Doing business as in Virginia is a certificate that registers a fictitious name for your business. This is also called an assumed name. A doing business as (DBA) certificate is required for anyone doing business under a name other than his or her own name.

What Is the Purpose of a DBA?

This certificate informs the government of the individuals who own a business. The county clerk will have a record of this information so he or she knows who is responsible for the company's actions, debts, and responsibilities.

Failure to register for this certificate if you do business in Virginia in a name other than your business's or your own legal name carries legal consequences. In fact, it is a crime that carries a fine of $2500 or a year in prison.

Once your company has filed for a DBA, you can enter contracts, open bank accounts, and operate under the assumed name.

If you are a sole proprietor, you may raise the profile of your business by using a professional name rather than your own name.

How Do You Register a DBA in Virginia?

You need to register your assumed business name in the county where you plan to do business, as well as with the Virginia State Corporation Commission if you have a limited liability company (LLC) or corporation.

First, you'll need to search the name you want to use for your Virginia business to make sure it isn't already taken by another company registered in the state. You should also review the Trade Name Index on the Land Records Management System (LRMS) in the Circuit Court Clerk's Public Service Center for names already recorded. If your desired name is available, the next step is to complete a Certificate of Assumed Name (CC-1050).

This document requires you to enter your legal name and contact information along with the name and contact information of your business and the fictitious name you plan to use. You'll need to sign the document and have it notarized. If you have a partnership, all partners will need to sign will a notary present.

This can be downloaded, printed, and mailed to your local court clerk. If you want to receive a certified copy in return, include a self-addressed stamped envelope. Alternatively, you can include $.50 to cover mailing costs. This form carries a $10 filing fee. You can pay in cash or with a check or money order payable to the Clerk of Circuit Court.

The mailing address for the form is Clerk of Circuit Court, Public Service Center, 9311 Lee Avenue, Manassas VA 20110.

The application must be filed in the county where you have a physical business location, even if you have customers all over the state or country. Some counties may have additional procedures or charge additional fees.

Follow the guidelines provided by the Virginia Judicial System to make sure your application is complete and valid. You must use black ink when completing handwritten forms.

When the Certificate is filed, you may get certified copies from the Circuit Court at a cost of $2.50 per copy. You'll also receive a receipt which should be filed with your business records.

What If Your Business Is a Foreign Entity?

If your company is already registered in another state, you have to register as a foreign business entity with the Virginia State Corporation Commission before you register a DBA name with the county. If you already have an LLC, corporation, or general or limited partnership in Virginia, you do not need to register a business name at the county level unless you want to use a name that is different from your legal business name.

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