How to Transfer a DBA to Another Person

By Stephanie Kurose, J.D.

How to Transfer a DBA to Another Person

By Stephanie Kurose, J.D.

A DBA, or "doing business as," name is a fictitious business name that a company's owner can use to identify his business. A business often operates under a DBA when a business owner does not want to use his personal name for the company.

Businessman and businesswoman talking at desk

A DBA works as a marketing tool, allowing the owner to better identify the business. For example, if John Smith starts a landscaping company, the default legal name of his business entity would be John Smith. This does not identify the business very well, so John Smith might apply for a DBA of "Smith's Landscaping Company."

DBAs can also transfer to a third party. An owner may want to transfer their DBA to another person or entity for any number of reasons, with the most common being the sale of the business. Because state law governs DBAs, the process of transferring a DBA varies slightly depending on the state of registration.

Changing Ownership of a DBA

The majority of states do not offer a clear way of transferring ownership of a DBA from the original owner to a new party. Be sure to check with your state's rules before starting the process of transferring.

When No Specific Rules Govern the Transfer of a DBA. If a state does not have specific rules in place, there are still ways to transfer a DBA to a third party. A common method of doing so is changing the contact information on the original DBA registration form. To do this, inform the state agency that governs businesses and corporations—usually the Secretary of State—that you would like to change the DBA contact information. The agency will either send you the correct form or point you to where you can find it online.

Fill out the required information, which usually includes general information about the business such as the names and addresses of the original owners and the contact information for the new owner. Changing the contact information effectively transfers ownership of the DBA to the new person.

When a State Has DBA Transfer Procedures in Place. Some states do have specific rules governing the transfer of DBA ownership. For example, Utah requires a business owner to file an application that requires the signatures of both the original DBA owner and the new owner. Depending on the state's requirements, the application might require notarization. As an alternative to the application, the original owner can provide the state with a bill of sale.

To ensure the proper transfer of ownership of a DBA, check your state's rules.

Transfer Fees

States sometimes charge a nominal fee when either changing the contact information of the DBA or filing a more formal application to transfer ownership. Most offices require payment by check, but many have moved toward accepting other forms of payment. Send the completed forms with the correct fee to the state agency that has jurisdiction over business, typically the Secretary of State.

An official notice of receipt confirms that the DBA has successfully transferred from the original owner to the new owner. At this point, the original owner is no longer bound to their former DBA, having transferred all responsibility for the legal name to the new owner. The new owner of the DBA must now follow all of the same state rules rules and legal guidelines that the original owner once did. The guidance of an experienced attorney in your state may be a valuable resource in transferring ownership of a DBA.

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.