How do you set up a doing business as name (DBA) for a small business? Filing for a fictitious name is quite easy across all 50 states.
Let’s take a closer look at the meaning of a DBA and the benefits that come with registering this name. Then, we will walk you through the process of setting up a DBA step by step.
What is a DBA?
A DBA is a doing business as name. DBAs also go by additional names depending on your state of incorporation. Some of these include fictitious names, assumed names, and trade names.
A DBA allows you to conduct business under a name that is different from your existing corporate name. Does it matter which entity formation you incorporated as if you want to file for a DBA? Not at all! All entities including sole proprietors, limited liability companies (LLCs), partnerships, and corporations are eligible to file for a DBA.
Aside from operating business under another name, what else can you do with a DBA? Let’s review some common areas where it’s beneficial to set up a DBA.
- Opening a business bank account. Most entrepreneurs know they may not use their personal bank account to issue or receive checks under their company name. In addition, most banks will require that you bring a certified copy of your DBA along prior to opening this account. Registering for a DBA allows you to open a business bank account. After this account is open, you may collect checks and payments under the business’s name.
- Public advertising. We will review in a moment more about what it means to publish your DBA in a public newspaper. In the meantime, registering your DBA means you will be able to start publicly advertising and marketing under this name. This allows you to start building brand awareness and visibility of your business.
- Establishing a separate business identity. Having a DBA gives you the chance to establish a separate business identity with customers and vendors. This allows your business to gain professionalism.
Setting Up a DBA
You know what a DBA is and its benefits. Now it’s time to start setting up a DBA. Follow these steps to begin the process.
1. Choose a DBA Name
A DBA is the official and public registration of a name under which you do business. Choosing this name is a bit different from registering a trademark name. For example, DBA names may not include a corporate indicator. Examples include “LLC” or “Inc.”
Another important difference is that a DBA is not a corporate name. Unlike trademarks, it does not receive exclusive rights at the federal level. DBAs do allow the owner to claim the name on a state level. Once you register for a DBA you may be able to discourage other businesses in the same state from registering the same name. This is because your name will already be filed for registration.
Keep in mind that no two DBAs in the same state may similar or the exact same. As such, it is wise to conduct a name search prior to picking out a name. Conducting a search allows you to see which DBAs are available for registration. If you notice the DBA you wish to register is already in use, take a moment to decide on another name.
You may search through most Secretary of State business entity search tools or work with MyCorporation. We can help complete a thorough name search on your behalf, and report back with findings to help you avoid unnecessary rejections.
2. Prepare the DBA Application
You may file a DBA application with the appropriate Secretary of State contact or work alongside the team at MyCorporation to file your DBA in the appropriate county of the principal place of business. Each application will differ a bit, but you will need to include the following information on your application.
- DBA, or trade name or fictitious name.
- Street address of the business and where the name is used. Please note that a P.O. Box is not an acceptable form of address.
- Legal name of the business owner using the DBA.
- Street address of the business owner. This may not be a P.O. Box.
- Description of what the business does.
- Signature of the owner, title, and date.
Make sure to pay the appropriate filing fee when setting up your DBA. Make the amount payable to the appropriate contact and submit your application and any other documents to the correct address.
What Happens After I File My DBA?
You may file your DBA on your own or work with MyCorporation’s DBA filing service. Our business filing experts will file your DBA application for you — and in return, all you need to do is sign and return the documents in a pre-supplied envelope. Once you are
Once you have successfully filed your DBA and been approved, you will receive an approval and publication certificate for your records.
Your state of incorporation may ask you to publish information about the DBA in a local newspaper. The rules about this information may vary, with some states requesting you to publish your DBA notice for four consecutive weeks. Follow the instructions you receive. If you have any additional questions, reach out to your local Secretary of State.
In addition, make sure to renew your DBA. This will also vary depending on your state of incorporation. Some states may require you to renew your DBA every five years. Others may not have an expiration date for DBAs. Check in with your local Secretary of State to see which rules apply to you and your DBA.
Once you have this new declaration of your official business name, you may begin using your DBA. Collect checks and payments under your business name, advertise, and embrace confidence in knowing you can do business under another name without having to form a new entity formation.
Ready to start setting up a DBA? MyCorporation is here to help! Reach out to our team at mycorporation.com or call us at 877-692-6772.