Naming a business sounds simple. But coming up with a great, unique name customers will like and remember that no one else uses or has a claim to is very difficult, and it gets even harder if you’ll be doing business over a large area or, as most businesses do nowadays, do business online. The more coverage you have, the more likely you are to encounter other businesses with the same name or one similar enough to cause conflict. At the very least, you will want to avoid potential conflict by researching existing business names as thoroughly as possible.
Why would someone want a fictitious name for a business? The reasons are many. Sometimes it’s purely aesthetic – StarDog Graphics gets people’s attention much better than Greg Smith’s Graphics.
A “doing business as” (DBA) name is an assumed business name or trade name that is officially filed with the county or state (depending on where you live) so that the public knows the business owner’s identity.
The DBA exists as a form of consumer protection—to prevent unsavory business owners from operating under a fictitious name to avoid legal trouble.
Should You File a DBA?
You should file a DBA registration if your business meets one of these two criteria:
- You are a sole proprietor or general partnership whose business is using a name other than your own name. Let’s look at StarDog Graphics—since Greg Smith wants that business name, he must officially register it. But, if he chooses to operate as Greg Smith Graphics he can avoid filing a DBA. If his business name implies a group (i.e. The StarDog Group) or he just uses his first name (i.e. Greg’s Graphics), he’ll have to file a DBA.
- If you have incorporated or formed a limited liability company (LLC) and are operating the business under a different name than what’s listed on the corporate or LLC record. For example, let’s say that Greg Smith Graphics, LLC also wants to operate under the name GregSmithGraphics.com; the LLC would need to file for a DBA for GregSmithGraphics.com. Likewise, if Greg decides to expand into computer repair, then Greg Smith Graphics, LLC would need to file a DBA to do business as Greg Smith Computer Repair.
What Are The Benefits of DBA?
The main benefit of filing a DBA registration is complying with the law. For sole proprietors, a DBA allows them use a fictitious business name without creating a formal legal entity, like a LLC. It’s the least expensive way to legally operate business under a different business name.
For sole proprietors, filing a DBA is required to open a bank account and receive payment in the business name. Most banks will not open a business account for you in the fictitious name without receiving a copy of your filed DBA.
For an LLC or corporation, a DBA allows the company to operate multiple businesses without creating separate legal entities for each. For example, if you plan on opening e-commerce websites as well as brick-and-mortar locations, you can set up one corporation and then file a DBA for each website, or store location.
You should know that a DBA doesn’t protect your business name from being used by someone else. For that, you’ll need trademark protection.
How to File a DBA Registration
Requirements for filing a DBA vary nationwide. In some states, you register your DBA with the State Secretary of State or other state agency, but in others, registration is handled at the county level.
Some states require that you publish a DBA notice in your local newspaper and send them proof. Specific publication requirements vary.
DBAs should be filed before any business stationary is ordered or business is conducted. If someone in your area already is using the fictitious name, you’ll have to choose something different.
A DBA is a prerequisite to opening a business bank account, so it’s best to get it done first.
You need to officially file a “doing business as” name with the appropriate state and/or local jurisdiction. Maxfilings can take the complexity out of the process and ensure that you’re following your county and state requirements. Our DBA filing specialists will handle the research, document preparation and filing for you—saving you the footwork, and time and money.
Email MaxFilings for a price quote to handle your DBA. Please include your full name, contact information, business name, the state your business will operate in, and any additional information or questions.