How to Establish a DBA

By Michael Keenan

A DBA, or "doing business as," is a name you use for your business besides your real name. DBAs are also known as fictitious names or trade names in some states. For example, if you want to call your business "Glamorous Ghost Writers," you have to register that name before you may use it for business. A DBA allows you to have a more descriptive name for your business than just "Jane Doe" or "Kevin Smart, Inc." Even in states where registration is not necessary, you often receive additional protection against others using the same name if you register with the state.

A DBA, or "doing business as," is a name you use for your business besides your real name. DBAs are also known as fictitious names or trade names in some states. For example, if you want to call your business "Glamorous Ghost Writers," you have to register that name before you may use it for business. A DBA allows you to have a more descriptive name for your business than just "Jane Doe" or "Kevin Smart, Inc." Even in states where registration is not necessary, you often receive additional protection against others using the same name if you register with the state.

Step 1

Research the procedure for registering a DBA in your state. Many states require you to register your DBA with either a division of the secretary of state's office, such as the division of corporations, or with a clerk of the court.

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Step 2

Select a DBA that is not already in use. Most states have an online, searchable database of the names already registered. In addition, make sure your name doesn't end in a corporation or LLC suffix, such as "Big Corp.," "Landing Pad, Inc." or "Flying High, LLC."

Step 3

Complete the DBA registration form. This form usually requires the business owners' names and addresses, business's purpose, business's address, and its registered agent's name and address. Some states may also require you to have the form notarized.

Step 4

Submit the registration form to the appropriate governing body. In some states, this is the secretary of state, while in others, it might be the local clerk of the court. Generally, you must pay a fee when registering your DBA, which varies from state to state.

Step 5

Publish notice of your new DBA in a publication of general circulation, if required by your state. For example, California requires that within 30 days of filing, you must publish a statement in a newspaper in the county where you have your principal place of business once a week for four weeks.

Step 6

Register the DBA in every locality where you will use the name, if required by your state. For example, Virginia requires you to register your name in each county you will do business.

File a DBA for your business online. Get Started Now
Setting Up a DBA in Massachusetts

References

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How to Add a DBA to an S-Corp

A DBA is an acronym for “doing business as," and can be used by any business owner, including an S Corporation, to distinguish the business’s products and services from its competitors. Any type of trade name, fictitious name or assumed name used for a business is generally referred to as a DBA. To add a DBA to your S-Corp, you must follow the requirements of the state law where your S-Corp was formed. Most states require registration of a DBA with a government agency, with some states further requiring publication of the DBA in an approved newspaper.

Legal Use of DBA for Independent Contractors

Independent contractors are self-employed workers who provide services to others on their own terms. An independent contractor may be a sole proprietor or the sole owner of a limited liability company, corporation or other type of business. Although independent contractors typically work alone, they are still businesspersons who must exhibit a professional image, just like a company with multiple employees. A "doing business as" name, known as a DBA, is one way to project professionalism while reaping the benefits of self-employment.

How to Register a Trade Name in Massachusetts

If you want to do business under any name besides your legal given name, you need to use a trade name, also known as a "doing business as," or DBA, name. For example, if you want to call your delivery service "Mere Minutes," you have to register that name. In Massachusetts, the state doesn't handle the registrations of business names for unincorporated businesses. Instead, you must register the name in each city or town where you will do business to receive a "doing business as" certificate, which is renewable. Be sure to note the expiration date of the certificate and renew as indicated.

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