Consequences for Not Filing a DBA

By Jim Thomas

DBA is short for "doing business as." It's a fictitious name you give to your business when you register it with the state or county, depending on the law in the state where you reside. For example, if your name is John Jones and you are opening a pizza parlor called JJ's Pizza, you are required in most states to register JJ's Pizza as your DBA name. As the Small Business Administration website states, a DBA name is also known as a fictitious name, assumed name or trade name. Although some states, such as Alabama, don't require you to file a DBA name, you have the right to do so. And it's a good idea to do so, since you can run into a heap of potential problems by not registering your DBA name.

DBA is short for "doing business as." It's a fictitious name you give to your business when you register it with the state or county, depending on the law in the state where you reside. For example, if your name is John Jones and you are opening a pizza parlor called JJ's Pizza, you are required in most states to register JJ's Pizza as your DBA name. As the Small Business Administration website states, a DBA name is also known as a fictitious name, assumed name or trade name. Although some states, such as Alabama, don't require you to file a DBA name, you have the right to do so. And it's a good idea to do so, since you can run into a heap of potential problems by not registering your DBA name.

Enforcing Contracts

If you don't obtain a DBA, you can't enforce any contract that you sign under your unregistered business name. For example, if you order office furniture and computers from a supplier who takes your money and doesn't deliver the goods, you can't sue to get your money back, at least not until the time you register your DBA. In Pennsylvania, the court has the power to fine you $500, although the fine is not automatic, if you register your DBA after you have already gone into business and then come to court to enforce your contractual rights.

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Shut Down of Business

In a number of states, you can suffer harsh penalties for not registering a trade name. Colorado has the authority to assess monetary penalties and even bring an injunction to prevent you from conducting business. In New Hampshire, you can't conduct business or even advertise your business until you obtain a DBA name.

Misdemeanor

In Missouri, you are required to file your DBA with the secretary of state's office. Failure to do so is a misdemeanor and you can be charged by the local prosecutor. Penalties for misdemeanors run as much as $1,000 in Missouri. In addition, a misdemeanor charge on your record might harm your ability to raise money or attract partners to your business.

Bank Accounts

When you start a new business, you'll want to open a bank account for that business that is separate from your personal account. However, many banks will refuse to open an account using your business name without proof you have registered it. You'll need a copy of your DBA registration to establish proof.

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How to Register a Trade Name in New Jersey

References

Related articles

Advantages & Disadvantages of Filing for a Fictitious Business Name

The name you use to conduct business can greatly affect the success of your endeavor. While you're required by state laws to use your business' legal name, you're also allowed to register a business alias -- called a fictitious business name -- to help establish awareness in the marketplace, distinguish a brand or for any other reason. The pros and cons of registering a fictitious business name depend on your circumstances and the legal structure of your venture.

What Can You Do When a Business Takes Your Business Name in the Same Town?

Your business name is an asset that distinguishes your company's goods and services in the marketplace. Protecting your right to use a business name is as important as delivering a good product to your customers. State laws protect business names that are properly registered against subsequent users because name duplication can confuse and mislead the public. If you've trademarked your business name under state or federal laws, you have additional protection against misuse.

Virginia DBA Regulations

A DBA name is a name that an individual or a business uses to conduct business in the state, unless you are doing business under your own legal name or exact corporate name, according to the State Corporation Commission in Virginia. So If your name is Rick Reilly and you are opening a shoe store named Rick's Shoes, you must file for a DBA in the county where your store is before you can start selling sneakers. DBA is short for "Doing Business As." A DBA name is also known as a fictitious name, assumed name or trade name. Sometimes it is called a t/a, short for "trading as," or an aka, short for "also known as."

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