What is a DBA?
Last Updated: By TRUiC Team
DBA Meaning: DBA stands for "doing business as". A DBA is any registered name a business operates under that isn't its legal name. DBAs are sometimes called a tradename, assumed name, or fictitious name.
Read our What is a DBA guide below to learn what a DBA is and how to get one.
Did you know? A DBA isn't a business structure. A DBA won't protect your personal assets like an LLC or corporation. Learn more in our DBA vs LLC guide.
Reasons to Get a DBA
A DBA isn't required to form or run a business. A DBA is a business name that can be used by any type of business structure to brand or rebrand the business.
There are two main situations where a DBA can be useful:
- You have an LLC or corporation and you'd like to create different brands under the umbrella of your current business structure, or
- You have a sole proprietorship or partnership and would like to operate under a name other than your personal name
Before getting a DBA, we encourage sole proprietors and partnerships to decide if they need liability protection. Read our Should I Start an LLC guide.
If branding is what you need, choose your state below for instructions on How to Get a DBA:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Dakota
- Washington D.C.
- West Virginia
Benefits of Getting a DBA
When used under the right circumstances, a DBA can help with:
- Setting up Multiple Businesses
- Domain Name Availability
If your business offers multiple distinct products or services, registering a DBA can help you highlight and market certain ones in a unique way. If your business is changing directions, you can rebrand with a DBA rather than change the business's legal name.
If you’re operating a sole proprietorship or partnership, you can use a DBA name instead of your surname.
Sole proprietorships and general partnerships are required to use their surnames (last names) as their legal name. If your business is a sole proprietorship and you don't want your name in directories or online, then you can set up a DBA to protect your privacy.
It's important to note that DBA registration is part of the public record. For even greater privacy, a business owner would need to form an LLC.
Setting Up Multiple Businesses Under One LLC
Entrepreneurs who want to create several different businesses can do so under one limited liability company (LLC) by creating DBAs for each brand.
Some banks require sole proprietors and general partnerships to have a DBA in order to open a business account.
Sole proprietors and general partnerships gain more credibility with a business name that isn't their own name. By invoicing, accepting payment, and marketing under your DBA name, you'll build credibility.
Domain Name Availability
Your business name might not be available as a domain name. Some business owners choose to file a DBA that matches their domain name. You can search for domain names on Godaddy.
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Frequently Asked Questions
When Does a DBA Expire?
This depends on your state. Each state has its own set of rules for filing and maintaining DBAs. Your DBA could expire after some number of years or be valid indefinitely.
Is a DBA a Separate Legal Entity?
A DBA is not a separate legal entity. It is simply a nickname for an existing business. So, while you still have to file paperwork to create a DBA, it does not actually create a new business.
How Much Does a DBA Cost?
The cost of registering a doing business as name varies from state to state but usually falls between $10 and $100 for filing.
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 our What is An EIN article.
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".
How Can I Add a DBA to 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.
When is a DBA Required in my State?
If you are operating a sole proprietorship, you will need a doing business as name in order to open a business bank account or accept payments in a name other than your personal name. If you have an LLC or a corporation, you will likely need a DBA if you want to conduct business under a name other than the one you already registered.
However, these rules can vary by state. Check out our How to File a DBA guides to see what the DBA filing regulations are in your business’ home state.
Can a DBA Have Two Owners?
A DBA doesn’t have owner’s per se because a DBA is just a nickname for the main business entity. The main business entity can have two owners depending on the organization’s business structure.
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.
Can a DBA be Transferred?
Most states don’t allow DBAs to be transferred but you can usually change the contact information for the DBA by completing a form and paying a fee.
How many DBA names can I have?
You can have as many DBAs as you want. As long as you file the proper paperwork and pay any required fees, there is no limit on the number of DBAs your business can have. However, keep in mind that each DBA adds a small amount of complexity to your business, so more isn’t always better.
Are DBAs Public Record?
Once a state approves your DBA filing, it is a part of the public record. If you are concerned about privacy, consider forming an LLC and hiring a registered agent service to accept legal documents on your behalf. The registered agent's contact information will be on the public record instead of yours.
Is My DBA Name Protected?
Some states won't approve DBAs that are too similar to existing ones. This limited protection would end at the state’s border. However, it is possible to trademark a doing business as name, which would offer protection across state lines.
You can search the U.S. trademark database for your DBA name.