It is easy to file for a DBA or assumed name other than the legal name.
When starting a business, the entrepreneur has to decide how the business is going to be presented to the public. Whether it’s a sole proprietor, a partnership or a registered business, if the owner chooses to trade under a different name, the chosen name is known as “Doing Business As” (DBA), an assumed name or a trade name. A DBA may be required in some states, or by a bank to open a business account or it can be voluntary. Generally, the DBA has to be filed before operations begin, but filing it does not amount to creating a legal entity. Therefore, a DBA is always attached to a sole proprietorship, LLC, a partnership or a corporation. A person or business entity can possibly have two or more DBAs, each for a different product or service market.
How does one file a DBA online?
The process of filing a DBA is quite simple, but the requirements vary from state to state. With advancements in technology and the accessibility of the internet, the process has been simplified and can be done online. The process is the same whether one is filing physically or online. Below are the steps to be followed when filing for a DBA online.
1. Carry out a name search
It is possible to choose a name that is being used by another business, that is too similar to another name already in use, that has been trademarked, or that does not comply with the naming requirements of the state. To create the name, it helps a lot to use a naming guide like one provided by TRUic on this website.
The next step is a name search in the U.S. Trademark Electronic Search System to determine whether someone else has trademarked the chosen name. If the name is available, the next best step is to check immediately if the domain name is available. If the domain is available, it’s advisable to buy it fast before someone else does, even if it’s too early to set up a website.
2. Check the state regulations for filing a DBA
Every state has its own procedure for registering a DBA. One should therefore find out if the state in which the business will be run requires filing with the state, the county or the city government. In some states, business people may be required to register their DBAs with several government levels. For example, a sole proprietorship may be required to register a DBA with both the state and county clerk in one state, but only at county level in another state, and only with the secretary of state in yet another state. Usually, filing at county level must be done in each county where the business will operate, and different counties may have varying forms and fees for the whole process.
3. Register the DBA with the State
Download Form 503 (the Assumed Name Certificate) from the Secretary of State website, read the instructions carefully, and fill it out. The website from which to download this form varies from state to state, but the primary details to be filled out include:
- The structure of the business
- The business’ head office address
- The location where the company was formed
- The period that the fictitious name will be in use
- Counties or states where the name will be used. This depends on how the business operations will be distributed.
After filling out the form, submission to the right office can be done online these days.
The cost of filing a DBA
The cost of filing a DBA is quite low, ranging between $10 and $100. However, if a business is required to have a DBA by state law, and it fails to register one, the penalties and fees can be several thousand dollars.