1. What Is the Purpose of a DBA?
2. Why Should You Get a DBA for Your Business?
3. The Benefits of a DBA
4. When to File a DBA
5. What Are the Reasons to Form a DBA?
6. Steps in Setting up a DBA

Where can I get a DBA? A DBA stands for “doing business as." It allows a company or an individual to do business under a fictitious or an assumed name. It is not your personal name.

What Is the Purpose of a DBA?

A DBA protects buyers from business fraud. It has two main purposes:

  • It notifies consumers who is doing business under a different name.
  • It is a claim of ownership or assertion of intellectual property rights under the assumed name.

Understanding why your business needs a DBA and knowing the steps involved in getting one will help you avoid penalties and other legal repercussions.

Why Should You Get a DBA for Your Business?

  • Operate and receive payments under your business name: In most states, you need a DBA to open bank accounts as well as accept payments and checks under your business name.
  • Conveniently separate your lines of business: For corporations and LLCs with different products and services, a DBA will allow them to operate under different names that accurately represent subsets of the business.
  • Enhance credibility: When you operate under an assumed business name with a DBA, you improve your legitimacy to your suppliers and customers, and gain a competitive edge over your competitors.

The Benefits of a DBA

Some of the main benefits of a DBA include:

  • It keeps you in compliance with the state's laws.
  • If you are a sole proprietor, a DBA lets you use a different business name without creating another legal entity.
  • It offers a cheaper way to conduct business under different names.
  • For corporations and LLCs, a DBA allows them to operate multiple businesses under different names without creating separate formal entities for each business.

When to File a DBA

In most states, a person is required by law to file a DBA when he/she intends on doing business with a different name. Other than that, you can only do business in your name, corporation, or LLC.

What Are the Reasons to Form a DBA?

  • You can file for a DBA under the following circumstances:
  • If you do not want to transact business under your personal name, you can file for a DBA.
  • Partners in general partnerships and sole proprietors require DBAs to open business bank accounts.
  • As an LLC or corporation, you may need to expand to a new business line that's not covered by your existing business name.
  • For instance, a company that sells women's handbags also sells teen's handbag. Knowing that the two consumer groups would never buy from the same website or company, you can file a DBA and get separate names to appeal to each audience.
  • As a sole proprietor, your personal name and business name are the same. Therefore, you may want to file for a DBA to differentiate the two.
  • In general partnerships, the partners' names and the business name are the same. A DBA will differentiate the two separate entities.
  • Some prospective clients may need to see a DBA before contracting and awarding you jobs.
  • For instance, a freelance graphic designer can use a DBA to bid for work at a local corporation. But in most cases, they will be required to form an LLC or incorporate their business.
  • If your company is entering in a new line of business that is not well-represented by your existing name, you may need a DBA.
  • A more descriptive business name could be beneficial for your business. For example, your business – Summer Sprinkler Systems Inc. – would like to offer snowplow services during the winter. It'll only be right to get a business name that is more relevant to that line of business such as Snow Plowing Specialists.

Steps in Setting up a DBA

First things first, you need to choose a business. The Small Business Administration (SBA) offers specific instructions for different states around the country.

There are little restrictions when it comes to selecting trade names, however, most states will prohibit choosing names that are somehow similar to already existing companies. Furthermore, you may want to avoid business names that may confuse consumers about your product or service.

Once you have come up with a name for your business, visit the county clerk's office for your DBA form, or print one online.

To file a DBA, you need to fill out the form for your assumed business request, then submit it with the filing fee. In some states, you'll have to publish a notice in the local newspapers to alert your customers about the change of names.

If you need help with your 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.