Sat 23 Apr 2016 | By:

What, Why, and How to Register an Indiana DBA

Why and How to File a DBA

Starting a business in Indiana is an excellent decision. It is also an enormous responsibility that you have to carry gracefully.

Building any kind of business, in any other state is quite a challenge. You have to prepare and plan a lot of things before you can fully operate and go through endless legal processes before you can fully operate.

You need to consider incorporating your Indiana startup, obtain necessary licenses and permits, understand Indiana tax regulation and comply with additional state requirements. All these are just some of the things that require your attention.

If you think that’s all, there’s one more thing that you need to educate yourself on! You have to understand what “Doing Business As” or DBA is. An Indiana DBA is not a mandatory requirement to start a business in the state of Indiana, however, it’s important that you’re familiar with it because at some point, it’s going to be of great to use.

In this article, we’re going to discuss what an Indiana DBA is, why it is filed and how a DBA registration can be processed. If you’re ready to learn then let’s start!


What is an Indiana DBA?

Your Indiana DBA, also known as your assumed, trade and fictitious business name is an alternative business name different to the official registered name of your Indiana small business.

There are instances when the legal name of a business defaults to the name of the owner/s. There’s no way to change this unless you file an Indiana DBA to use a business name of your choice. If you’re currently in this situation and you find it uncomfortable to use your personal name, you have to take everything in consideration as early as now so you can make a decision.

Your legal business name will be used in all government forms and applications and processes. It will be on the front page of every legal document so you need to make sure that you create the right decision to file a DBA or not.

Apart from this use, your Indiana DBA will also allow you to do the following business activities: transact with the use of your fictitious name and accept checks, money and other types of payment directly under your trade name. For your Indiana DBA application to become valid, you need to initiate its circulation in all publications stating your complete personal name and fictitious business name. It should be done within 30 days from date of filing.

Lastly, your DBA name should appear in all official publications once every week for 4 consecutive weeks. Within 30 days after the last publishing date, file an affidavit of publication before your local county clerk’s office.


Why File an Indiana DBA?

1) For sole proprietors

As mentioned, there are instances when the legal name of a business automatically defaults to the name of the owner/s; this is true for businesses running under sole proprietorship. As mandated by federal law, businesses running under this entity have to use the personal name of their business owners as the business name.

For the majority of entrepreneurs this can be uncomfortable, especially for those who want to maintain their privacy. If you want to change this and use a better business name that perfectly represents your company or brand, you can file an Indiana DBA to solve your problem once and for all.


2) Client requiring a DBA

Businesses formed under sole proprietorship, general partnership and even freelancers are required by most employers or contractors to have a DBA ready. Some clients require this because they prefer a formal business name than the use a personal name of a company during contract signing.

If you experience this, don’t get offended as this is normal practice in the field. So you can close a deal and proceed with contract signing, make sure that you have this requirement prepared so everything goes smoothly.


3) Building a new business

You can start multiple businesses even without having to form a separate entity such as a corporation or an LLC for each business. For instance, you have an existing business which is incorporated, and you want to branch out and expand into multiple websites, companies, stores and more.

In this situation, you can maintain your incorporated business, say for example it’s a corporation, and utilize an Indiana DBA for every individual business. This will help you save a lot of money and expenses and even cut down your paperwork.


4) Preference not to incorporate

For an entrepreneur who wants to test the waters first and see if their business takes off, they can choose not to incorporate their business and file a DBA first to use an official name. Business owners who are starting small practice this as it helps them save money.

However, once their business is received well by the public and starts progressing, they later on incorporate it for added protection. This is a practical and efficient way to start a company, however, there are certainly some risks.


5) Banks require a DBA

This again applies to those who are running their business under sole proprietorship and general partnership. Before you can fully apply for a business bank account or do other bank transactions, you may need to present a DBA. Without this, your application for a business bank account can be rejected.


How to File an Indiana  DBA

Step 1) Obtain a Copy of the DBA Registration Form

To start filing your Indiana DBA, you need to find and get a copy of the DBA Registration Form. Everything is basically on the form; instructions, required data, mailing address if you want to submit the form through mail and more important information.

The easiest way to obtain the DBA Registration Form is to visit your local county clerk’s office. You can also check out the Indiana Secretary of State’s website; both agencies will certainly have a copy of the form. Prepare a filing fee of $25.


Step 2) Fill-out the Registration Form

The second step to complete your DBA registration is to fill-out the form accurately. Make sure to prepare all the necessary information asked of you before proceeding because you might write the wrong entry. Make the following information available:

After successfully filling-out the form, recheck for the last time and create some changes or corrections if necessary.


Step 3) Mail your filled-out DBA Form promptly

Once you’re done with the second step, have the DBA Registration Form notarized. After that, you can file the form before the Indiana Secretary of State’s Office, or with the County Recorder in the specific county where you conduct business. Don’t forget to attach a filing fee which is also indicated within the form. Now, all you have to do is basically wait!


Should You File a DBA in Indiana?

Generally, an Indiana DBA can be quite useful, but it will not give you the same amount of advantages or benefits that incorporation can provide you. If you want full protection for you, your Indiana small business and consumers or customers, you need to incorporate your business before the state of Indiana.

Unlike a formal incorporation, a DBA will not allow you to gain exclusive rights to your business name. Meaning, you cannot trademark your fictitious business name. With this, anybody can recycle and use your chosen trade name again. Think everything through, do you need to file an Indiana DBA or incorporate your business? It’s all up to you!

This article is an informational guide and as such should only be used as a reference when filing an IN DBA, and it should not be used as legal advice. Your lawyer is still the best person to talk to if you want more details on the legalities of filing a ‘Doing Business As’ in Indiana or bringing a business idea to life in general.

About Ryan James

Half hardworking hermit, half avid adventurer, Ryan founded Startup Savant to simplify entrepreneurship and pay it forward by donating a portion of all revenue to support children's education via