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DBA stands for "doing business as" and is an official registration of your business name. In some states, this can be referred to as a "fictitious business name" or "assumed" name. DBA registration is important when you want to conduct business or accept money under a name other than your own, and can be used to create an alternate name for another business that has already been filed. It is also important when creating a business bank account, as most banks generally require it.
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DBA stands for "doing business as" and is an official and public registration of a business name. DBAs are also known as Fictitious Names, Fictitious Business Names, Assumed Names, and Trade Names. Essentially, a DBA is the name of a business other than the owner's name or, in the case of a corporation, a name that is different from the legal or true corporate name as on file with the Secretary of State. If you are conducting business under any name other than your own name or your company's legal name, you must register the fictitious name with your state and/or county.
DBA registration is necessary if your company conducts any business under a name other than your own name (for sole proprietors) or its legal name (for state-level entities such as corporations and LLCs). "Conducting business" can include marketing, advertising, letterhead, business cards, etc., in addition to actual business transactions. Also, banks generally require a DBA registration in order to open a business bank account. DBA registration is required if you anticipate collecting money under a name other than your own name or your true corporate name.
Another common reason to register a DBA is when your state-level entity (such as a corporation or limited liability company) has a division or unit that conducts business using a variation of—or a completely different name than—the true name. For example, a bank whose true name is "ABC Bank Inc." might market their mortgage services on a website called "abcmortgages.com" and might have a separate division for their loan services called "XYZ Lenders," in which case they would most likely file DBAs for both "abcmortgages.com" and :"XYZ Lenders" in all jurisdictions in which these names are used.
Most banks do require a DBA registration to open a business bank account. In many states, they will require a certified copy of the DBA.
If your name were Jane Brown and the name of your business was "Donuts Unlimited," you would register your business as "Jane Brown, doing business as Donuts Unlimited." If you were a corporation named "ABC, Inc.," and you conducted business under the name "Express Cabinets," you would register your business name as "ABC, Inc., doing business as 'Express Cabinets.'"
A DBA can be almost any name under which you are doing business. You cannot, however, make your DBA a corporate name such as XYZ, Inc. if you do not have a corporate name that is XYZ, Inc. In other words, when filing a DBA you cannot add "Inc." or "Corp." to your name to create the impression that your business is a corporation when, in fact, it is not.
In most jurisdictions, it is best to file your DBA prior to beginning any use of the name. In some jurisdictions, a DBA filing is required within a specific period of time since having begun use of the name (usually within 30-60 days).
DBAs are usually filed at the state level and sometimes at the county level as well. You should file your DBA in the state and/or county in which you are conducting business under the name. In addition, certain jurisdictions require publication of your DBA. If you don't know your jurisdiction's requirements, you've come to the right place by visiting MyCorporation.Com. It's what we do.
Depending on the jurisdiction, most DBA filings take 1-4 weeks with some exceptions.
Generally speaking, filing a DBA grants little, if any, exclusivity to use of the name. In many jurisdictions, more than one applicant can file the exact same DBA. The only way to legally ensure exclusive rights to the use of a name is to register a trademark. For more information on trademarks, visit our Trademark area.
Legally, you are required to identify your business with one of two numbers: either your Social Security Number or an EIN (Employer Identification Number, a.k.a. Federal Tax ID Number). If you are a sole proprietor, your Social Security Number can be used on all of your government forms and other official documents, but most small business advisors recommend that you apply for an EIN and use that number instead. If you are a corporation, LLC, or other state-level entity, you must obtain an EIN because your business is an entirely separate legal entity. For more information on EINs, please click here.
For more information on EINs, please click here.
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