How do I Convert a DBA to LLC?

By Joe Stone

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.

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.

Step 1

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).

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Step 2

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.

Step 3

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.

Step 4

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.

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How to Add a DBA to an S-Corp

References

Resources

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How to Change From a DBA to an LLC

Any type of business can use a DBA, or "doing business as," designation as long as the proper paperwork is filed with the state where the business is operating. However, if the business is only using a DBA, it is most likely operating as a sole proprietorship. A sole proprietor must file articles of organization with the state to covert the business into a limited liability company, or LLC, and inform the state that the DBA registration is to be transferred to the new company.

How to Check for DBA (Doing Business As) Names

Business owners who use a name other than their own name are using a DBA, which is short for “doing business as” and also referred to as a trade name, assumed name or fictitious business name. A DBA is desirable when you want a name for your business that more readily identifies your products or services. Using a DBA is also the easiest and least expensive way for you to establish a name for your business. Before using a DBA, you should check available sources to determine whether another business is using the same DBA.

How to Set Up a Sole Proprietorship Using a DBA

A sole proprietorship functions as an alter ego of its owner. State law requires you to operate the business under your own name, so the public knows who to hold responsible for business activity. For example, a personal trainer named John Smith must have his customers pay him by writing a check to “John Smith.” He cannot call his sole proprietorship “In Shape Personal Training” and operate under that name unless he registers the name with the state as a fictitious business name, also known as a “doing business as” (DBA). Most states process DBAs at the county level, so the name registration is only good in that one county. A few states, like Florida, process DBAs at the statewide level, which entitles the owner to use the name anywhere in the state.

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