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How to Get a DBA (Doing Business As) Name For Your Business

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To get a DBA name (a “doing business as” name), you’ll need to follow guidelines and procedures specific to your state. In most states, this means registering the DBA name with the office of the secretary of state or with the county where you formed your business, though some states don’t require DBA registration at all.

Below, you’ll find a general guide on the DBA, as well as information about registering a DBA in any state. If you’d prefer to skip directly to state-specific information, scroll to the state-by-state registration table at the bottom of the page.

Getting a DBA for Your Business

1

What is a DBA name?

A DBA (“doing business as”) name is a business’s operating name, not its legal name. DBA names are also called assumed names or trade names. You can think of a DBA as a business pseudonym. Just keep in mind that a DBA is not a separate legal entity from your business. A DBA is just another name your business uses.

Naturally, there are rules in place to ensure businesses aren’t just making up names left and right and engaging in fraud, and so getting a DBA usually involves filing state and/or county paperwork. Registering as a DBA also doesn’t prevent others from using the name (outside of Alaska and North Dakota) because the DBA is not the business’s legal name.

If you want to better protect your name, you’ll need to trademark it. Learn about the advantages and disadvantages of registering a trademark at “Should You Have a Registered Trademark?” Need to check if the name you want is available in your state? Conduct a Free Business Name Search

2

Is a DBA a separate legal entity?

No. Registering a DBA name with the state doesn’t create a separate business entity. A DBA is just another name your business uses. But you can use your DBA name to advertise, open a bank account, write checks, and receive payments—just make sure to follow your state’s guidelines. Using a DBA name without following state regulations in your area can incur penalties or constitute fraud.

3

Is a DBA the same as a fictitious name?

Not always. Some states use the terms “DBA” and “fictitious name” interchangeably, while some states only use the term “fictitious name” to refer to foreign (out-of-state) business entities whose legal names are not available for use in the state. Before you try to get a DBA name in your state, research the state’s terminology to make sure you locate and submit the correct state forms. You’ll find many of the relevant state terms in the extended table at the bottom of this page.

Discover how to register an out-of-state business at Northwest’s guide to Foreign Qualification.

4

Why would I need a DBA?

You may need or want a DBA if any of the following situations apply to your business:

You want a new business line but not a whole new business

Names are essential tools for branding. Using a DBA gives you the flexibility to launch additional brands or target specific audiences without starting a separate business. For example, imagine you own a bakery called Sweet Pastries, but you want to target the lucrative designer wedding cake market. You could choose a wedding-themed DBA to better advertise in that market.

You’re a sole proprietor

If you’re a sole proprietor (or in a general partnership), there is no legal distinction between you and your business. If your name is Kim Jenkins, you’ll be operating your business as Kim Jenkins, an individual, and “Kim Jenkins” will be the name listed on any contracts, checks, and bank accounts—unless you get a DBA. In this case, getting a DBA can help clarify what your business actually does (for instance, “Lovely Landscaping” tells potential clients more than “Kim Jenkins”) and make you appear more professional. With a DBA, clients and customers can write checks to your business name instead of to you directly. Having a bank account in your business’s name can also help keep your business and personal finances separate.

5

Benefits of a DBA

No additional taxes on DBAs

Sometimes people worry that having a DBA will mean filing another set of taxes. Nope—DBAs are just alternate names for your single business entity. Your tax filing won’t change just because you have a DBA. If you have a federal tax ID (also called an EIN or FEIN), the ID will be assigned to the legal name of your business entity. You don’t need a separate tax ID for a DBA.

No limits on the number of DBAs

There’s no general limit on how many DBAs you can have (although there may be state or local restrictions). However, practically speaking, it rarely makes sense to have tons of DBAs. Registering multiple DBAs can complicate bookkeeping and rack up filing costs.

No changes to your LLC or corporate benefits & protections

Some people mistakenly think a DBA has its own, separate benefits and protections, but a DBA is just a name—not an independent legal entity. For example, imagine you formed a business called Cutie Cosmetics LLC. You also have two DBAs for specialized product lines: Cutie Skincare and Cutie Hair Beauty. If Cutie Hair Beauty’s new shampoo makes people’s hair fall out and you get sued, ALL your assets—from Cutie Hair Beauty, Cutie Skincare and Cutie Cosmetics LLC—could be at risk. For separate asset protection, you would have to create a separate legal entity.

Interested in starting a new business instead of registering a DBA? Check out Northwest’s LLC Guide and Incorporation Guide to discover the type of business structure that’s right for you.

