How to File a DBA in Iowa

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Filing an Iowa DBA, also known as a fictitious name or trade name, is a simple process and it’s done at the county level or with the Iowa Secretary of State depending on your business structure.

Our How to File a DBA in Iowa guide will help you get started on branding your small business.

Important!

A DBA is used for branding purposes. A DBA isn't a type of business structure and won't protect your personal assets.

Forming an LLC is the best choice for most small businesses. Visit our DBA vs LLC guide to learn what types of businesses need limited liability protection.

How To Use This Guide

First, Choose Your Business Type:

Sole Proprietorship or Partnership

A sole proprietorship is a business owned by a single individual that isn't formally organized.

LLC, Corporation, or LLP

If your business is an LLC, Corporation, or LLP, the information to set up your DBA can be found here.

Use A Professional Service

A professional service will handle filing your DBA on your behalf, allowing you to focus on the other needs of your new business.

four point eight out of fiveMyCompanyWorks ($99 + state fee) for a personalized DBA service.

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Filing an Iowa DBA for Sole Proprietors and General Partnerships

Sole proprietorships and partnerships operating under a name other than their legal name are required to file with the appropriate County recorder’s office(s).

A sole proprietorship is a business owned by a single individual that isn't formally organized. If you run a business and file taxes under your own name, you are a sole proprietor.

A DBA doesn't offer any protection for your personal assets in the event that your business is sued. For more information on setting up a limited liability company, visit our How to Form an LLC page and select your state.


SKIP AHEAD

If you need to create a DBA for an LLC or Corporation, you can click here to skip ahead.

Step 1: Start With an Iowa DBA Name Search

If you haven't already, head over to the Iowa Secretary of State website to make sure your name isn't taken by— or too similar to— another registered Iowa business.

TIP: Our business name generator tool is a great resource for entrepreneurs who are still working to create the perfect business name or website address.

You should also search county trade name records. You can search Polk County’s records online.

Make sure your name complies with Iowa naming rules:

  • Your name cannot include words that could confuse your business with a government agency (FBI, Treasury, State Department, etc.).
  • Restricted words (e.g. Bank, Attorney, University) may require additional paperwork and a licensed individual, such as a doctor or lawyer, to be part of your business.

Next, a quick search on the U.S. Trademark Electronic Search System will tell you whether someone else has already trademarked your name.

If you need extra guidance with naming your business, we can help.

Now would be the perfect time to make sure there’s a web domain available for your DBA.

Find a Domain Now

Service provided by GoDaddy.com

After registering a domain name, consider setting up a professional email account (@yourcompany.com). Google's G Suite offers a business email service that comes with other useful tools, including word processing, spreadsheets, and more. Try it for free

Step 2: Register Your DBA with the County Recorder

If your business is a sole proprietorship or partnership and is operating under a name other than the owner’s legal name, then you are required to file a trade name form with the appropriate county recorder’s office(s).

Knowing which county to file in is simple: you must file in any county where your business conducts or transacts business.

We will give you step-by-step directions to get a Polk County DBA. If you need to file in a different county than Polk County, you’ll have to get in touch with the county recorder for instructions.

You can find your counties' contact information here.

A DBA does not offer any protection for your personal assets in the event that your business is sued. For more information on setting up a limited liability company, visit our How to Form an LLC page and select your state.


How to File a Polk County DBA

At this point, you should’ve already chosen a name for your business and completed the name searches in Step 1 above.

You can search the Polk County records online.

Forms

Submit Your Trade Name Form

Polk County Administration Building
111 Court Avenue Ste 250
Des Moines, IA 50309-2251

Payment

  • $7 for the first page and $5 for each additional page


Manage Your Polk County DBA

DBA Questions

Call the Polk County Recorder’s Office at 515-286-3160.

Renew Your DBA

Your trade name does not expire.

Change Your DBA

You will need to fill out a new registration to change your trade name. You can change information like addresses and owners names by filing the trade name form.

Withdraw Your DBA

Fill out the trade name form and check the box next to “dissolve trade name.”

Filing an Iowa DBA for LLCs, Corporations, and LLPs

Incorporated businesses like LLCs, Corporations, and LLPs must file their DBA with the Iowa Secretary of State. The following business types are considered incorporated:

  • For-profit Corporations, Non-Profit Corporations
  • Professional Corporations, Professional Associations
  • Limited Partnerships, Limited Liability Partnerships
  • Limited Liability Companies
  • Any Foreign Filing Entities

If you are registering a sole proprietorship or partnership, go back to the DBA guide for unincorporated businesses.

