How to Change a DBA

By John Cromwell

The legal names of sole proprietorships and partnerships are the names of the owners. This is meant to reflect that the businesses are simply an extension of the individual. However, some of these businesses may want to present themselves to the public under a different name for marketing or branding reasons. All states permit this by allowing businesses to file a “doing business as” form with a local or state office. If a business wants to change its DBA, it will have to work with the state where the original DBA was filed.

Step 1

Check to make sure the name you want to use has not been taken by another organization in the state. State authorities generally want to be sure that the name you choose will not confuse your business with another. Consider checking your state’s database of registered names, your state’s department of revenue and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Step 2

Contact the state office that processed the original DBA registration. Where you must file your DBA depends on which state you are in. Possibilities include a county clerk’s office or the Secretary of State’s office.

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Step 3

Ask a processing agent at the appropriate office what the process is for altering a DBA. The process for changing a DBA varies by state. Some states may require that you reapply for a new DBA. Other states may allow you to amend the DBA if the changes to the name are minor.

Step 4

Cancel the prior DBA if your state requires cancellation prior to a change. The process of cancelling a DBA will vary by state. Generally, you will be required to complete a form and submit it to the appropriate state or local authority.

Step 5

Complete the appropriate paperwork. You will need to provide the new DBA and your business’s legal name. You will also need to have the owners of the business sign the completed form.

Step 6

File the paperwork with the appropriate office. Be sure to pay any fee that may be required.

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"Doing Business As" names and Employer Identification Numbers serve important, yet distinct, purposes in business operations. A DBA allows a business to operate under a name other than its legal name, while an EIN serves to identify the company to the state and federal authorities for tax purposes. A business generally only has one EIN but may change DBAs. If a business chooses to change its DBA name, it must do so at the state or local level. However, because a business only has one EIN, a new DBA is automatically tied to the old EIN.

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A "doing business as" name, also known as a trade name and a fictitious business name, is the name under which a business operates that may be different from its original, official name. A company may use DBAs to conduct business under a different name for various reasons. For example, a foreign company may use a DBA in a specific location because its creation name is being used by another business in the same area. When a business no longer needs its DBA name, it can cancel the name registration with the local government agency that handles DBA registrations.


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