Your Oregon DBA Guide
An Oregon DBA is any name a business uses that isn’t its legal name. Oregon calls DBAs “assumed business names,” but they are the same thing. Oregon sole proprietors, general partnerships, LLCs, and corporations can use a DBA to claim a business name, add brands or services, market on social media, set up a payment processing system, and even open a business bank account. Registering a DBA in Oregon is a pretty straightforward process that involves making sure the name is available filing an application with the Secretary of State (SOS), and paying a $50 registration fee. Here's how to get a DBA in Oregon.
Your Oregon DBA Guide:
What is an Oregon DBA?
An Oregon DBA (doing business as) is an alternate name that you can use in place of your legal business name. For sole proprietors who otherwise have to use their own first and last name as their business name, a DBA can make a business sound more professional. LLCs and corporations often use DBAs in order to expand their business offerings without having to create a whole new business.
DBAs are commonly used by franchise businesses. For example, if you own a McDonald’s franchise, the legal name of your business might be “Big Al’s Burgers, LLC,” but in order to use the McDonald’s name, you’ll need to get a DBA. In short, DBAs give businesses the flexibility to change their name or add additional stand-alone products, services, or even entire brands.
How to use a DBA
DBAs can be used almost anywhere you’d use your legal business name, including:
- Websites and social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram, etc…)
- Advertising (billboards, print media, radio, television, etc…)
- Business cards, company letterhead and merchandise
- To open a business bank account
- To set up a point-of-sale system
- To issue checks to vendors
Note: A DBA is just a name for your business and not a business itself. With a DBA, you’ll still file taxes under your legal business name and existing EIN (if you have one).
Can I sign a business contract using my DBA?
Not without including your legal business name. Since a DBA is just a name and not a legal entity, you’ll need to sign with the legal name of your business in order to enter into a contract. You’ll also want to include your DBA on the contract. For example, a sole proprietor with a DBA for their tutoring business would sign a contract “Joe Smith, DBA Tutors for All.” Likewise, a formal entity (LLC, corporation, nonprofit, etc…) that operates under a DBA would have an authorized company representative (member, manager, etc…) sign a contract using their name, the name of the business, and the DBA (ex: Sally Smith, manager, Smith Family Towing, LLC, DBA Get It Done Towing and Repair).
Why Register an Oregon DBA?
Oregon law (ORS § 648.135) states that if a business uses an assumed name but fails to register it with the state, the business won’t be able to maintain a lawsuit in court until the registration has been filed and approved. Oregon can also levy a $100 penalty against a business that knowingly uses an assumed name without registering.
As if abiding by the law and avoiding potential penaltieswasn’t enough of a reason to register a DBA, here are a few others:
You’re a Sole Proprietor
Sole proprietors are business owners who haven’t filed formation paperwork with the Secretary of State to formally register their business in Oregon. Legally a sole proprietor is their business, which means that their business name is their full name (ex: Claire Robbins). If you want to use a name for your business that isn’t your name, you can register a DBA. A sole proprietor like Claire Robbins can get a DBA for her business and then use that DBA, instead of her name, on all of her business marketing materials, social media, payment systems, and even a business bank account.
You Want a Different Name for Your Business
DBAs aren’t just for sole proprietors and general partnerships. Formal entities like LLCs and corporations might find that their legal business name is too long or no longer describes what the business does. A DBA allows these types of businesses to operate under a new name without having to start a whole new business or file paperwork to amend their legal business name.
You Use Your Domain Name As Your Business Name
Let’s imagine you create a website for your taco truck business under the domain name portlandtacos.com. If you only use the name for your website, you likely won’t need a DBA. But if you’re selling merchandise or issuing branding materials that promote your business as “portlandtacos.com” or even “Portland Tacos,” you’ll want to get a DBA. A DBA for your domain name makes it clear that there is a legal connection between your business and the DBA name that you’re using.
You Want to Expand or Rebrand Your Business
DBAs are useful for businesses that want to expand services or take their business in a totally new direction. For example, registering an LLC in Oregon costs $100. If you already operate your business as an LLC, a DBA allows you to add new services or brands to your business without having to get a whole new business. Why drop another $100, not to mention the Oregon annual report fee of $100, when you can just get a DBA? Your LLC won’t change in structure, and your new brand (or service) will continue to enjoy asset protection under the LLC. Essentially a DBA lets you expand your business without having to officially form a new business.
Will a DBA keep my personal information off the public record?
No. A DBA is just a name that your business can use. It won’t keep your personal information off Oregon’s record. In fact, to get a DBA in Oregon you’ll be required to list the names and addresses of the owners of the business. Your best course of action as a business owner is to hire an Oregon registered agent and to form an Oregon LLC. When you hire Northwest, we help you live privately by listing our name and address (where allowable) on the public record instead of yours. This means that if some scam artist or hacker searches online for information on your business, they’ll be met with our Oregon address, not yours.
How to Register a DBA in Oregon
To get a DBA in Oregon, you’ll need to file an Assumed Business Name – New Registration form and pay a $50 filing fee. You’ll also need to get a state ID number (if you don’t have one) and do some research to make sure that the name you want is available. We’ll take you through the steps.
