How to Add a DBA to an S Corp.

By Brette Sember, J.D.

How to Add a DBA to an S Corp.

By Brette Sember, J.D.

Any time a person or a business conducts business under a name that is not legally theirs, it's necessary to file for a DBA ("doing business as") so that there is a legal record of who or what is using that name. An S corp. needs a DBA any time it does business under a name other than the name legally registered to it.

Brunette woman on phone while looking at laptop

A DBA is filed with the state where business is being done. Most states require filing a DBA with a government agency, and some require publication of the DBA in an approved newspaper as well, to provide legal notice.

Registration for a DBA can differ somewhat from state to state, but here is the general process you will follow.

Step 1: Determine the registration requirements.

First, you'll need to determine whether the state requires DBA registration, and if it does, what agency to register with. You can find this information on the Secretary of State's website or through your county clerk's office. In some states, you can register the DBA for the entire state, and in other states you must register by county.

Step 2: Search to see that your name is not already in use.

Two businesses cannot be doing business in the same region under the same DBA. To make sure that the name you want is not already registered to someone else, you'll need to do a search of DBA names in your state or county. There may be a search function on your state agency's site that allows you to check your chosen name against names already registered, or you may be able to request a search.

Step 3: Ensure that your name follows the rules.

Make sure you don't include words in your name that violate DBA naming rules. For example, you generally cannot include words like "corporation," "incorporated," or "limited," since those would give the impression that the business is incorporated or is an LLC. You also cannot use abbreviations of these words such as "corp."

Step 4: Complete the DBA registration form required by your state or county, and file it.

The form you fill out will depend on whether you are registering statewide or through a county or counties. You will need to include the name and address of your S corp. as the entity doing business under this name. You will also need to provide a short description of the type of business your S corp. will be doing under this name.

File the form with the agency according to the instructions you receive. You will need to pay a filing fee to submit the form.

Step 5: Publish an announcement, if required to.

If your state or county requires it, publish an announcement of the use of the name in the newspaper required (generally, there will be a specific paper or papers named as meeting the requirements). There will be specific wording you must use, as well as requirements for how many times the notice must appear.

Step 6: Repeat in different locales, as needed.

If your S corp. will be using the DBA in other counties or states, you will need to follow the procedures in each location to legally use the name in those localities.

A word on profits and losses

Profits and losses of the DBA are reported through the S corp. You do not need to obtain a separate EIN or to file separate taxes for the DBA. It is considered part of the S corp.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.