Can an LLC File a DBA & Still Do Business Under the LLC Name?

By Joe Stone

An LLC, or limited liability company, is a legal entity that has its own rights and obligations separate from its owners; conversely, a DBA is not a legal entity, and whoever uses a DBA assumes all of the obligations of the business. An LLC and DBA can be used in conjunction with one another, but care must be taken to use them properly so as to avoid personal liability where none was intended.

LLC Formation

Each state has its own laws regarding the formation and proper maintenance of an LLC, including naming requirements. Once an appropriate document is filed with and accepted by the state, the name specified in the document for the LLC is the legal name for the new business entity. This name must be used on all subsequent legal documents involving the LLC, such as tax filings and applications for business licenses or loans. The LLC is also entitled to conduct its business of providing products and services in its own name (see Resources).

DBA Registration

A DBA, which stands for "doing business as," is not a legal business name. It is a fictitious or assumed name that is used by a business to identify its products or services. In order to use a DBA, the business owner must register the name according to the state law where the business is located -- regardless of whether the business owner is an individual or business entity, such as an LLC. If an LLC registers a DBA, it has the right to conduct business using the DBA and its own legal name (see Resources).

Ready to start your LLC? Start an LLC Online Now

Maintaining LLCs and DBAs

After formation of an LLC or the registration of a DBA, further action must be taken over time to ensure proper maintenance and lawful use for both the LLC and DBA. For example, most states require a periodic filing to maintain an LLC in good standing, such as the filing of an Annual List in Nevada or a Biennial Report in Iowa. Failure to make the required filing can result in the LLC incurring monetary penalties and forfeiting its right to engage in business. A DBA registration is only valid for a specified period of time, and must be renewed as required by state law. If the DBA is not renewed, the right to use its name will expire and the name may be registered by another business.

Personal Liability

One of the primary reasons for forming an LLC is to shield your personal assets from the obligations and liabilities of the business. If you intend to use a DBA in conjunction with your LLC, it is important that you do not confuse when and how to use your business's legal name -- LLC name -- and assumed name -- DBA name. Because the DBA never provides personal liability protection, you may find yourself personally liable for business debts if documents such as contracts or leases are signed in a manner that confuses whether you or the LLC is using the DBA. This is an area where legal advice may be necessary to avoid such problems.

Ready to start your LLC? Start an LLC Online Now
Differences Between LLC & DBA



Related articles

How to Trademark an Abandoned Trademark

Trademark rights are acquired when a trademark is used in commerce to identify a business's products or services. These rights will last as long as the trademark is used. When a business ceases using the trademark, the rights associated with the trademark may be considered abandoned. You can acquire the rights to an abandoned trademark by taking steps to investigate the circumstances regarding when the trademark ceased being used and to begin using the trademark in your business. You should register the trademark to acquire additional protection for your right to exclusively use the trademark.

How to File a DBA in Georgia

Filing a DBA, or "doing business as" document, allows a business to operate under a different name than the name used when it was first created in Georgia. A DBA may also be referred to as a trade name, a fictitious business statement or an assumed business name. In Georgia, a DBA is referred to as a trade name, and a business that wants to use a DBA must complete and file a specific form before doing so. All businesses registered with the Georgia Secretary of State or a local county government must file a DBA form to operate under a different name, including corporations, limited liability companies and partnerships.

Difference Between an Individual & a DBA

An individual may operate an unincorporated business as a sole proprietor either under her own name or an assumed trade name, which is called a DBA or "doing business as" name. Business partnerships and corporations may also choose to conduct business under a fictitious DBA name to distinguish their business from others or build the basis for a better marketing platform.

LLCs, Corporations, Patents, Attorney Help LLCs

Related articles

How to Obtain a Trademark

You obtain a trademark by using a logo, word, slogan or design that is associated with a product or service provided by ...

Cancelling a DBA

A "doing business as" name, also known as a trade name and a fictitious business name, is the name under which a ...

Trade Name Registration & Renewal in the State of Ohio

Ohio law permits you to register a trade name for your business which is used to designate and distinguish your ...

How to File Your DBA in Dallas

An assumed business name, also known as a "doing business as," allows you to operate your business under a name that is ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED