How to Add a DBA to an S-Corp

By Joe Stone

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.

Step 1

Review the requirements for registering a DBA in the state where your S-Corp was formed. For most states, this information is available from the Secretary of State's office or county clerk's office. The U.S. Small Business Administration's website provides links to state agencies providing DBA filing requirements.

Step 2

Choose a DBA name that is suitable for registration by searching an available DBA name database. For example, the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk's office and Florida Department of State provide online search engines to review their existing DBA records to determine if a name is available. Also choose a name that does not violate DBA naming rules that typically prohibit using such words as "corporation," "incorporated," and "limited," or abbreviations of such words, as part of a DBA name.

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Step 3

Prepare the appropriate DBA registration form provided by your state or local government agency where the DBA is filed. In addition to the DBA name, the information required to complete the form will include the name and address of your S-Corp, as well as a brief description of the business activities associated with the DBA.

Step 4

File the completed form with the required governmental agency, such as the secretary of state, county clerk or, in a few states, the county court. All states charge a fee for filing the form, with the current amount typically printed on the form.

Step 5

Publish a notice regarding the filing of the DBA according to the requirements of your state. For example, California law requires that a DBA filing be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the county where the business is located. The notice must be published for four consecutive weeks -- at least one time a week.

Step 6

Repeat the DBA filing process in every locality where your S-Corp will use the DBA, if your state requires local registration, such as with a city or county agency.

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How to Fill Out DBA Forms

DBA is short for "doing business as." Sole proprietors and even larger companies may elect to operate under DBAs or fictitious names for a variety of reasons. DBA registration forms are filed with the County Clerk or Secretary of State for the state in which a business is located. Because the filing procedure is different in every area, the requirements for filling out DBA forms vary, although most forms require similar information and can be filled out in a matter of minutes.

Rules and Regulations for a Sole Proprietorship

Starting your new business as a sole proprietorship is the easiest and least expensive legal business structure you can use, as opposed to forming a corporation or limited liability company. As a sole proprietor, you are the sole owner of your business and generally have the flexibility to operate your business as you see fit, subject to the rules and regulations that apply to similar businesses in your state and local area.

Can an LLC File a DBA & Still Do Business Under the LLC Name?

An LLC, or limited liability company, is a legal entity that has its own rights and obligations separate from its owners; conversely, a DBA is not a legal entity, and whoever uses a DBA assumes all of the obligations of the business. An LLC and DBA can be used in conjunction with one another, but care must be taken to use them properly so as to avoid personal liability where none was intended.

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