DBA Texas: Everything You Need to Know
DBA Texas is about helping you create your “doing business as” name in Texas. The DBA is a name, different from your legal name, your business will operate under.
DBA stands for “doing business as,” which in Texas is also termed the “assumed name.” The DBA is the alternate name under which you will operate your business, as compared to the formal business name registered with the state or your own individual name.
If you are an individual and want your business to operate under a different name, you can send in a DBA to the municipality’s clerk’s office where your company is.
If you have a business that wants to do business with a different name than its officially incorporated legal name, then you will also need to file a “DBA.”
Filling Out the Paperwork for DBA in Texas
When you are preparing to file for a DBA, you need to first know what exactly you are applying for. The DBA is not the legal name of your business, but rather is a “trade” or “fictitious” name that your business does business as.
The business cannot be sued through its DBA, as the DBA does not refer to a legal entity. Because of this, your business will need to use its legal name, not the DBA, when engaging in transactions and entering into agreements.
You will need to first make sure that the legal name you want to use is available and officially registered with you. You will need to register with the Texas Secretary of State and can also check with them to see if any other businesses have registered under your desired name as well.
After registering your legal name, then you can register for a DBA. You need to first have your legal name registered and fully processed. The DBA will allow you to operate publicly with a name that is different from your legally incorporated one.
Unlike the legally registered name, DBAs can overlap. You can use a DBA similar or even identical to another Texas business, and other businesses can use a DBA similar to yours as well.
Many businesses will try to get a DBA when they can’t use the DBA name as their legal official name, often because another business has registered for the legal name already that they want.
DBAs are also often used in franchising. The legal name may be generic, but the DBA would reflect the state and locality its operating in.
Although your DBA can be the same as another business’ DBA, it still helps when your DBA is unique. You should check to see if your hoped-for DBA is already in use. Having similar DBAs, while allowed, may possibly lead to trademark problems and also confuse customers.
Check to see if the DBA is trademarked by doing search. Remember that trademark laws protect a person’s DBA, if it is registered as a trademark. You can use the Texas Secretary of State's website to do a search by getting an account, with a $1 fee per search.
Registering your DBA is similar by municipality in Texas. You will need to prepare an ownership certificate if you are an individual, as well as a filing fee that varies but usually is around $9. You can check DBAs by going in person as well to the local clerk for the municipality and, for a fee, they will do a name search.
For businesses hoping to get a DBA:
- You will need to use Form 503.
- You can get Form 503 either at the Texas state website or through your local municipal clerk.
- Form 503 requires companies filing for a DBA to show proof of the current legal name and registration of the company, as well as other information such as its address.
- You can then apply for a maximum of a 10-year DBA.
- You will also need to describe which municipalities you expect the business to operate and sign in.
- There is a PDF version of this form online for download.
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