How do I Convert a DBA to LLC?

By Joe Stone

If you are conducting business using a DBA, which is short for "doing business as" and sometimes called a fictitious business name, and want and you want to use the DBA as a name for an LLC, you can do this by following the LLC naming laws in your state. Each state has its own LLC laws and state agency charged with overseeing compliance with these laws, usually the secretary of state. Although variations exist between state LLC laws, forming an LLC using your DBA name will require determining the name’s availability and filing the required document that starts the LLC’s existence.

Step 1

Find the state agency that oversees the formation of business entities in the state where your business’s principal offices are located. A useful search tool is available on the website, which is the federal government's official website for small businesses. The site has links for the state agencies throughout the country that will help you find the agency in your state that oversees business filings (see Resources).

Step 2

Locate the naming requirements for an LLC in your state. A good source for this information is the website for state agency overseeing the formation of LLCs. State agencies that provide a pre-printed form to use when forming an LLC will have instructions included with the form that specify the naming requirements. There are typically two basic requirements: the LLC name must include the words "limited liability company" or end in the abbreviation "LLC" or something similar; it must also be distinguishable from other business names on file with the state. The naming requirements can also be found in the each state’s LLC statutes.

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Step 3

Check the state records to determine if your DBA name is available for use as an LLC name. Using the state agency’s website, you can check the name online or by contacting the state agency by mail or phone as directed on the site. If the name is available, you will most likely have the option to reserve the name so that it is still available when you submit your LLC formation documents.

Step 4

Locate the information from your state agency regarding formation of an LLC. The agency’s website usually provides a pre-printed form in a format available for downloading, completing and filing. Complete the form using the DBA name you verified was available for use. File the document according to the instructions provided by the state agency. Once the form is accepted for filing, your DBA name will be converted to your LLC’s name.

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How to Fill Out DBA Forms

DBA is short for "doing business as." Sole proprietors and even larger companies may elect to operate under DBAs or fictitious names for a variety of reasons. DBA registration forms are filed with the County Clerk or Secretary of State for the state in which a business is located. Because the filing procedure is different in every area, the requirements for filling out DBA forms vary, although most forms require similar information and can be filled out in a matter of minutes.

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Searching for LLC names is accomplished by contacting a state government agency that oversees the formation of limited liability companies. Each state has its own agency, such as the Secretary of State in California and the Department of State in Delaware. Searching LLC names in the state where you intend to form an LLC, before drawing up any papers, will save you time.

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A DBA is an acronym for “doing business as," and can be used by any business owner, including an S Corporation, to distinguish the business’s products and services from its competitors. Any type of trade name, fictitious name or assumed name used for a business is generally referred to as a DBA. To add a DBA to your S-Corp, you must follow the requirements of the state law where your S-Corp was formed. Most states require registration of a DBA with a government agency, with some states further requiring publication of the DBA in an approved newspaper.

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