How Do I Extend My DBA?

By Joe Stone

A business owner using a fictitious name, trade name or assumed name -- commonly called “doing business as” or DBA -- must register it with a government office in most states, either at the state or county level. Because your customers and the general public will associate your DBA with your products or services, it is important to properly maintain your DBA by extending or renewing it as required by law. If you fail to properly maintain your DBA, you run the risk of another business or person registering it, which will prevent you from using it.

A business owner using a fictitious name, trade name or assumed name -- commonly called “doing business as” or DBA -- must register it with a government office in most states, either at the state or county level. Because your customers and the general public will associate your DBA with your products or services, it is important to properly maintain your DBA by extending or renewing it as required by law. If you fail to properly maintain your DBA, you run the risk of another business or person registering it, which will prevent you from using it.

Duration of Your DBA

State laws regarding the duration of a DBA vary significantly. In most states, it will expire five years after it was originally registered, such as in Vermont and California. A few states, such as Texas, allow DBAs to be effective for 10 years. Under Colorado law, a DBA's duration depends on the type of business -- a sole proprietorship DBA filing lasts one year, while corporate DBA filings last as long as the corporation is in good standing. In Nevada, state law gives each county the discretion whether to limit the duration of a DBA filing to five years.

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Renewing Your DBA Before It Expires

The renewal procedures regarding a DBA likewise vary from state to state, which makes it imperative to consult your state law about renewal procedures when you first file. Some states, such as California, require filing a renewal before the expiration date, while other states, like Vermont, give you a period of time after the expiration date to file for renewal. Failing to renew on time can result in a higher costs to keep your DBA, such as in California, where initial filings require publication of the DBA and renewals do not. If you do not renew your DBA on time in California, you will have file it as a new registration and incur the publication costs again.

Changes in Your Business Ownership or Structure

The primary purpose of a DBA is to give public notice regarding the identity of the owners using the DBA. States with mandatory DBA registration also require you to amend or refile your DBA when a change in your business ownership occurs, such as taking on a new partner, or a change in your business structure, such as incorporating. The deadline to refile varies by state. For example, Texas law requires a new DBA filing within 60 days of the change and Nevada law requires a new filing within one month.

Extending the Locations for Your DBA

In states where you register your DBA with a state agency, such as the secretary of state's office, you DBA is effective throughout the state. However, most states require registration of DBAs with the county clerk or recorder office. In these states, your DBA is effective only in the county where it is registered. To extend the effectiveness of your DBA in these states, you must register your DBA in all counties where you do business.

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How to Close a DBA

References

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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 Establish a DBA

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.

Differences Between LLC & DBA

LLC and DBA are two acronyms commonly used to indicate important legal aspects about a business. LLC, or limited liability company, refers to a separate legal entity that is distinguishable from its owners. DBA, or doing business as, refers to a pseudonym that an owner uses to conduct business. It is important to understand the difference between the two when planning to use either as part of your business structure.

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