same thing as a New York assumed name?
No. In New York, a fictitious name refers to a foreign entity that wants to use another name because its original name conflicts with an existing New York entity. Foreign entities can still register their assumed name with the state by completing and submitting an Assumed Name Certificate, along with the required fee.
Do I need to open separate bank account for my DBA?
No, but you can. A DBA is not a separate legal entity (like an LLC or a corporation), so there’s no need to keep your DBA and personal finances separate. However, from an accounting perspective, some business owners find that a keeping a separate bank account for business done under their DBA can help to keep finances organized.
Do I need a separate EIN for my DBA?
No. A DBA is just a name for doing business, not a new entity. 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.
How many DBAs can I have in New York?
New York has no limit to the number of DBAs a business can have, although each DBA will require its own filing fee.
What is my legal business name?
Your legal business name is the one that appears on the business’s government documents (state filings, tax filings, etc.).
- For formal business entities like LLCs, corporations, and nonprofits, a business’s legal name is the name listed on its formation documents, including the company’s corporate identifier (“Company Name, LLC,” “Company Name, Inc.,” etc.).
- For sole proprietors, a business’s legal name is the owner’s legal name.
- For general partnerships, a business’s legal name is the partners’ last names.