Define DBA

By Mark Kennan

A DBA, short for "doing business as," refers to the name a company or individual uses when it operates under a different name than its legally registered name. Most states require you to register your DBA with either your county clerk’s office or with your state government, depending on where you're doing business. DBAs are also called "assumed names," "trade names," or "fictitious names."

When You Need a DBA

Sole proprietors need to register a DBA when using any name besides their given names. For example, if your name is Kevin Johnson and you want to open "Johnson's Donuts," you would need to register that fictitious business name. Legally registered entities, like limited liability companies and corporations, must register a DBA when using any name besides the official name in their registration documents. For example, if you register a corporation as "Michael's Holding Companies, Inc." and then decide to open a store called "Michael's Pet Store," you must register the latter name as a DBA.

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What Does DBA Mean in Business?

In the business world, DBA - which stands for "doing business as" - is a vitally important acronym to know. It signifies that an individual or company is doing business under a fictitious name. One common example would be a chain store franchise, operated under a commercial name familiar to everyone but actually run by an individual or firm owning the local franchise. State laws govern the creation and use of DBA fictitious names.

Can an LLC Have More Than One DBA?

Running a successful business requires a keen understanding of the marketplace. In the initial stages of operations, this foresight is important for determining how to structure a company and the names it will use in conducting transactions with the public. A limited liability company allows owners to enjoy the "pass-through" tax advantages of partnerships as well as avoiding personal liability for the business's debts. While state law requires that LLCs operate under the legal name contained in their Articles of Organization, sometimes this name is not desirable from a branding perspective, particularly if the company will market very different products or services. In that case, the LLC can register one or more "doing business as" names with the state.

How to Apply to Register a Trade Name in Arizona

Trade names, also known as "doing business as" (DBAs) or assumed business names, enable your company to operate in Arizona using a name that is not its legal name. There are a number of reasons why you may want to use a trade name rather than the legal name of your business. If you're organized as a sole proprietor, a trade name allows you to build a brand around a name that is not your own name. If you're organized as an independent entity, a trade name enables you to operate your business in states where your company's official name is too close to a name used by another entity.

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