Cancelling a DBA

by Anna Assad

A "doing business as" name, also known as a trade name and a fictitious business name, is the name under which a business operates that may be different from its original, official name. A company may use DBAs to conduct business under a different name for various reasons. For example, a foreign company may use a DBA in a specific location because its creation name is being used by another business in the same area. When a business no longer needs its DBA name, it can cancel the name registration with the local government agency that handles DBA registrations.

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A business registers a DBA by filing an application or statement with the state or county agency responsible for the geographic area in which the business will operate under that name. The registration process permits the business to use the DBA name in the locale where the application is filed and also may prevent another business from using the same name in that location. Some states, such as Alabama and Arizona, don't require formal DBA registration, but do allow businesses to register DBA names. South Carolina allows only foreign businesses to file a DBA.


Cancellation procedures vary by state. In Utah, for example, to cancel a DBA, a business operator must write a cancellation letter and send it to the state corporation department. Other states have specific DNA cancellation forms for businesses to use. A DBA automatically lapses at the end of the registration term if the business does not renew the registration. Registration terms vary by state; a business in Minnesota must renew a DBA once a year, but a Florida business is only required to renew the registration every five years.


Some states allow a business owner to transfer a DBA name from one business to another without first cancelling the active DBA registration. Transferring a DBA name prevents another unrelated company from registering the same name before the original name owner's new DBA application is approved. In Utah, the owner of the business with the original DBA can attach a letter to the new DBA application asking for a transfer of the same DBA name for the new business.


Some states require the cancellation of a DBA once the business that owns the name undergoes a change in ownership or is no longer operating. Depending on the state, a business may have to file a DBA application in each county in which the business will use the DBA name. If the business has filed a DBA in multiple counties, it must also cancel the DBA in each of those counties.