DBA stands for “Doing Business As” and refers to an alias or alternate name under which a company conducts business.

What is a DBA?

A DBA isn’t a separate legal entity.

It’s an official registration of a business name that differs from the legal name of the business entity.

Terminology: Depending on your state or locality, a DBA might be referred to as:

  • Assumed Name
  • Fictitious Business Name
  • Trade Name

Why Use a DBA?

  • Branding: It can be more marketable than the legal business name.
  • Privacy: Sole proprietors and partners can operate under a business name without having to reveal their names.
  • Compliance: Some states require a DBA if the business name doesn’t include the owners’ names or suggests additional services not mentioned in the company’s original charter.
  • Bank Requirements: Many banks require proof of a DBA registration to open a business account under the fictitious name.

How to Obtain a DBA:

  1. Name Search: Before registering, search your state’s business database to ensure your desired DBA isn’t already in use.
  2. Registration: This typically involves filling out a form with the business’s details and the desired DBA. The specific form and the agency you’ll file with vary by state.
  3. Fees: There’s usually a registration fee, which varies.
  4. Publication Requirements: Some states require you to publish a notice in a local newspaper about your new DBA.
  5. Renewal: DBAs don’t last indefinitely. Depending on the state, they might need renewal every 5-10 years.

Limitations of a DBA:

  • No Exclusive Rights: Registering a DBA doesn’t prevent another entity from using the same name. For exclusive rights, consider a trademark.  
  • No Legal Protection: The DBA doesn’t provide limited liability protection. That’s the domain of legal structures like LLCs or corporations.
  • Not a Business License: Acquiring a DBA doesn’t replace the need for necessary licenses or permits.

Key Considerations about DBAs:

  • Location-Specific: Each state has its regulations regarding DBAs, so always check local rules.
  • Multiple DBAs: A single business can have multiple DBAs.
  • Changes: If your business information changes (like an address), update your DBA registration.

While a DBA doesn’t offer legal protection or exclusive rights to a name, it’s an essential tool for branding, compliance, and flexibility in business naming. 

Always ensure you’re meeting local requirements and keep your registration updated.

Contact our firm if you need assistance with your foreign LLC registration.