How to Get an Assumed Name in Texas
A Texas DBA is any name that a Texas business uses that isn't its legal name. DBAs can be used to open business bank accounts, take payments from customers, pay vendors, build websites, advertise on social media, and even add brands or new products to an existing business. How you register a DBA in Texas depends on what type of business you run. LLCs, corporations, and other formal entities are required to register their assumed name with the Secretary of State's office. Texas sole proprietors and general partnerships will need to register in the county where their business office is located. Let’s get started.
Your Texas DBA Guide:
What is a Texas DBA (Assumed Name)?
Every business has a legal business name. If you’re a sole proprietor, your legal business name is your legal name. If you have an LLC or corporation, your legal name is the one on your formation paperwork. A DBA is an alternative name that you can use in place of your legal name. Registering a Texas DBA (assumed name) will allow your business to operate in almost the exact same way as it would with its legal name. You’ll be able to use your DBA to market your business in print and online advertising, open a business bank account, and even write checks to vendors or accept payments from customers.
It is important to note that a DBA is not a legal entity. It does not offer any sort of asset protection. It’s just a nickname that you can use to operate a business. To protect your personal assets (house, car, savings), you’ll need to create a formal entity like a Texas LLC or corporation.
Texas DBA Registration
Why Register a DBA in Texas
If you’re going to use a DBA in Texas, you’ll need to register it with the state. If you don’t, Texas’s Business & Commerce Code (sections 71.201, 71.202, 71.203) states that your business could be subject to civil and criminal penalties.
Here are a few other reasons why a business may want to register a DBA:
You want a different business name
If you’re in business as a sole proprietor, you’re stuck using your full name as your business name (example: John Walker). If you’re in a general partnership, you’ll be required to use the last names of the business owners (Walker and Smith). While there’s nothing wrong with your name, it may not stand out when you’re trying to build a customer base. Getting a DBA that better reflects the kind of services or products your business offers can help your business attract more customers. Imagine the business a house painter could drum up if they registered “Walker, Texas Painter” as a DBA?
Your business wants to add new services or products
With a DBA, you can create a new brand without actually starting a whole new business. “Smith Brothers Fine Carpentry, LLC” for example, may want to shift their focus towards kitchen design. By registering a DBA as “Smith Brothers Kitchens and Cabinetry,” they can have two distinct business names and brands for the low price of registering a DBA.
You use your website domain name as your business name
In most cases a business domain name is just an address for your customers to find your business online. But if you use your domain name as your public-facing business name (on branding materials, social media marketing, customer communication, etc.), you’ll need to get a DBA.
How to Register a Assumed Name in Texas
How you register an assumed name in Texas depends on the type of business that you operate. Formal entities like LLCs and corporations will file an Assumed Name Certificate with the state. Sole proprietors and general partnerships will file an Assumed Name Certificate in the county where their business office is located. We’ll go over how to get an assumed name in Texas.
No matter what type of business is registering for an assumed name, you’ll need to make sure your preferred name is available. The first stop on your name search should be a Texas Taxable Entity Search. From there you should check with the US Patent and Trademark Office’s Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) to see if your assumed name has been federally trademarked. It also couldn’t hurt to type the name into an online search engine to make sure no other business in Texas is using a similar name.
As a general rule, your assumed name can’t:
- use the exact or similar name of a registered entity in Texas.
- include identifiers or words like “LLC,” “Corp.,” “cooperative,” “bank,” “professional association,” or anything that would mislead the public to think your business is something that it is not.
To register a DBA in Texas, you’ll need to fill out an Assumed Name Certificate. County filers will fill out a county-specific certificate, but both types of applications use the same name. Whether you file with the state or county, the general information you’ll need to include on the certificate is:
- The assumed name being registered.
- Legal name of the business that is registering the assumed name.
- Type of entity (LLC, corporation, sole proprietorship, etc…).
- State, country, or other jurisdiction of formation of the original entity.
- Principal business office address.
- Duration of assumed name (no more than 10 years).
- List the counties where the assumed name will be used.
- Date and signature of person authorized to sign for the business.
LLCs, corporations, and other formal entities will file their Assumed Name Certificate with the state. Sole proprietors and general partnerships will file in the county where their business office is located. If you’re not sure how your business files, Texas’ Name Filing FAQs page has you covered.
Submit the completed form in duplicate to the Secretary of State’s office. Texas only accepts DBA filings by mail, in person, or by fax. It costs $25 to register your DBA in Texas. If paying with a credit card you’ll need to factor in a 2.7% convenience fee. Once your certificate has been processed, the SOS will return a stamped copy of your application.
Secretary of State
PO Box 13697
Austin, Texas 78711-3697
James Earl Rudder Office Building
Austin, Texas 78701
Submit your Assumed Name Certificate to the county clerk’s office where your business maintains an office. For example, if your business office is located in Austin County, you’ll need to file your Assumed Name Certificate with the county clerk’s office and pay the $24 filing fee (plus 50 cents for each additional business owner). Some counties allow for online filings, but most just accept mail and in-person submissions. Fees vary by county, but in most cases you can expect to pay at least $24. Most counties charge a small fee for every business owner listed on the certificate.