Step 1: Start With an Iowa DBA Name Search

If you haven't already, head over to the Iowa Secretary of State website to make sure your name isn't taken by— or too similar to— another registered Iowa business.

TIP: Our business name generator tool is a great resource for entrepreneurs who are still working to create the perfect business name or website address.

Make sure your name complies with Iowa naming rules:

  • Your name cannot include words that could confuse your business with a government agency (FBI, Treasury, State Department, etc.).
  • Restricted words (e.g. Bank, Attorney, University) may require additional paperwork and a licensed individual, such as a doctor or lawyer, to be part of your business.

Next, a quick search on the U.S. Trademark Electronic Search System will tell you whether someone else has already trademarked your name.

Now would be the perfect time to make sure there’s a web domain available for your DBA as well.

If you need extra guidance with naming your business, we can help.

Find a Domain Now

Service provided by GoDaddy.com

After registering a domain name, consider setting up a professional email account (@yourcompany.com). Google's G Suite offers a business email service that comes with other useful tools, including word processing, spreadsheets, and more. Try it for free

Step 2: Register Your DBA with the State

If your business is incorporated, like an LLC or Corporation, you are required to file your DBA with the Iowa Secretary of State.

First, complete the certificate of assumed name form.

The application will ask for your new DBA name and information about your business and what state laws your business is subject to.

Submit Your Fictitious Name Resolution Form

File Online

Mail

Secretary of State
Business Services Division
Lucas Building, 1st Floor
Des Moines, Iowa 50319

Payment and Fees

Fees

  • $5 Filing Fee

Payment

Make checks payable to “Secretary of State.”

Manage Your Iowa DBA

DBA Questions

Call the Iowa Secretary of State: (515) 281-5204

Renew Your DBA with the State

Your Iowa fictitious name does not expire.

Need Help Filing Your DBA?

Have A Professional Service File Your DBA For You

A professional service will handle filing your DBA on your behalf, allowing you to focus on the other needs of your new business.

We recommend using MyCompanyWorks ($99 + state fee) for a personalized DBA service.

Iowa DBA FAQ

Can I file a DBA online in Iowa?

If you are an incorporated entity, you can file for a fictitious name online at the Secretary of State’s Fast Track Filing website.

How do I change my DBA in Iowa?

You cannot change your DBA without filing a new registration.

For other changes, visit the County recorder’s office to complete an amendment form and pay a filing fee. Contact your county recorder for county-specific instructions for changing your DBA at the county level.

How can I withdraw my DBA?

Contact your county recorder for county-specific instructions for withdrawing your trade name for your unincorporated business.

How often should I renew my Iowa DBA?

Your Iowa DBA doesn’t have to be renewed.

When is a DBA required in Iowa?

A DBA is required whenever a business is operating under a name other than its legal name. In the case of a sole proprietorship, you will need a DBA if you are operating under a name other than your own personal name.

How do I transfer my DBA in Iowa?

Most transfers for unincorporated businesses can be completed by filing an amendment to change the owner’s name.

How many DBAs can I have?

You can have as many DBAs as you can afford to create and are able to keep track of. However, more isn’t necessarily better. Each one will come with additional incremental expense and paperwork, so you will want to make sure you have a good reason for each one you have.

Can a DBA get an EIN or Tax ID?

DBAs aren’t required to have a separate EIN because DBAs aren’t a business entity. The business entity that the DBA is under would have an EIN if an EIN is required.

To learn more about EINs and when you would need one for your business, read What is an EIN from our friends at TRUiC.

Can a DBA become an LLC?

Your DBA is just a name. A DBA is often confused with a sole proprietorship. If you mean “can my sole proprietorship become an LLC?” then the answer is “Yes. Absolutely.”

To learn how to form an LLC, visit our Form an LLC state guides.

Can a DBA have "Inc." in the name?

A DBA can only have "Inc." in the name if the business entity the DBA is attached to is a corporation.

How do I set up a DBA for a rental property?

It’s always best to consult an attorney. Usually, the best option is to form an LLC to protect your personal assets in the event of an issue with the rental property. Holding the rental property in your name and with a DBA will not afford you any protection.

Is my DBA protected from being used in other places?

There are some state-level laws that prevent DBAs that are too similar to existing ones from being used, but this varies from state to state. It is possible to trademark a DBA, which would offer stronger protection across state lines.

Useful Links for Your Iowa DBA