How to Register a DBA Name So No One Else Can Use It

By Maggie Lourdes

Companies and individuals can operate under fictitious, or assumed, names called DBAs. DBA stands for "doing business as" -- and state laws regarding DBAs vary. It is a misdemeanor crime in Missouri and Michigan to conduct business using an unregistered DBA. Other states, such as Tennessee, do not always require you to register assumed names.

DBAs

Sole proprietors operating under business names that differ from their own legal names must generally register their DBAs. Businesses entities, such as corporations, must also generally register DBAs. State law determines if you must register assumed names at your state corporation division or with your county clerk's office. Generally, you may submit a DBA application in person, by mail or online.

Application Requirements

DBA applications require your legal name or your company's name and business address. You must state your proposed DBA, or fictitious name, and generally, the application must be notarized. You typically cannot obtain a DBA in your county or state if another person or company has already registered it. You can determine name availability before submitting a DBA application by calling or visiting your appropriate government agency. Many government offices also offer free, name-availability searches on their official websites.

File a DBA for your business online. Get Started Now
File a DBA for your business online. Get Started Now
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References

Related articles

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 Set Up a DBA in California

A DBA name, also called a fictitious or assumed name, grants an individual or company the right to do business under a name other than the individual's or company's legal name. California provides entrepreneurs with a relatively simple and straightforward process for setting up a DBA, which can be accomplished through the mail or in person in your county of residence. Setting up a DBA can lead to a successful career as a self-employed individual, or it can be the first step in building a larger organization.

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