1. Benefits of DBA Filing
2. DBA Filing Requirements
3. Restrictions on Choosing a DBA Name
4. Where and How to File a DBA
5. DBA Filing vs. Trademark Filing
6. Should a Corporation File a DBA?

Corporation DBA, or Doing Business As, is the registration of the business name if you are operating under a different name than the one your company is registered with.

Benefits of DBA Filing

A DBA registration allows you to operate under a trade name different from your company name. It's often referred to as an assumed name or a fictitious name. If you operate a sole proprietorship or a general partnership business under a different name from that of the owner or a partner, you may have to apply for DBA registration depending upon the state where you are conducting the business.

LLCs, S-corporations, C-corporations, and in some cases, even nonprofit organizations may have to do a DBA filing if they are conducting business under a name different than what is mentioned in their incorporation documents.

A DBA registration can be helpful for your business in several ways:

  • You can open a bank account in the name of your business.
  • You can transact online in the name of your business.
  • You can legally market your products and services.
  • Your business gets a professional image.

DBA Filing Requirements

DBA registration is compulsory in most of the states for conducting business under a different name from its owner. The term “conducting business” also includes related activities like marketing, advertising, and using a business name on letterheads and business cards.

In addition to sole proprietors, LLCs and corporations have to file a DBA if they are conducting business under any other name than their corporate name.

Examples:

  • Sole owners and general partners usually prefer to conduct business under an assumed name. For example, if someone named John Smith operates his business under the name of Smith Roofing, he will have to file a DBA.
  • LLCs and corporations often use different business names for different product lines. For example, if a company named ABC Inc. runs its catering business under the name of ABC Catering, it will have to register the name as DBA.

Restrictions on Choosing a DBA Name

You can choose to use almost any name as your DBA. However, you cannot style it like a corporate name unless your business is incorporated with that name. For instance, you cannot use ABC Inc. as your DBA unless your company is registered as ABC Inc. This is to prevent the misuse of suffixes like Inc., Corp., and Ltd. for creating misleading impressions regarding your business.

Where and How to File a DBA

  • Depending upon the state, you may be required to file a DBA either at the state or at the county level.
  • You must file your DBA with the state or the county where you are operating your business under the fictitious name.
  • In some states and counties, you may also have to publish a newspaper notification of your DBA.
  • In some jurisdictions, you may be required to file your DBA before you begin using the fictitious business name, while some jurisdictions may give you certain time (usually 30 to 60 days) to file the DBA after you begin conducting the business.
  • DBA filings usually take somewhere between one and four weeks.

DBA Filing vs. Trademark Filing

  • DBA filing is different from filing a trademark.
  • DBA filing does not give you an exclusive right to use the DBA name.
  • Many jurisdictions accept multiple applicants for the same DBA.
  • If you'd like to have an exclusive right over a certain name, you should register a trademark.

Should a Corporation File a DBA?

If your corporation has a division that is conducting business under a name even slightly different from the registered name of your corporation, then you may be required to file a DBA. For instance, if you are a finance company registered as ABC Finance Inc., but marketing your home finance services through a website called abchomefinance.com, you would most likely be required to file a DBA.

Consider the following points in respect of a corporation DBA:

  • Corporations usually use a DBA if they are into multiple industries.
  • If you fail to register the DBA in every jurisdiction where the company operates under that DBA, you would be liable to fines and penalties.
  • Using a DBA does not affect the limited liability status of the corporation.
  • A corporation's DBA need not contain an identifier like corporation, incorporated, or limited, either in full or in an abbreviated form.
  • A corporation may have to file a fresh DBA after a certain period of time, usually five years.

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