1. How Much Does it Cost?
2. Advantages of a DBA

Asking how much is a DBA is a common question for those wanting to establish a DBA. Specifically, a DBA, also referred to as Doing Business As, is a unique name that is used to distinguish the name of your company from your DBA. A DBA is also known as a fictitious business name or trade name. It’s essentially a name that you might want your business to use when marketing yourself to the public or engaging in business with potential customers and vendors.

In order to file your DBA name, some states require that you publish the name in your local newspaper for a number of weeks prior to completing registration. This will put the public on notice so they can identify who is making the request, if anyone objects to the name, and if the name is already being used. It is essentially a protection for the public to prevent the business owner from engaging in illegal activity by hiding behind a DBA name.

Keep in mind that there are many legitimate reasons to create a DBA; but if you do, some states, counties, and cities require you to register the name at all three municipality levels.

How Much Does it Cost?

DBA costs will vary depending on the state you are registering your DBA in. Some states might require only an initial fee while other states might require an ongoing annual fee. For example, Pennsylvania charges a one-time initial fee of $70 whereas Los Angeles charges a $26 initial fee, along with an ongoing $26 fee to be paid on an annual basis. Furthermore, the Florida charges approximately $55-65 to register a DBA. Generally, you can expect to pay between $10-$100 to formally register your DBA.

Advantages of a DBA

There are several benefits to formally establishing a DBA, including the following:

  • You can ensure that you remain compliant with the law
  • Fewer formalities
  • Registering a DBA can prevent a business owner from having to form a separate business entity

If you intend on doing business through a DBA, you should ensure that you formally register your DBA. Once you do, you are ensuring that you have remained compliant with the law. In fact, if you conduct business through a DBA but fail to register that name, you could face fines and penalties. Furthermore, if you are already operating a specific business structure, i.e. sole proprietorship, and start using the separate DBA name without formally registering it, you are putting your company’s status at risk; this could result in a suspension of your company’s status.

There are fewer formalities when doing work through a DBA. Rather than creating a separate legal entity, registering a DBA will save you time, money and paperwork. Therefore, there is no need to create a separate entity and spend the additional time and money establishing a separate business.

For example, if you operate as a sole proprietorship, you can use your DBA name at all times instead of having to create another type of legal business structure. If you want to open a business bank account in the name of the DBA, you will need to register the DBA and receive compensation from the business in the name of the DBA.

Even if you operate a corporation or LLC, but want to use a different name, using a DBA will help cut costs and avoid additional complexities as you continue to grow your business. An example of this would be if you plan on opening several restaurants, you might want to set up one larger corporation and then have a generic DBA name that you can use for the restaurant. Similarly, you might also want to create separate DBA names for each restaurant that you operate.

However, registering a DBA will not provide you with the ability to prevent others from using it. In order to do this, you will need to file for trademark protection over the name. But most other businesses will not want to use the same DBA as another company, simply to prevent confusion for outside vendors and prospective clients.

If you need help learning how to register 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, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.