How Long Is a DBA Registration Good for?

By Michelle Kaminsky, J.D.

How Long Is a DBA Registration Good for?

By Michelle Kaminsky, J.D.

If you want to use a name other than your business's legally registered name, you will need to apply for a DBA (“doing business as"), which may also be called a fictitious business name (FBN), a trade name, or an assumed name. States that require registration of a DBA generally allow you to use it as long as you like, but most require you to renew the registration every few years.

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State DBA Laws

State laws vary regarding DBAs, but when a jurisdiction requires registration of a DBA, consumer protection is the goal.

For example, if you wanted to open a restaurant and you were able to use the same name as the restaurant down the block, customers would be confused as to whether the businesses were related or not. DBA registration helps eliminate some of those problems, and the requirement to renew your registration enables the state keep track of whether the name is still in use.

DBA Registration Requirements

Although state laws vary, procedures for registering a DBA have many similarities across jurisdictions. Getting a DBA generally requires filing a short application form and paying a fee to your state or county government.

In California, for example, you need to file the registration documents with the county clerk in the county where you operate the business and intend on using the DBA. Texas, on the other hand, requires registration with the Secretary of State as well as with your local county clerk.

In New York, it depends on the type of business entity that's applying for the DBA. Corporations, limited partnerships, and LLCs register their DBAs with the Secretary of State's office, whereas other types of entities, including sole proprietors, register at the clerk's office in every county in which they conduct or transact business.

Some states also require that you publish a notice in the local newspaper about your DBA.

Renewing your DBA registration typically requires a similar procedure as filling out the initial application and paying a fee, though generally publication is not required again.

When to Renew Your DBA

When you register your DBA, you should also find out when it will expire. For example, if you register in California, you'll need to renew the DBA after five years. If registering in Texas, you can use the DBA for 10 years, and in New York, no renewal is necessary as there is no expiration date.

As long as you stay on top of your DBA's expiration date, you can continue to renew it as long as you like. In many cases, the DBA will be good for as long as you run your business.

Other Considerations

Registering a DBA typically gives you the right to use the trade name during the current registration period, and according to your jurisdiction's laws. For example, if you registered at the county level, usually this ensures that no one else in the county can use that name, but laws vary. You also are not allowed to use a DBA exclusively throughout the country.

Getting a DBA doesn't necessarily give you any rights to its future use, especially if you let it expire. If your DBA expires, another business is usually free to register the same name, which means you run the risk of having to change your business name, even if you've been using it for years.

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.