Why Small Businesses Need To File For A DBA

Do you know what DBA stands for?

For those unfamiliar with the acronym, DBA stands for doing business as name. A DBA may also go by several additional names including fictitious business name, trade name, and assumed name. A DBA is the official and public registration of a name under which you do business.

But, a DBA is not the same as a corporate business name on file with the Secretary of State. It’s necessary to register and file for a DBA if your company decides to conduct business or accept money under a name that is not the same as the business owner’s legal name. In fact, it’s often a requirement in most states.

What happens once a small business has registered for a DBA? They may now do business under this fictitious name in the state or county they conduct business out of. However, many entrepreneurs file for a DBA for more reasons beyond doing business under a fake name. Let’s take a look at DBA benefits, which entities need DBAs, and what entrepreneurs should know before setting up a DBA.

What Benefits Do I Receive When I File For A DBA?

What else can you do with a DBA, aside from conduct business or accept money under an assumed name? Here are a few additional benefits entrepreneurs receive when they file for a DBA.

  • Opening a business bank account. A business owner is unable to use their personal bank account to issue checks or receive checks under their business name. Filing for a DBA ahead of time allows entrepreneurs to open a business bank account. Most banks generally require a certified copy of your DBA before you can open this account. Once you have a DBA, you may collect checks and payments under the company’s DBA.
  • Public advertising. Now that you have a new declaration of your official business name, you may begin advertising under the DBA. Entrepreneurs may now begin marketing publicly to increase the visibility of their business.
  • Create a separate business identity. Small businesses look much more professional once they file for a DBA. The assumed name allows them to establish a separate business identity for customers and vendors. This works to present your business in a professional light.
  • Discourage others from usage. You’ll be able to protect your brand and discourage others from registering your name by officially utilizing your DBA.

Are DBAs The Same As Trademarks?

When you file for a DBA, is it the same as filing for a trademark?

The short answer is no. A trademark is filed to protect unique phrases, designs, and symbols that differentiate your business from its competition. Once a trademark has been registered, the owner receives exclusive rights to use that mark.

A DBA, on the other hand, does not grant exclusivity for the use of a name. DBAs identify the business and claim the business’s name, but they only claim the name itself. Once you file for a DBA, the name cannot be used by another business as far as the state level. What if a business in the next state over wanted to register the same DBA as your business? They could do it as long as no other business in their same state had already claimed that name.

However, DBAs and trademarks do have one trait in common. They both offer protection for the name of the business.

Are DBAs The Same As Business Licenses?

Much like trademarks, filing for a DBA is often confused with filing for business licenses. Are DBAs similar to business licenses?

The answer to this commonly asked question is, once again, no. A DBA will identify a business and claim its fictitious name. A business license is a permit that allows you to operate a business in its given city, county, or state. Nearly every business, whether it is a storefront or based online, needs a business license to legally operate.

How do you obtain a business license? Regulations for business licenses vary depending on the city, state, and county. It’s recommended that you check in with your local Secretary of State to make sure you are applying for the proper license. They will also provide further information about the requirements and fees for obtaining a business license.

Who Should File For A DBA?

Does your business conduct business under a name that isn’t your own? Then, you should register for a DBA in the state or county you do business in. However, if you are curious about whether you need to file for a DBA the answer depends on how your business operates.  

  • Sole Proprietors: Sole proprietorships are entities where the owner calls the shots and runs the business on their own. Many sole proprietors will use a business name other than their own, so they will need to file for a DBA. For example, let’s say we have a sole proprietor named Jane Brown. The name of her business is “Donuts Unlimited.” Jane would need to register her business as Jane Brown, doing business as “Donuts Unlimited.” The only reason you would not register for a DBA is if you want your business to operate solely under its personal name.
  • LLC/Corporation: Have you already formed an LLC or corporation, but want to do business under a name different from your corporate name? Most states will require you to file a DBA. Registering for a DBA will allow both entities to do business under other names without forming new organizations.

How To File For A DBA

Are you ready to file for a DBA? Make sure you follow these steps!

  1. Pick a memorable name. Conduct a name search with the Secretary of State. This will ensure your DBA does not infringe on any existing marks in the state you want to file for a DBA in.
  2. Make sure you have necessary information for your DBA application. This includes the applicant’s name, date of filing, and the name of the fictitious business and its address.
  3. Pay the filing fee. There is a state or county fee associated when filing DBA documents with the appropriate government entity.
  4. Publish the name. Once you have applied for a DBA, most states require you publish information about the DBA in a local newspaper. Store the documentation in a safe place.

Need Extra Help?

Are you having difficulty filing your DBA? Let MyCorporation help out! We offer a DBA filing service where our business filing experts can file your DBA application for you. Our experts complete the correct forms for your country and state and FedEx them to your business. All you have to do is sign and return the documents in the pre-supplies envelope.

Afterwards, we work with the state and county to file your DBA. We also check its registration status and even publish it where required in most states. You’ll receive the approval and publication certificate for your records — and have the peace of mind in knowing our professionals helped file for your DBA.