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When and How to File a DBA

A DBA, “Doing Business As”, name is a consumer protection against those who would try to fraudulently conduct business under a non-existent business name. For business owners who intend to conduct business under a name other than their own, a DBA may be essential in order to function within legal limits. There are many benefits of creating a DBA for sole proprietors, partnerships and LLC’s. While the methods for filing a DBA vary from region, many principles are the same.

Should I File a DBA?

A DBA is a necessity for both sole proprietors and partnerships who prefer not to, or aren’t able to, conduct business under their personal names. Additionally, filing for a DBA can be useful for LLC’s which want to conduct business under a different name without the hassle, and the cost, of forming a new corporation. In many circumstances, it may be a necessity for sole proprietors or partnerships to form a DBA in order to open a merchant account, or accept credit cards and other payments. In fact, various areas require one to have a DBA prior to opening a business bank account.

How to File a DBA

The biggest factor when filing for a DBA is location. Depending on the area, one may have to file either at a county or state level or, in some states, may even not have to file for one at all. For mobile businesses in which DBA’s must be filed at county-level, each county must have a DBA registered. Additionally, in some areas, there is only a small window to file a DBA, typically 40-90 days, for sole proprietors or partnerships.

Typically, filing a DBA is as simple as going to one’s local Clerk of Court office and completing a reasonable amount of paperwork and paying a small filing fee, though some states and areas have more rigorous requirements. It is important to note that before filing out the DBA form, ensure that no other business has used the name under which one plans to use, as this will waste valuable time and money. Additionally, is typically necessary to have a list of all employees who intend to use the name, as well as their social security number or employee identification number.

Because the process of filing for a DBA can vary drastically from area to area, the best advice is to contact one’s local clerk of court in order to ensure that one has all necessary information prior to proceeding.

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