6

State-by-state DBA registration requirements

StateFeesDBA Requirements
Alabama$30AL Requirements
Alaska$25AK Requirements
Arizona$10AZ Requirements
  • Where do I register? Arizona Secretary of State
  • State form: Trade Name Application
  • Is renewal required? Every 5 years
  • Is publishing in a local paper required? No
  • Do I have to register a DBA if operating under another name? Yes
  • Other notes: Online filing only.
Arkansas$15-$25AR Requirements
  • Where do I register? Arkansas Secretary of State, Business Services Division
  • State form: Application for Fictitious Name
  • Is renewal required? No
  • Is publishing in a local paper required? No
  • Do I have to register a DBA if operating under another name? Yes
  • Other notes: Domestic corporations are also required to file in their county of registration (except in Pulaski County). Sole proprietors and general partnerships file w/county, not the state.
CaliforniavariesCA Requirements
  • Where do I register? Filings are submitted in the city or county of registration.
  • State form: N/A
  • Is renewal required? Varies by city/county
  • Is publishing in a local paper required? Yes (once a week for 4 weeks)
  • Do I have to register a DBA if operating under another name? Yes
Colorado$20CO Requirements
  • Where do I register? Colorado Secretary of State
  • State form: Statement of Trade Name
  • Is renewal required? Every year
  • Is publishing in a local paper required? No
  • Do I have to register a DBA if operating under another name? Yes
  • Other notes: Online filing only.
Connecticut$10CT Requirements
  • Where do I register? Filings are submitted in the town of registration.
  • State form: N/A
  • Is renewal required? No
  • Is publishing in a local paper required? No
  • Do I have to register a DBA if operating under another name? Yes
Delaware$25DE Requirements
  • Where do I register?  Filings can be submitted in the county of registration.
  • State form: N/A
  • Is renewal required? No
  • Is publishing in a local paper required? No
  • Do I have to register a DBA if operating under another name? DBAs are not mandatory for incorporated businesses.
  • Other notes: Must be notarized. Unincorporated businesses (like sole proprietorships) that do not want to include surnames may be required by their county to obtain a DBA.
District of Columbia$55DC Requirements
Florida$50FL Requirements
GeorgiavariesGA Requirements
  • Where do I register? Filings are submitted in the county of registration.
  • State form: N/A
  • Is renewal required? No
  • Is publishing in a local paper required? Yes (once a week for 2 weeks)
  • Do I have to register a DBA if operating under another name? Yes
Hawaii$51HI Requirements
Idaho$25ID Requirements
  • Where do I register? Idaho Secretary of State
  • State form: Certificate of Assumed Business Name
  • Is renewal required? No
  • Is publishing in a local paper required? No
  • Do I have to register a DBA if operating under another name? Yes
Illinois$30-$150IL Requirements
  • Where do I register? Illinois Secretary of State, Business Services Department
  • State form: LLC: Form LLC-1.20, Corp: Form BCA-4.15/4.20, LP: Form 108.5
  • Is renewal required? Every five years (years that end in “5” or “0”)
  • Is publishing in a local paper required? Yes, for those who submit county filings, such as sole proprietors (once a week for 3 weeks)
  • Do I have to register a DBA if operating under another name? Yes
  • Other notes: Filings are $30/year, renewed in set 5 year periods. Sole proprietors and general partnerships file w/county, not the state. Filings must be submitted in duplicate.
Indiana$30 ($21 online)IN Requirements
Iowa$5IA Requirements
  • Where do I register? Iowa Secretary of State
  • State form: Fictitious Name Resolution
  • Is renewal required? No
  • Is publishing in a local paper required? No
  • Do I have to register a DBA if operating under another name? Yes
  • Other notes: Sole proprietors and general partnerships file w/county, not the state.
KansasN/AKS Requirements
  • Where do I register? The state has no formal DBA process.
  • State form: N/A
  • Is renewal required? N/A
  • Is publishing in a local paper required? N/A
  • Do I have to register a DBA if operating under another name? No
Kentucky$20KY Requirements
  • Where do I register? Kentucky Secretary of State, Division of Business Filings
  • State form: Certificate of Assumed Name
  • Is renewal required? Every 5 years
  • Is publishing in a local paper required? No
  • Do I have to register a DBA if operating under another name? Yes
  • Other notes: Counties may also require a copy of the Certificate of Assumed Name application to be filed with the county clerk. Sole proprietors file w/county, not the state.
LouisianavariesLA Requirements
  • Where do I register? Filings are submitted in the parish of registration.
