How to File a DBA in Pennsylvania

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Filing a Pennsylvania DBA, also known as a fictitious name, is a simple process that you complete with the Pennsylvania Department of State.

Our How to File a DBA in Pennsylvania 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

Use our free guide below to file for a DBA in Pennsylvania:

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.

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How to Set up a DBA in Pennsylvania

Step 1: Start With a Pennsylvania DBA Name Search

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.

When filing a DBA in PA, your fictitious name should not include:

  • Any business entity suffix, such as LLC, Incorporated, Corp., etc unless the business is actually an LLC, corporation, or etc.
  • Any words related to banking, education, or certain professional services without proper approval.

You can read more about Pennsylvania business name restrictions here.

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.

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 Pennsylvania DBA

In Pennsylvania, you register your DBA with the secretary of state. You must complete the Registration of Fictitious Name form and then either file it online or by mail.

The application will ask for your new DBA name and information about your business, such as:

  • Section 2: Brief description of the business
  • Section 4: Names and addresses of individuals interested in the business
  • Section 5: Names and addresses of entities (other than individuals) interested in the business
  • Section 7: Names of anyone authorized to amend or cancel the registration on behalf of the existing parties

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.


Submit Your Application Form

File Online

Mail

Pennsylvania Department of State
Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations
P.O. Box 8722
Harrisburg, PA 17105-8722

Fees

  • $70 Filing Fee

Manage Your Pennsylvania DBA

DBA Questions

Call the Pennsylvania Corporation Bureau: 717-787-1057

Renew Your DBA with the State

Your Pennsylvania fictitious name does not need to be renewed.

Change Your DBA

To make changes to your fictitious name, fill out this form. The fee is $70. File the completed form online here or mail it to:

Pennsylvania Department of State
Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations
P.O. Box 8722
Harrisburg, PA 17105-8722

Withdraw Your DBA

To withdraw to your fictitious name, fill out this form. The fee is $70. File the completed form online here or mail it to:

Pennsylvania Department of State
Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations
P.O. Box 8722
Harrisburg, PA 17105-8722

Step 3: Publish a Notice for Your DBA

Any business that includes an individual party (rather than being owned by a corporation, LLC, etc.) must publish notice that it has filed or intends to file for a fictitious name.

In other words, if there are one or more individuals listed in Box 4 of the Registration of Fictitious Name form, then you need to advertise.

The advertisement should be placed in at least two newspapers in the business’ home county (unless there is only one paper in the county - in that case, one is sufficient). You can find a list of approved newspapers here.

The published notice must include the following:

  • The fictitious name being registered
  • The business address
  • The names and addresses of any individuals party to the registration
  • A statement that the name is being filed under 54 Pa.C.S.

You can find detailed information about publishing notice of your fictitious name here.

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.

Pennsylvania DBA FAQ

Can I file a DBA online in Pennsylvania?

You can file your DBA online by filling out this form and submitting it here.

How do I change my DBA in Pennsylvania?

To make changes to your fictitious name, fill out this form. The fee is $70. File the completed form online here or mail it to:

Pennsylvania Department of State
Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations
P.O. Box 8722
Harrisburg, PA 17105-8722

How can I withdraw my DBA?

To withdraw to your fictitious name, fill out this form. The fee is $70. File the completed form online here or mail it to:

Pennsylvania Department of State
Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations
P.O. Box 8722
Harrisburg, PA 17105-8722

How often should I renew my Pennsylvania DBA?

Your Pennsylvania DBA does not need to be renewed.

When is a DBA required in Pennsylvania?

Any individual, sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, limited liability company or other forms of association conducting commercial activities under a name other than their real or proper name must register this name with the Pennsylvania Department of State.

How do I transfer my DBA in Pennsylvania?

To transfer your fictitious name, fill out this form. The fee is $70. File the completed form online here or mail it to:

Pennsylvania Department of State
Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations
P.O. Box 8722
Harrisburg, PA 17105-8722

Is my Pennsylvania DBA protected from being used in other places?

Registration of a fictitious name does not create any exclusive right to use the fictitious name. There are no ownership rights to a fictitious name. Other individuals or entities may register the same fictitious name. A fictitious name registration is not a trademark or copyright. It is possible to create a federal trademark for a DBA, which would offer stronger protection across state lines.

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.

Useful Links for Your Pennsylvania DBA