Operating your business as a sole proprietorship in Texas is the easiest and least expensive form of business structure you can choose. Unlike a limited liability company or corporation, you do not have to file any documents to create your business as a separate legal entity from yourself. Also, so long as the business is operated under your name, Texas law does not require you to obtain a DBA -- short for "doing business as" -- which is referred to as an "assumed name" in Texas.
Assumed Name Basics
Texas assumed name law only applies to the name of your sole proprietor business in two situations: the name does not include your surname or suggest the existence of other owners by including such words as “Company,” “& Company,” “& Associates” or similar words. If either of these situations apply, you are required to file an assumed name certificate with the county clerk's office where your principal place of business is located. If you do not have a physical business location, you must file a certificate in each county where you conduct business. The purpose underlying the certificate requirement is to notify the public of the identities of the owner or owners using the assumed name.
Filing an Assumed Name Certificate
Each Texas county has its own form of Assumed Name Certificate that must be used for filing. As a sole proprietor, you complete the form by providing the assumed name for your business, its principal address (if any), and your name and address. Your signature on the form must be notarized, which can usually be done at the county clerk's office where you file it. Before you file the certificate, it is advisable to review the county clerk's records to determine if there is a certificate on file with the same assumed name being used by another business.
Amending and Renewing
Texas assumed name law requires you to file a new assumed name certificate if there is a material change in the information in the certificate, such as a change in your location or taking on a new partner for the business. The new certificate must be filed within 60 days of the change occurring. An assumed name certificate is valid for 10 years, after which it expires, unless it is renewed. The renewal period begins six months before the expiration date.
Failing to comply with Texas assumed name law can result in the imposition of both civil and criminal penalties. In a pending civil lawsuit, you can be prohibited from either pursuing a claim or defending yourself against a claim if you operated your business under an assumed name without having filed the appropriate certificate. If you continue to operate your business under the assumed name and intentionally fail to file the certificate, you can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. Anyone who files an assumed name certificate with knowingly false information or a forged signature can be charged with tampering with a government record, which is also a Class A misdemeanor.