How to File a DBA on Your Own in Iowa

By Bryan Driscoll, J.D.

How to File a DBA on Your Own in Iowa

By Bryan Driscoll, J.D.

Operating your company under a title other than your legal one is known as a DBA, or "doing business as." In Iowa, this is called a fictitious or trade name. It is completely legal, provided that you follow certain steps laid out by the state. It's important to note that it will provide no legal protection other than putting the public on notice.

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There are many reasons to have one. Maybe you're a sole proprietor and you don't want to operate under your legal name. Maybe you've been in the industry for a long time but people know you by a shortened version of it. Using a DBA would allow you to operate legally under the designation people know you by.

Iowa Requirements

Unless you are a sole proprietor, Iowa requires that you file articles of incorporation to form your company. Once this is complete, you can apply. Any entity that wants to operate under a name other than what is listed on their articles of incorporation must file a DBA. The state requires this so you can open bank accounts, advertise, and generally operate under that designation.

While this may seem cumbersome, it is beneficial to you. When you file your articles of incorporation, you may think you have come up with a great title or tag. However, as you conduct business, people and customers refer to you by a different name or a slang version of your current one. To avoid confusion with any other companies, you can file this using the title that customers use.

Fictitious and Trade Names

Fictitious names in Iowa are used statewide. You complete this form by identifying your relationship with the business and the assumed designation you wish to use. Once complete, you file the form (electronically, by mail, or in person) along with the applicable filing fee to the Iowa Secretary of State. It then becomes public record and you can use the new name.

Trade names are only filed in the Iowa county where your entity is physically located. Like a DBA form, you must list the name you wish to use for your company. This can be a title you come up with or one your customers already use. The form must also be notarized before submitting it.

Both forms put the public on notice that you are using a different designation to conduct business. But, under no circumstances can your DBA mislead customers or imply illegal activities. Doing so could put you and your company in legal peril and subject to fines and penalties from the state.

Using a DBA in Iowa is a great way to make sure your customers know your brand. But making sure you follow these steps to properly file it is imperative to avoiding costly mistakes. Handling your own filing in Iowa is possible with the right eye for detail. Any missed forms or inaccurate information can not only delay your filing and your ability to conduct business under your DBA, but it can also create unnecessary and added expenses.

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.