What Is a DBA Name?

A DBA name,which stands for Doing Business As, lets your company do business under a different name. It's also known as a trade name or fictitious business. You file for a DBA namewith the state, county, or local municipality. This is the easiest way to do business under a new business name without going through the steps to create a brand new business entity. A DBA name allows you to accept payments, market, and present yourself as the business instead of your own name. Businesses of all kinds can use a DBA along with the different type of corporate structures. The most common kind of corporate structures include:

When to File a DBA

The time to file for a DBA is the moment you decide to use a business name instead of your own. If you are a sole proprietorship, chances are you're already using your own name for your business. Filing for a DBA gives you the ability to keep your personal name out of the operation and work as a business instead of an individual. Another reason to file a DBA is when the company is entering into a new kind of business that isn't reflected by the current name or is a completely different operation than the original one.

General partnerships can also file a DBA and use the partners' names as the name of the business. In the event you operate a website and want the business to reflect the website URL, you should file a DBA. Some businesses won't engage in transactions with you if you are working with your own name. Filing for a DBA allows you to come into contact and work with more businesses than if you didn't have one.

How to File a DBA

Begin by contacting the local business department in the town or county you live in or navigate to its website. Either avenue should supply you with the information you need to start the process of filing as a DBA. Obtain the proper paperwork, enter the requested information, then submit it to the proper authority. Said authority will tell you of how long it will take for your DBA to become official.

Advantages of DBA

If you're on a budget, a DBA is an inexpensive and easy way to get started on your business venture. You don't have to deal with the ongoing paperwork and maintenance issues that come with forming a corporation or an LLC. And it's possible to convert the DBA into a corporation at any time without the loss of the name. This can get done at any time, but you might want to wait until the business is running at a profit and you need the protections that are offered by forming a corporation.

Disadvantages of DBA

A DBA does not protect you or your assets from a lawsuit. It only allows you to use a business name instead of a personal name and nothing more. It can help you open a bank account in the event the bank does not accept a sole proprietorship, but it does not give you the protections that are offered by forming a corporation. If someone decides to sue you, all of your personal assets are at risk.

There is no portability given to a DBA. That is, if you form a DBA in one county, the next county over may not honor it and require you to file for a DBA that's registered in that county. The only exception to this possibility is when the state has a statewide DBA system that overrides local laws.

What Happens After Filing for a DBA

Once you file for your DBA, you wait for approval to operate under that name. After approval has been granted, you can start operating under the business name instead of your own. You may also want to trademark the intellectual property you create while using the Doing Business As in order to protect any unique service or goods you offer.

In the event you find that filing a DBA is too complicated, you can contact a business lawyer to help you with the process. Ask for referrals from friends, businesses, or contact the local bar association for a list of business lawyers in your area.

If you need help with a DBA, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Stripe, and Twilio.