Knowing how to fill out a DBA is critical if you plan on doing business under any name different from your original registered name. DBA stands for doing business as and can also be referred to as a:

  • Trade name
  • Fictitious name
  • Assumed name

If you wish to operate under any name other than the name that you legally filed your business under, you will be required to file for a DBA. A DBA will allow you to operate and perform financial transactions under the different name. With a DBA, you can also exclude the necessary legal endings such as Inc, Corporations, or LLC. This can make the name easier for customers to remember and easier to market.

While a trade name can also be a trademark, a DBA is not considered to be intellectual property. Additionally, a DBA will not change or affect how the business will be taxed. A DBA will allow customers to know who is behind the company and provide a brand association in customers minds.

DBAs also can be a valuable opportunity for both corporations and LLCs to be able to pursue multiple ventures and use separate identities for each. For partnerships and sole proprietorships, it can make it easier to open business banking.

Legal Business Name vs. DBA

The legal business name of a company is the name of either the person or the entity that has ownership of the company. Your business's legal name will be determined partially by the type of business structure that you form.

  • Sole proprietorships — When your business is registered as a sole proprietorship, the legal name of the company will be your name as this is considered a pass-through tax entity. In some states, you may be able to use your name in combination with the description of your type of work without filing for a DBA.
  • Partnerships — In a partnership, the legal name will be the name that is stated in the partnership agreement that is drafted. This will be similar to a sole proprietorship, but usually only uses the last name of the partners.
  • Corporations and LLCs — LLCs and corporations will choose their legal business name when they file their state business registration. These names will be required to have some form of designation at the end such as LLC or Corp. In some situations, you may still have to use your legal name even if you have filed a DBA.

How to File for a DBA

The way to file for a DBA may be different depending on the entity of the business. You will be required to file a DBA certificate that is in compliance with Section 130 of General Business Law if your business is a:

  • Limits liability company
  • Limited partnership
  • Corporation
  1. Decide on Your Name — Before you choose your name, you will have to search to see if the name is too similar to another business name that is registered in the state. You also will be unable to use certain words such as Incorporated, Limited, etc.
  2. Obtain a Certificate of Assumed Name — After determining your name, you will need to file a Certificate of Assumed Name which can often be obtained at the local County Clerk's Office.
  3. Fill out the DBA Form — You will need to use black ink or type the information into your application form. Forms are often available for pickup or download from your local Secretary of State's Office. While each jurisdiction will have its own requirements, you will need to include the legal name or your company, the company phone number, the chosen DBA name, the kind of business, and the type of business entity. Check for errors, have it notarized, and sign where necessary.
  4. Submit Your Form After you have checked your form for accuracy, you will need to send in the form along with a filing fee of $25 to your local county entity. Make sure you use a check for the fee or when you can, pay online. Never send cash for a filing fee.

Accuracy is important when filling out your DBA so it may be best to consult with an attorney when filing.

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