What is a DBA and How Do I File for One?

If you are looking to file a DBA today, but you’re not sure on how to do it, then we can help you. In this guide we will explain what exactly a DBA is and how to file one.

What is a DBA?

DBA stands for “Doing Business As” and is basically a nickname for your company, when you want to expand your goods or services. It can be a fictitious trade name that is completely different from the existing name for your legal entity. For example, you may have a company that sells cat food and is called Great Cat Food, but you want to expand to selling cat toys and so you would need to register a DBA and can name it as Cat Toys Express.

A DBA is not a formation of a business structure. Formations of business structures are LLCs, Partnerships, Corporations, Sole proprietorship and even non profit organisations. A DBA does not protect you from any liability for your company, since this is only done through the business structure that you choose for your company.

You also do not need to pay any additional taxes or obtain an EIN for a DBA, since it will function under the existing legal entity that you have for your business. A DBA can either expire or be valid indefinitely, depending on the state that you are registering in. The fees for registering for a DBA can cost anywhere between $10 to $100, and would either need to be registered with the state government or the country or city government.

The Three Steps for Filing a DBA:

Select your state.

The first step is to make the right and careful decision based on which state you wish to register in. The only states that do not accept DBAs are Kansas, New Mexico, and South Carolina. You have to research and check online the state rules for DBAs and whether they are suitable for your business.

Choose a name and searching for it.

The first and most simple step is choosing a name for your DBA. It can be any fictitious name that you want it to be, however, it cannot be too similar or the same as an existing business, otherwise it will be rejected. You can use online tools to help brainstorm business name ideas, such as the Business Name Generator.

Once you have chosen your name for your business, you also need to do a name search on the U.S. Trademark Electronic Search System, in order to guarantee and double check the availability of the name. In order to help prevent any future obstacles, you can also obtain a domain URL name for your DBA.

Register your DBA with the state.

The final step is to actually register your DBA with the state. However, the process for this all falls down to the location you are in and the existing business structure that you have. Once you have clarified this, you would need to register your DBA with the state or county clerk’s office. There are actually several states that require you to register your DBA with more than one level of government. There are online state guides that can offer further information about this.

Is getting a DBA worth it?

If you are looking to expand your business, then yes it is. It can work as a benefit for you to rebrand your business and give a second good impression to clients. You do not need to do extra paperwork, but the easy three steps that are highlighted above. There’s no added tax or secondary business structure needed, which means that all payments will still be accepted under your legal entity. A DBA may have registering fees, but there are no additional fees to pay for extra professional help or licenses. It is a win-win situation for a business.

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