How to File a DBA on Your Own in Iowa

By Mark Kennan

When you operate a business under any name besides the registered name or your own name if you are a sole proprietor, it's sometimes referred to as using a "doing business as" or DBA. In Iowa, this type of name is called a fictitious name or trade name, depending on what type of business you have.


You're required to file a trade name in Iowa when you're operating as a sole proprietor and using a name other than your official name. For example, say your name is Joseph Martin and you have your own freelance writing business that you operate as a sole proprietor. If you want to run the business as "Fantastic Freelancing," you need to register because "Fantastic Freelancing" is a fictitious name. Alternatively, if your business is already registered in Iowa, for example as an LLC or corporation, but you want to use a different name than its official name, you need to register a fictitious name.

Fictitious Name Forms

Iowa requires that you complete a form called a "Fictitious Name Resolution" before you start using the name. The form requires that you identify your connection with the business, and the name that your business intends to adopt. After you sign and date the form, you submit it, along with the filing fee, to the secretary of state. After you've submitted it, it becomes a public record that is open to public inspection.

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Trade Name Registration

Unlike fictitious names, Iowa trade names are filed with the county in which you do business. For example, if your sole proprietorship or partnership does business in Polk County, you must register your trade name with the Polk County Recorder's Office. The registration form requires the name and signature of every person who has an ownership in the business and the trade name. In addition, it must be notarized and must be accompanied with the appropriate filing fee.


Registering your trade name or fictitious name doesn't actually give you any legal protection for your name. Instead, it merely gives the public notice of who actually owns the company. In addition, your trade name or fictitious name can't make false claims or suggest an illegal business. For example, you couldn't do business as "Mark's Legal Cuban Imports."

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Define DBA

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."

What Do You Need to Register a Business Name?

For many customers, your business name is the first point of reference they have with regard to your company. Leave a good impression, and you could be well on your way to making a lifelong customer. Give a bad impression, and that person might never give your business a chance. How you register the name of your business depends on the type of name you're registering.

How to Form a Sole Proprietorship in Ohio

Many Ohio businesses are formed as sole proprietorships because this type of business is relatively simple to set up, and the individual owner maintains complete control over the management and profits of the business. A sole proprietorship may be formed without any official registration with the state, but there may be additional licensing and registration requirements depending on the type of business.


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