Oregon’s DBA application requires you to list an Oregon Registry Number. Your registry number acts as an ID for your business, and you’ll need it for all sorts of state filings and business licenses. Sole proprietors and general partnerships are not required to get a registry number unless they plan to obtain an assumed business name. You can get your registry number through the Secretary of State’s Office. Select “Register a Business Online,” create an account, and then from there you’ll enter business information for the entity you want to register. There is no cost, and once you’ve completed the process, you will receive confirmation (and your registry number) via email in about 1-2 business days.
You want to make sure your DBA name is unique among business names in the state. To do this, use the state’s Business Name Search to see if your preferred assumed business name is available. The state will reject your assumed name application if the name (or a very similar name) has already been registered by another business. 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.
When it comes to choosing an assumed business name, you’ll need to pay attention to Oregon’s general naming guidelines. In general, your DBA must not:
- Be the same or overly similar to other business entity names in Oregon.
- Suggest the business is affiliated with the government (ex: you can’t use “Department of the Interior” for your interior design business).
- Use words or abbreviations implying the DBA is a corporation or LLC, like “Inc.” or “LLC.” when it is not registered as one.
You can access both the online and a printable application at the Secretary of State’s Assumed Business Name Registration page. You’ll need to list the following information on your application:
- Oregon registry number
- Assumed business name you want to register.
- Brief description of business activity.
- Physical address where the business is located.
- Name and address of person authorized to receive notifications.
- Name and address of the owners who will engage in business activity under the assumed business name.
- The counties in which you want to register the name.
- Signature(s) of authorized person(s)
Once the application is complete, it’s time to submit it to Oregon’sSOS. Oregon accepts DBA registration applications online, by mail, or in person. In person and online filings will take about 5-7 business days to be processed. Mailed filing will take longer.
Mail and In person:
Secretary of State
255 Capitol St. NE
Salem, OR 97310-1327
How to Renew Your Oregon DBA
You’ll need to renew your Oregon assumed business name every two years. The state will send you notice about 45 days before your DBA expires. You can renew online through the Oregon Business Registry. Renewals cost $50. If you fail to renew your DBA before the two years is up, you’ll need to start the process all over and register your DBA again.
Can I change or cancel my Oregon DBA?
While new DBA registrations and renewals can be completed online, you’ll need to file a paper application in person or by mail if you want to update your DBA information, or outright cancel it. To change your DBA information, you’ll file an Assumed Business Name Amendment form. To cancel your DBA you’ll file an Assumed Business Name Cancellation form. Both forms cost $50 to file. You’ll need to mail these forms, along with a check, to:
Secretary of State
255 Capitol St. NE
Salem, OR 97310-1327
Registering a DBA vs. Starting a Business in Oregon
Registering a DBA should not be confused with starting a business. A DBA is a tool businesses can use to market themselves under a different name. Starting a business can involve getting a DBA, but it isn’t required. You’ll need a business (sole proprietorship, LLC, corporation, etc…) before you can get a DBA.
1. Sell a product or service: If you’re getting paid to provide a product or service, you’re in business. Single owner businesses are referred to as sole proprietors. Businesses with two or more owners are called general partnerships. Both are easy to start because they require no formal state paperwork or fees. Neither type of business will protect your personal assets in the event of a lawsuit or bankruptcy. For that kind of asset protection, you’ll need to formally register your business with Oregon’s Secretary of State (SOS).
2. Register your business with the state: LLCs and corporations offer liability protection to their owners in the event that the business gets sued or goes bankrupt. To form a business entity like an Oregon LLC or corporation, you’ll need to file formal registration documents with the state and pay the required fee ($100), as well as file an Oregon annual report.
DBA vs. LLC in Oregon
A DBA is just a name that your business can use. It isn’t an actual business. An Oregon LLC is an actual legal business entity, and registering one with the state creates legal separation between the business and the owners (members) of the business. While both LLCs and DBAs are registered with the state, only an LLC gives business owners asset protection in the event of a lawsuit or bankruptcy.
Ask yourself, what do you want? Are you a sole proprietor looking for a snappy name for your business, or do you want something more? If you want asset protection and a business name, an LLC is the way to go, and Northwest can help you get one.
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Oregon DBA FAQs
Is registering a DBA required in Oregon?
Yes. Oregon law requires businesses that operate under a business name that is different from their legal name to register that name with the state.
How do I register a DBA in Oregon?
The process to get a DBA in Oregon involves filing an application with the state and paying a $50 filing fee. But before you do that, you’ll need to do a little research to make sure no other business is using the name, or something similar, in Oregon.
How much does it cost to get a DBA in Oregon?
How long does it take to get an Oregon DBA?
Online and in person DBA filings take about 5-7 business days to be processed. Mailed filings will take longer because you’ll need to account for postal times.
Do I need a separate bank account for my DBA?
No. Getting a DBA doesn’t create a new business, so you’re not required to get a new bank account. However, there are some reasons why you might prefer to open a new bank account for a DBA. You may want to keep your brand names 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. 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 Oregon?
Oregon allows businesses to have as many DBAs they want. Each DBA will need to go through the same registration process and pay the $50 fee.
What is my legal business name?
Your business’s legal name is the name that is listed on its government documents (for example, state and tax filings).
- For formal business entities like LLCs, corporations, and non-profits, a business’s legal name is the name 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.