How to Register a DBA Name So No One Else Can Use It

By Maggie Lourdes

Companies and individuals can operate under fictitious, or assumed, names called DBAs. DBA stands for "doing business as" -- and state laws regarding DBAs vary. It is a misdemeanor crime in Missouri and Michigan to conduct business using an unregistered DBA. Other states, such as Tennessee, do not always require you to register assumed names.

Companies and individuals can operate under fictitious, or assumed, names called DBAs. DBA stands for "doing business as" -- and state laws regarding DBAs vary. It is a misdemeanor crime in Missouri and Michigan to conduct business using an unregistered DBA. Other states, such as Tennessee, do not always require you to register assumed names.

DBAs

Sole proprietors operating under business names that differ from their own legal names must generally register their DBAs. Businesses entities, such as corporations, must also generally register DBAs. State law determines if you must register assumed names at your state corporation division or with your county clerk's office. Generally, you may submit a DBA application in person, by mail or online.

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Application Requirements

DBA applications require your legal name or your company's name and business address. You must state your proposed DBA, or fictitious name, and generally, the application must be notarized. You typically cannot obtain a DBA in your county or state if another person or company has already registered it. You can determine name availability before submitting a DBA application by calling or visiting your appropriate government agency. Many government offices also offer free, name-availability searches on their official websites.

File a DBA for your business online. Get Started Now
Define DBA

References

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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.

What Is on a DBA Filing?

If you wish to operate a business under a name other than your own, you must register that name with the state agency that handles business filings -- in many states, this is the office of the Secretary of State. You must clear the name by researching similar names already in use and then file a short application that includes basic information about your business.

What Does DBA Mean in Business?

In the business world, DBA - which stands for "doing business as" - is a vitally important acronym to know. It signifies that an individual or company is doing business under a fictitious name. One common example would be a chain store franchise, operated under a commercial name familiar to everyone but actually run by an individual or firm owning the local franchise. State laws govern the creation and use of DBA fictitious names.

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