How to Renew a Texas DBA
Texas DBAs last 10 years. The expiration date of your DBA is ten years to the day when it was officially registered with the state. A DBA may be renewed ateither the state or county level by filing a new Assumed Name Certificate (and paying the same filing fee) within six months of the expiration of the original assumed name.
Can I cancel my Texas DBA?
You can cancel your DBA at the state level by filing an Abandonment of Assumed Name Certificate and paying the $10 filing fee. For county filers, each county will have its own form to cancel an assumed name. For example, Austin County requires you to file an Abandonment of Assumed Name or Professional Name form and pay a $24 filing fee. Fees will vary by county, but in most cases you’ll pay around $24 to cancel your DBA at the county-level.
Filing a DBA vs. Starting a Business in Texas
Filing a DBA and starting a business are not the same thing. A business is a legal entity that usually exists to make a profit. A DBA is just a nickname for a business and not an entity on its own. There are two ways to start a business in Texas:
1. Sell a product or service
Starting a business in Texas is as simple as getting paid to provide a service or product, no state-level business registration needed. If you get paid to cut hair in your garage or sell eggs at the local farmers’ market, you’re in business. Depending on what kind of service or product your business offers, you might need to obtain state or local business licenses.
2. Register your business with the state
To form a business entity like an LLC or corporation, you must file formation documents with the state and pay a filing fee.
DBA vs. Texas LLC
A DBA is an alternative name that you can use for your business. A Texas LLC is a legal business entity that gives business owners liability protection in the event of a lawsuit or bankruptcy. Registering an LLC with the state creates a distinct legal entity, separate from the owners (members) of the business. It’s this separation that protects the assets (401k, car, house, savings, investments) of the owners of an LLC. A DBA is a tool that an LLC can use to operate under a different business name, but a DBA does not offer any additional liability protection for the business.
For sole proprietors or general partnerships that just want an affordable way to get a business name, registering an assumed name (DBA) might be the way to go. But if you want an entity that will protect your assets, a Texas LLC is what you’re looking for, and Northwest can help you get one.
Protect Your Assets with an Texas LLCGet Started Today!
Texas DBA FAQs
Is a DBA required in Texas?
Yes. If you plan to do business using a business name that isn’t its legal name, you’ll need to register your DBA with the state or county.
What is the legal name of my business?
Your business’s legal name is the name your business uses on things like state and federal tax filings, business licenses, and other formal paperwork. If you’re a sole proprietor, your legal business name is your full name. The business name of a general partnership needs to contain the last names of its owners. The legal business name of registered business entities, like LLCs or corporations, is the name listed on the formation documents that were filed with the state.
How do I register a DBA in Texas?
How you register a DBA depends on what type of business entity you own. Sole proprietors and general partnerships will register their DBAs in the county where their business office is located. LLCs, corporations, and other formal entities register with the Secretary of State.
How much does it cost to get a DBA in Texas?
State filings cost $25. County-level filing costs can vary. For example, Coleman County charges $26 (plus 25 cents for each additional business owner), but Harris County only charges $17 (plus 50 cents for each additional business owner).
How long does it take to get a Texas DBA?
State applications take about 10-12 business days to be processed (add time for mailing). County filing times will vary. Some counties, like Briscoe and Harris Counties, will process in-person filings the same day, but most filings will take 5-10 business days if submitted by mail, plus additional time for mailing.
How long will my DBA last?
Texas DBAs (state and county filings) last for 10 years.
Can I sign a business contract with my DBA?
When it comes to entering into a contract, you’ll need to use your legal business name, in addition to your DBA. For example, imagine George Jones has a DBA, “Gutter Man,” for his gutter installation business. George is a sole proprietor, which means his legal business name is his name. He should sign contracts as“George Jones, DBA Gutter Man” to make sure the contract is considered valid in a court of law should something go wrong.
Can I change my assumed name in Texas?
The only way to change your assumed name in Texas is to register a new name. You’ll need to file a new Assumed Name Certificate, pay the filing fee, and cancel the original DBA name.
Do I need a separate bank account for my DBA?
Nope. There is no legal requirement for a DBA to have a separate bank account. However, some business owners find that opening a business bank account that is dedicated to their DBA can help keep their finances better organized.
Do I need a separate EIN for my DBA?
No. Businesses with employees needan EIN (along with multi-member LLCs and corporations), but you won’t need to get a separate EIN when you register a DB
How many DBAs can I have in Texas?
Texas allows businesses to register an unlimited number of DBAs.
How can I keep my personal information off the public record?
At Northwest, we understand how important it is for our customers to live privately. Hiring a Texas registered agent to form aTexas LLC is the best way to limit the personal information you share on the public record. If you hire Northwest to form your Texas LLC, we’ll use our address in place of yours on all public filings allowable.