A DBA, short for "doing business as," refers to the name a company or individual uses when it operates under a different name than its legally registered name. Most states require you to register your DBA with either your county clerk’s office or with your state government, depending on where you're doing business. DBAs are also called "assumed names," "trade names," or "fictitious names."
When You Need a DBA
Sole proprietors need to register a DBA when using any name besides their given names. For example, if your name is Kevin Johnson and you want to open "Johnson's Donuts," you would need to register that fictitious business name. Legally registered entities, like limited liability companies and corporations, must register a DBA when using any name besides the official name in their registration documents. For example, if you register a corporation as "Michael's Holding Companies, Inc." and then decide to open a store called "Michael's Pet Store," you must register the latter name as a DBA.