How to File a DBA

By Bazal Razzaq

Chief Editor

Updated: October 23, 2023

Editorial Note: We earn a commission if you use the services recommended on this page. Commissions do not affect our opinions or recommendations.

File a DBA

Are you planning to file a DBA? We have prepared a guide to simplify the process for you.

Before you file a DBA ((doing business as), you must know that it is a fictitious name, assumed name, or a trade name. You will have to register with your state, county, and/or city.

Sole proprietors or partnerships operate under a DBA name instead of their surnames. It is used by the LLCs or corporations to market and diversify their brand.

Following is the How to File a DBA guide for your perusal.

How to Set Up a DBA

Choose Your State: The guidelines and laws for DBA differ from state to state. You will have to register your DBA with the state government, the county, or city government.

Some states need you to file a DBA with more than one government

Complete a DBA Name Search

Before you file, you must complete a DBA Name Search first. You must ensure that the name is not taken by or too similar to another registered business in your respective state.

You can use a Business name generator and create a logo for your brand as well. We suggest you secure a domain name (URL) before you file a DBA to make sure no other business entity uses the name.

Once you have secured a domain name for your “doing business as” name, consider setting up a business phone system to provide good customer service and build up credibility. We suggest using as it is highly affordable and has a variety of important features.

File your DBA with the respective state

You will have to file a DBA with the state or the city/county clerk’s office based on your location and the structure of the business.

Many states would require you to register a DBA with more than one government. For instance: a sole proprietorship will file with the state and county level in a state, on the other hand, another state may require a sole proprietorship to register with the county.

You will be required to file a DBA in the following states:

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington D.C.
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

What is a DBA

A DBA is a name under which a business operates. It is not necessarily a legal name. In some states, you can function under a different name if you officially register it with the proper city, county, or state agency.

DBAs are required by sole proprietorships, partnerships, LLCs, and corporations for branding reasons. Two reasons you need to file a DBA are:

  • You have a registered formal business entity that wants to grow into products, services, or brands, or to rebrand itself.

  • You have an unregistered business such as a sole proprietorship or partnership and want to function under a name different from your personal name. It should only be used by businesses involving very low profit and risk.

What is not a DBA

A DBA isn’t a legal business entity. It is simply a name that can be used by a business in place of its legal name. DBAs should be attached to a business entity such as –

  • Sole Proprietorships

  • Limited Liability Companies

  • General Partnerships

  • Limited Partnerships

  • Limited Liability Partnerships

  • For-profit and Nonprofit Corporations

Your business has Limited Liability Protection when you form a business entity into a limited liability company (LLC), corporation (S corp or C corp), limited partnership (LP), or limited liability partnership (LLP).

Sole proprietorships and general partnerships operate under the owner’s personal name and do not have limited liability protection. You can function under a DBA as a sole proprietor or general partnership but the business will not have any protection.

When should we use a DBA

  • Branding-

You can easily create or build a brand when you file “a Doing Business as” name. If your business offers different products or services, then filing a DBA can help you highlight and market the business in several ways.

If you are running a sole proprietorship or partnership, then “Doing Business As” will market the company very well and gain the attention of new and present customers.

  • Privacy-

Sole proprietorships and general partnerships should use their surnames as their legal names. You can use DBA to protect your privacy if your business is a sole proprietorship and you don’t wish to display your name in directories, online, or on public records.

  • Keeping Multiple Businesses under One LLC-

A Limited Liability Company allows Entrepreneurs to run several businesses under one roof by creating a DBA for each.

  • Banking-

Several banks require sole proprietors and general partnerships to file a DBA to open a business account. It increases credibility when you receive payments in the business name that customers want to see.

  • Availability of Domain Name-

There is a possibility that your business name isn’t available as a domain name. Many entrepreneurs choose to file a DBA which matches their domain name.

  • Credibility-

Sole proprietors and general partnerships acquire more credibility with a business name that isn’t their personal name.

What happens after you file a DBA

Once the DBA is registered and accepted, you can use it to carry out business operations. You can begin by opening a bank account and writing contracts to represent your business. You can use it to sell the business or a part of it as well.

Several states do not restrict using duplicate DBAs and protection doesn’t cross state lines. If you want to secure more protection against others using your trade name then you can register it as a trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

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Frequently Asked Questions​ (FAQs)

In several locations you can file or renew the DBA online through the proper office’s website.

“Doing Business As” doesn’t need a separate EIN as it is not a business entity. A DBA under any business entity would have an EIN if it is required.

If you hold a rental property in your name and have filed for DBA, it will not offer you any protection. The best practice will be to form an LLC to safeguard your personal assets if there is any issue with the rental property business.

Filling a DBA is a better option than changing the legal name of your business. For instance, if you want to rebrand your business entity or add another line of business, then filing a DBA is a much simpler process than going for a legal name change.

AN LLC is a business entity just like a corporation or a partnership which can operate without a DBA whereas DBA is the name or nickname of the entity which must be attached to a business structure(LLC).

A DBA can have INC. in the name of the business entity attached to the DBA is a corporation.

A DBA is necessary if you are using a business name in place of your legal business name. If you are operating a sole proprietorship or partnership, then you will require a “doing business as “name to open a business bank account or get listed in business directories.

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