How Do I Convert a DBA to LLC?

By Stephanie Kurose, J.D.

How Do I Convert a DBA to LLC?

By Stephanie Kurose, J.D.

When a company conducts business under a DBA name (also known as a "doing business as" name) it means the company is using a fictitious business name as an alternative to its original legal business name. Any type of business entity can use a DBA, including a sole proprietor, a partnership, a corporation, or an LLC. If a person wants to convert their DBA to an LLC, or limited liability company, they must follow the requirements of their state. The exact process will depend on what type of business entity wants to convert to an LLC.

Businessman talking on phone and writing in notebook

Because state law governs LLCs, the specific procedures for creating an LLC vary from state to state. However, most (if not all) states require the desired name not to be already in use.

1. Find the relevant state agency.

To figure out what your state's requirements are for converting a DBA to an LLC, you must find the agency that governs businesses in your state. A helpful resource is the federal government's official website for small businesses. This site will allow you to find the proper agency in your state.

2. Find the state's naming requirements.

Once you have found the relevant state agency, look for the rules and procedures governing LLC names. There are generally two requirements that the name of an LLC must meet:

  • It must include an appropriately identifying term at the end. An identifying term for an LLC is "LLC," "Limited Co.," "Ltd.," or any similar approved terms. Contrarily, words that might mislead the public as to the nature of the business—such as "bank," "attorney," or "university"—are prohibited.
  • The name must not be the same as, or substantially similar to, the name of another business. If you want to convert your DBA into an LLC, the name must be distinguishable from other businesses registered in the state. Unfortunately, if the desired name is already in use, the state will prohibit you from using that particular name.

Typically, the state provides a form you'll fill out to create an LLC, and this form also specifies the naming requirements. If your state does not provide such a form, you can find the naming requirements in the state statute governing LLCs.

3. Determine whether the desired name is available.

If you want the state to accept your application, your desired LLC name must be available. You can search the state's business registration database or contact the state agency itself. If the name is already in use, you will have to modify it enough to be distinguishable. If the name is available, the state will allow you to reserve it for a period of time until you submit the required LLC formation documents.

4. Complete the required formation documents.

The final step in converting your DBA to an LLC is to complete all of the required documents and submit them to the correct state agency, typically the Secretary of State. Most states provide a preprinted form that you can easily download, fill out, and submit electronically.

Complete the required forms using the DBA name that you determined was available. Once the state agency receives, processes, and accepts your application, the DBA name will convert to an LLC. If you are no longer going to use the DBA name, you may need to file a DBA abandonment form.

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.