Delaware DBA: Everything You Need to Know
Businesses need a Delaware DBA, or doing business as, when they decide to do business under a name other than the one used when the business was formed.3 min read
Updated November 23, 2020:
Businesses need a Delaware DBA, or doing business as, when they decide to do business under a name other than the one used when the business was formed. A DBA is a fictitious name registration that allows a company to have multiple sub-company names that better describe what the company does. In Delaware, this registration is completed through the Delaware state courts. Doing business with a fictitious name shouldn't have any tax implications.
When and Why You Need a DBA
DBA registration is required for a company looking to do business under a different name on a county-by-county basis. This registration with the relevant counties in Delaware has nothing to do with the necessary business licenses. Filing a Fictitious Name Certificate is required by law to do business under a different name. This can be filed on the Division of Revenue's One Stop Business Registration and Licensing website.
Setting Up a DBA in Delaware
In Delaware, DBA registration is completed in the county in which the company operates and does business. If the company is located in Delaware and transacting business there, then it is required to file for a DBA in Delaware. The DBA filing process is begun by filing a DBA registration in the county, or counties, in which the business is doing business.
Filing a DBA in Delaware
Step 1: Verify Your DBA Name
Before filing for a DBA, you must make sure your desired name is available; a business name search is provided on the Delaware Courts website. If the name is already taken, you will have to change it to be unique. This may require:
- Changing the spelling
- Rearranging the words
- Using a possessive
Once you have a variation that works, you can file with the state.
Step 2: Complete the Registration Form
Now that you've settled on a name, you can fill out the DBA registration form and register an LLC. This requires:
- Name and address of corporation or LLC
- Corporation or LLC's phone number
- Date formed
- Nature of business
- DBA name
- Owners/partners of the business and addresses
- Date and signature of principal or agent
- Notary in the state and county of filing
The Delaware DBA registration can be printed and mailed along with a $25 filing fee.
Step 3: Mail-in Documents
Your documents must be submitted to the county's Prothonotary's office, rather than the state. The office in which you send your documents depends on which county you are doing business in. Fictitious name registration is only applicable within the county in which you file. Multiple filings must be made to do business in multiple counties.
- Traditional LLC with divisions: If Joe has formed a company called Plant Food LLC and wants to open Joe Schmo's Coffee under that name, then the DBA filing would say “Plant Food LLC, DBA Joe Schmo's Coffee.” If Joe also has a bike shop, he can file “Cool Breeze LLC, DBA Joe's Bike Shop.”
- Series LLC: In the case of a series LLC, where you want each series to have its own bank account and your series LLC is named: “Mad Roasters, LLC,” then your coffee shop could file a DBA under the name “Mad Roasters, LLC, Coffee Shop Series DBA Joe's Coffee Shop.”
- International: In the case of foreign governments needing to see original documents and seals, the Delaware DBA is one of the only forms that is a “wet ink: original signature and stamp." This gives foreign officials more confidence when dealing with businesses in Delaware.
How Many DBAs Do I Need?
Unlimited DBAs allow an established entrepreneur to have multiple business names under one corporate umbrella. Though multiple DBAs can be issued for multiple trade names, a DBA is not enough to change the name of an entity — an amendment is required instead. While a DBA is usually for a company that has already incorporated, it's possible to have a DBA without being incorporated, but it lacks the asset protection of a corporate entity.
If you need help with filing a Delaware 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, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.