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
Do You Need a DBA for Sole Proprietorship?

References

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How to Get a DBA in Virginia

A DBA, short for "doing business as," is known as a fictitious name in Virginia. Using a fictitious name allows you to operate your business using something other than your given name. For example, if you'd rather call your grocery store "Family Friendly Foods" than use your name, you must register "Family Friendly Foods" as a fictitious name. Virginia law makes it a misdemeanor punishable by fines and up to a year in jail if you use a fictitious name without registering.

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.

How to Incorporate a DBA in California

The term “DBA” is an acronym for “doing business as” and refers to a fictitious name that a company may use in the course of transacting business. A DBA must be registered if the company wishes to use a name other than what appears in its articles of incorporation. It is not possible to incorporate a DBA as you would do with a business, but you can incorporate your company and then register a DBA. You might wish to do this for several reasons, one being the fact that a fictitious name allows you to create a unique persona for your business. Fictitious business names must be registered in the county where the company has its principal place of business. Statewide fictitious name filings are not available in California.

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