  • State form: N/A
  • Is renewal required? Varies
  • Is publishing in a local paper required? Varies
  • Do I have to register a DBA if operating under another name? Yes
  • Other notes: Sole proprietors are exempt from the state’s DBA requirements.
Maine$125ME Requirements
Maryland$25MD Requirements
MassachusettsvariesMA Requirements
  • Where do I register? Filings are submitted in the city or town of registration.
  • State form: N/A
  • Is renewal required? Every 4 years
  • Is publishing in a local paper required? No
  • Do I have to register a DBA if operating under another name? Yes
Michigan$10 ($25 for LLCs)MI Requirements
Minnesota$30 ($50 online)MN Requirements
Mississippi$25MS Requirements
Missouri$7MO Requirements
Montana$20MT Requirements
Nebraska$100NE Requirements
NevadavariesNV Requirements
  • Where do I register? Filings are done in the county of registration.
  • State form: N/A
  • Is renewal required? Varies
  • Is publishing in a local paper required? No
  • Do I have to register a DBA if operating under another name? Yes
New Hampshire$50NH Requirements
New Jersey$50NJ Requirements
New MexicoN/ANM Requirements
  • Where do I register? The state has no formal DBA process.
  • State form: N/A
  • Is renewal required? N/A
  • Is publishing in a local paper required? N/A
  • Do I have to register a DBA if operating under another name? No
New York$25*NY Requirements
North CarolinavariesNC Requirements
  • Where do I register? Filings are submitted in the county of registration.
  • State form: N/A
  • Is renewal required? Varies
  • Is publishing in a local paper required? No
  • Do I have to register a DBA if operating under another name? Yes
North Dakota$25ND Requirements
Ohio$39OH Requirements
Oklahoma$25OK Requirements
Oregon$50OR Requirements
Pennsylvania$70PA Requirements
Rhode Island$50RI Requirements
South Carolina$10SC Requirements
  • Where do I register? South Carolina Secretary of State
  • State form: Assumed Name Certificate
  • Is renewal required? Every 5 years
  • Is publishing in a local paper required? No
  • Do I have to register a DBA if operating under another name? Yes
  • Other notes: Only required for Limited Partnerships. Submit filing in duplicate.
South Dakota$10SD Requirements
  • Where do I register? South Dakota Secretary of State
  • State form: Register a New DBA
  • Is renewal required? Every 5 years
  • Is publishing in a local paper required? No
  • Do I have to register a DBA if operating under another name? Yes
  • Other notes: Online filing only.
Tennessee$20TN Requirements
Texas$25TX Requirements
  • Where do I register? Texas Secretary of State. A county assumed name certificate is also required to be filed in the county of registration.
  • State form: Assumed Name Certificate
  • Is renewal required? Every 10 years
  • Is publishing in a local paper required? No
  • Do I have to register a DBA if operating under another name? Yes
  • Other notes: Submit filing in duplicate. Sole proprietors and general partnerships file w/county, not the state.
Utah$22UT Requirements
Vermont$50VT Requirements
Virginia$10VA Requirements
  • Where do I register? Filings are done in the county of registration.
  • State form: N/A
  • Is renewal required? No
  • Is publishing in a local paper required? No
  • Do I have to register a DBA if operating under another name? Yes
  • Other notes: LPs, LLCs and corporations must file a copy of their registration with the state corporation commission.
Washington$24WA Requirements
West Virginia$25WV Requirements
Wisconsin$15WI Requirements
  • Where do I register? Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions
  • State form: Registration of Tradename/Trademark
  • Is renewal required? Every 10 years
  • Is publishing in a local paper required? No
  • Do I have to register a DBA if operating under another name? No, it’s optional
  • Other notes: Must be notarized. Sole proprietors and general partnerships file a Registration of Firm Names with the county.
Wyoming$100WY Requirements
  • Where do I register? Wyoming Secretary of State
  • State form: Application for Registration of Trade Name
  • Is renewal required? Every 10 years
  • Is publishing in a local paper required? No
  • Do I have to register a DBA if operating under another name? No, it’s optional
  • Other notes: Must be notarized. Name must be in use in Wyoming prior to registration.

State, county and city requirements vary widely, but you’re generally required to file state or local forms, pay a fee, and sometimes publish a notice of your business’s DBA in a local newspaper. The specific requirements for each state are outlined in the chart below. Note that the following chart focuses on state-level requirements. Your business may be subject to additional requirements at the city or county levels.

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