If you are conducting business using a DBA, which is short for "doing business as" and sometimes called a fictitious business name, and want and you want to use the DBA as a name for an LLC, you can do this by following the LLC naming laws in your state. Each state has its own LLC laws and state agency charged with overseeing compliance with these laws, usually the secretary of state. Although variations exist between state LLC laws, forming an LLC using your DBA name will require determining the name’s availability and filing the required document that starts the LLC’s existence.
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Find the state agency that oversees the formation of business entities in the state where your business’s principal offices are located. A useful search tool is available on the website Business.gov, which is the federal government's official website for small businesses. The site has links for the state agencies throughout the country that will help you find the agency in your state that oversees business filings (see Resources).
Locate the naming requirements for an LLC in your state. A good source for this information is the website for state agency overseeing the formation of LLCs. State agencies that provide a pre-printed form to use when forming an LLC will have instructions included with the form that specify the naming requirements. There are typically two basic requirements: the LLC name must include the words "limited liability company" or end in the abbreviation "LLC" or something similar; it must also be distinguishable from other business names on file with the state. The naming requirements can also be found in the each state’s LLC statutes.
Check the state records to determine if your DBA name is available for use as an LLC name. Using the state agency’s website, you can check the name online or by contacting the state agency by mail or phone as directed on the site. If the name is available, you will most likely have the option to reserve the name so that it is still available when you submit your LLC formation documents.
Locate the information from your state agency regarding formation of an LLC. The agency’s website usually provides a pre-printed form in a format available for downloading, completing and filing. Complete the form using the DBA name you verified was available for use. File the document according to the instructions provided by the state agency. Once the form is accepted for filing, your DBA name will be converted to your LLC’s name.
Tips & Warnings
You may find that your DBA is in use as the name of a corporation, limited partnership or other LLC. If you want to use the name for your LLC, you will have to negotiate with the other company for its use. Before contacting the company, review its records on file with the secretary of state to determine if the company is still in good standing. If it is under suspension -- meaning that it cannot lawfully conduct business -- you should have an easier time obtaining the name. A state form is usually available for filing a consent or release so you can use the name.
References & Resources
- Nevada Secretary of State: Articles of Organization
- Oklahoma Secretary of State: Articles of Organization
- California Secretary of State: Name Availability
- Nevada Secretary of State: Business Entity Search
- Oklahoma Secretary of State: Application for Reservation of Name
- Nevada Secretary of State: Name Consent or Release
- Business.gov: State and Local Resources
- Wipp Law Firm PLLC: State LLC Laws -- Links to all 50 States LLC Statutes