Are you in the process of acquiring a doing business as (DBA) name for your business? Getting an alternate name for your company is a fairly straightforward process, but there can be some additional red tape to deal with depending on your state of formation. Specifically, some states require that you publish proof of your new DBA name in a local newspaper according to a specific schedule.
Failure to meet your state’s publishing requirements can result in your DBA being revoked, heavy fines, or a suspension or revocation of your business license. In some states this can even be considered a crime. Thankfully, most states do not have this requirement. However, if you do business in one of the few that does, it’s important to know the requirements and how to properly meet them.
What Is a DBA Publishing Requirement?
DBAs can provide a number of benefits for businesses of all sizes and functions. While the process of registering for a DBA generally requires little more than filling out the required paperwork and paying a fee, in some states businesses are also required to publish proof of their new name in a local newspaper.
The purpose of this requirement is to ensure transparency when it comes to company ownership, especially in the event of potential lawsuits.
States With DBA Publishing Requirements
There are a total of seven states that have some form of publishing requirement for DBA acquisitions: California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania. Each of these states has their own specific variations of this requirement:
- California: Within 30 days of filing your DBA acquisition paperwork, you’re required to publish a statement in a newspaper once a week for four consecutive weeks. You can publish in any newspaper in general circulation in the county where your primary physical business address is located.
- Florida: While Florida law asks business owners to certify that their DBA has been advertised in a least one newspaper in their county when signing their application, there is no requirement to provide proof of such publication.
- Georgia: You must publish a notice of your DBA once a week for two weeks in whatever newspaper your county sheriff’s department publishes their advertisements. Failure to do so can result in a misdemeanor offense.
- Illinois: Illinois has some highly specific rules for DBA publication. They require three publications — once per week for three consecutive weeks. The first of these three publications must be within 15 days of filing the certificate to acquire your DBA. Proof of all three publications must be filed with the county clerk within 50 days of filing your DBA application. If you fail to provide this information in a timely fashion, your DBA will be considered void. The State of Illinois can even charge you with a separate Class C misdemeanor for each day you conduct business in a noncompliant fashion.
- Minnesota: After you file your DBA with the secretary of state, you’ll need to publish a Certificate of Assumed Name (or an Amendment to Certificate of Assumed Name, if you already have a DBA that you’re looking to change). You can do so in any newspaper in your county as long as it runs for two consecutive issues. This means, you must publish two days in a row in a daily paper, or two weeks in a row in a weekly paper. After they publish your certificate twice, the newspaper will give you an affidavit of publication, which should be retained for your records.
- Nebraska: If you acquire a DBA in Nebraska, you will need to publish your DBA registration in a general-circulation legal newspaper in the city where your business is located (if there isn’t one, any legal paper in the county will suffice). You’ll need to present the secretary of state’s office with your proof of publication within 45 days of registering your DBA. If you fail to complete these steps, the secretary of state will cancel your DBA registration.
- Pennsylvania: Like Illinois, Pennsylvania’s rules are a bit more complex than most other states. When you first register your DBA, you’ll need to publish notice of the application in two newspapers within your county, one of which needs to be a legal newspaper. You don’t need to file your proof of publication with the state, but must retain it for your business records. If you fail to meet these requirements, your business will be barred from using the Pennsylvania court system to enforce any contracts entered into using your DBA. You can also be fined a $500 penalty.
How Do I Publish My DBA?
Many newspapers in your state will be familiar with DBA publishing requirements and should have a template in place for these ads. In most cases, you’ll need only provide them with a copy of your DBA certification, and they’ll do the rest.
Publishing fees can vary considerably from paper to paper, depending on location and the scope of circulation. To save money, make sure to determine the least expensive option that fits your state’s requirements.
Although most business owners will never need to concern themselves with DBA publishing requirements, if your business is located in one of the seven states that does require this, it’s vital you understand and comply with the regulations in place.
While the process for publishing your DBA is fairly simple, the penalties for failure to do so can be very steep.