A step by step guide for filing your DBA

July 30, 2020

Some businesses prefer to trade under a different name that was originally registered. This can either be for rebranding reasons, diversifying the brand or in the case of sole proprietors not to trade under a surname. A DBA  (Doing Business As), is essentially a name that is used by the public. It can also be called an assumed name, trade name or fictitious name and the registration process is exceedingly easy. 

For a business to operate under a DBA the appropriate paperwork must be filed with the state, county or city depending on the regulations. It may be required to file with more than one government agency, therefore it is important to check the guidelines for the specific area the business will be operating in. A filing fee is required to be paid where after a DBA registration certificate will be issued enabling the business to trade under the DBA legally.

The U.S. Small Business Administration’s Business Guide is a notable resource for checking whether a business needs to register a DBA. In actuality, any business looking to do business under a different name than what was originally registered, should file for a DBA.

A DBA can be registered by following the below 3 step process.

1. Select the State

Different states have different guidelines and regulations. Depending on the state’s rules the DBA may be required to file with more than one government agency. As an example, it may be necessary for a general partnership in one state to file with the state and the county. The same general partnership may however only be required to file with the county when in a different state.

Certain states such as Kansas, New Mexico and South Carolina do not allow for a DBA to be filed.

2. Choose a trade name

In some states it is not required to register a trade name, but that can be problematic and can cause a duplication of names. In order to avoid any confusion, a trade name should be registered. A tool such as the U.S. Trademark Electronic Search System can confirm whether a name has already been trademarked by another company.

A name generator tool can also be used to assist in not only choosing a name, but to also check the availability of the domain name which can be reserved in advance. Even if the business is not ready to design a website, it is advisable to secure the domain name before another company has a chance to claim it.

Setting up a business email will ensure that essential communication tools are in place for when the business starts its operations.

3. Register your DBA in the State

As mentioned previously, it will solely depend on state guidelines where the DBA needs to be registered. Some states may also require the business to publish with a local newspaper in order to announce that a DBA has been filed.

An EIN (Employer Identification Number) is required to file a DBA and is used for tax purposes. It is not advisable to use a social security number as it puts the owner at risk for identification fraud.

Costs range from $10 to $100 depending on the state. Considering that penalties for failing to register a DBA can run into the thousands of dollars, it should not be a consideration whether to file or not. 

In some cases, a business might also need to register a trademark. A trademark protects the intellectual property of the business for example the business’ name, logo, colors etc. It can be registered with the U.S Patent and Trademark Office and will take approximately 1 year for the process to be complete and a certificate to be issued.

There are professional services available in the market that can assist if the process seems too complicated, but overall it is quite a simple process. Visit this site for more information.

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