How to Add a DBA to an S-Corp

By Joe Stone

A DBA is an acronym for “doing business as," and can be used by any business owner, including an S Corporation, to distinguish the business’s products and services from its competitors. Any type of trade name, fictitious name or assumed name used for a business is generally referred to as a DBA. To add a DBA to your S-Corp, you must follow the requirements of the state law where your S-Corp was formed. Most states require registration of a DBA with a government agency, with some states further requiring publication of the DBA in an approved newspaper.

A DBA is an acronym for “doing business as," and can be used by any business owner, including an S Corporation, to distinguish the business’s products and services from its competitors. Any type of trade name, fictitious name or assumed name used for a business is generally referred to as a DBA. To add a DBA to your S-Corp, you must follow the requirements of the state law where your S-Corp was formed. Most states require registration of a DBA with a government agency, with some states further requiring publication of the DBA in an approved newspaper.

Step 1

Review the requirements for registering a DBA in the state where your S-Corp was formed. For most states, this information is available from the Secretary of State's office or county clerk's office. The U.S. Small Business Administration's website provides links to state agencies providing DBA filing requirements.

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Step 2

Choose a DBA name that is suitable for registration by searching an available DBA name database. For example, the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk's office and Florida Department of State provide online search engines to review their existing DBA records to determine if a name is available. Also choose a name that does not violate DBA naming rules that typically prohibit using such words as "corporation," "incorporated," and "limited," or abbreviations of such words, as part of a DBA name.

Step 3

Prepare the appropriate DBA registration form provided by your state or local government agency where the DBA is filed. In addition to the DBA name, the information required to complete the form will include the name and address of your S-Corp, as well as a brief description of the business activities associated with the DBA.

Step 4

File the completed form with the required governmental agency, such as the secretary of state, county clerk or, in a few states, the county court. All states charge a fee for filing the form, with the current amount typically printed on the form.

Step 5

Publish a notice regarding the filing of the DBA according to the requirements of your state. For example, California law requires that a DBA filing be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the county where the business is located. The notice must be published for four consecutive weeks -- at least one time a week.

Step 6

Repeat the DBA filing process in every locality where your S-Corp will use the DBA, if your state requires local registration, such as with a city or county agency.

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How to Establish a DBA

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What Does DBA Mean in Business?

In the business world, DBA - which stands for "doing business as" - is a vitally important acronym to know. It signifies that an individual or company is doing business under a fictitious name. One common example would be a chain store franchise, operated under a commercial name familiar to everyone but actually run by an individual or firm owning the local franchise. State laws govern the creation and use of DBA fictitious names.

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When you conduct business under a name different than your own, you are using a DBA which is short for "doing business as." Each state has its own DBA laws, some of which refer to a DBA as a fictitious business name, assumed name or trade name. The purpose for using a DBA is to have your customers identify your product and services with your unique business name. When you no longer use your DBA, you should take appropriate steps to cancel any active registration for the DBA.

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