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DBA/Assumed Business Name


Trade Name vs. Legal Name

DBA stands for "doing business as." A DBA is a trade name, an official name, under which a business is legally allowed to operate, that differs from the business' registered legal name. Also known as an "assumed business name," DBAs are a means by which a company can operate under different brands as one company.

Why File a DBA

There are many reasons a business might choose to file a DBA. DBAs can be very useful for certain types of businesses. A magazine publishing business, for example, may wish to sign contracts with advertisers under the titles of their publications, but manage funds under a single operating account. Registering a DBA for each title would allow for that.

Other reasons to use a trade name:

  • In the case of a sole proprietorship, a DBA may be required when setting up an operating account.
  • A business may choose to register their website domain name as a DBA.
  • A DBA may be be more distinctive, memorable, and easier to spell than a business' legal name.
  • A DBA may be useful when expanding business operations into a new market.
  • A business with multiple locations or sub-operations, may choose to run each under assumed business names.
  • Registering a trade name tells other businesses that the name is in use.

Limitations of a DBA

Registering a DBA is not registering a business. A DBA filing comes after business registration. A DBA registerd without first filing a business registration will be treated as a sole proprietorship. Sole proprietorships lack the liabilty protections afforded LLCs, and other business entities.

A DBA is also not a trademark. Trademark is a separate filing through United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

Like with naming your business, a thorough business name lookup should be performed prior to registering a DBA. Conveniently, the links on the linked page are also the state pages where you can register your DBA, file your or update your business registration information, etc.

Filing & Registration Service Companies

The following companies offer new LLC filing and registered agent services across the country. In many cases, filing is free, plus state fees, with registered agent and other services being add-ons with associated fees.

Zen Business
Create an LLC | Registered Agent

Northwest Registered Agent
Start an LLC | Registered Agent

What You Need to Know

You can file your LLC paperwork yourself, or you can choose to work with an LLC formation service like those listed above, but be sure you understand each point on this page going in. The companies listed are reputable companies, but surprises can occur if you don’t understand that each piece of the puzzle is often considered a separate billable service. Filing a new LLC does not automatically create an EIN, or grant state licenses or permits.

Decide on which state you will file in. If it’s your home state, decide if you will act as your registered agent or use a service.

Eathan Mertz

Serial entrepreneur with 25+ years of startup
experience. Co-founded first startup in 1998.