The acronym “DBA” stands for “Doing Business As” and allows your business to operate under a different legal name. If you run a sole proprietorship or partnership, the legal name of your business is, by default, your actual name. If you have an LLC or Corporation, your legal name is the company name that you registered with the state. Here’s a quick breakdown:
- If you are operating a Sole Proprietorship (a.k.a. the sole owner of your business), the legal name of the business is your full birth name.
- If you are operating a Partnership, the legal name of the business is the name given in your Partnership Agreement or, if this does not exist, the last names of the partners of the Partnership.
- For LLCs (Limited Liability Companies) and Corporations, the business’ legal name is the one that was registered with the state government.
If you would like to continue operating your business as a sole proprietorship or partnership but do not want your legal business name to be your actual name (e.g. – John Smith), you can register a DBA or “Doing Business As” name. If you have already formed an LLC or corporation, you can change the name that your company operates under by filing a DBA with the state that you registered your business in.
In short, a DBA (“Doing Business As”) name, also known as a fictitious name, is a business name that you create that is different from your personal name (Sole Proprietorship), the names of your partners (Partnership) or the officially registered name of your LLC or corporation. Like LLC’s and Corporation registration, DBA names must be registered through your state government.
Filing for a DBA can be a complicated process, and we suggest you let the professionals at LegalZoom.com or other affordable legal services providers handle your registration and ALL of the paperwork – click here to file your DBA with LegalZoom. If you wish to handle the paperwork for your DBA (“Doing Business As” or fictitious name) registration by yourself, we have provided a list below that breaks down each state’s DBA registration requirements and have linked to each state’s online registration website.
|State||DBA Filing Requirements|
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Alabama does not require businesses to register a fictitious name. Businesses may elect to register a trade name with the Secretary of State.
The registration of trade names is not required in Arizona but is an accepted business practice that can help you avoid another business from using your business name. Trade names are registered with the Secretary of State.
Any sole proprietorship or general partnership operating under a name other than the owners must file a Doing Business Under an Assumed Name Certificate.
Domestic and foreign corporations must file an Application for Fictitious Name with the Secretary of State. Domestic corporations must also register with the county clerk of the county in which the corporation’s registered office is located (unless it is located in Pulaski County). Fees vary depending on the entity.
Individuals or entities doing business for profit under a name different from the owner(s) full legal name(s) must file a Fictitious Name Statement with the registrar-recorder/county clerk office in the county where the business resides.
Any person doing business in Connecticut under any name other than their own, must either register a trade name in the town where their business is conducted or register with the Connecticut Secretary of State as a corporation.
For sole proprietorships and general partnerships, Fictitious Name Certificates are registered in the Superior Court Prothonotary’s office in the county where you are doing business.
New Castle County Fictitious Name Certificate
District of Columbia
Individuals, corporations or partnerships may register a business name (trade name) different from the entity’s true name. However, you do not need to register the name used for your corporation, partnership, or LLC as your trade name, since it is considered your true name.
All Florida businesses operating under a fictitious name must register with the Division Corporations, Online Fictitious Name Registration.
Individuals or entities doing business under a name different from the owner(s) full legal name(s) must complete a Trade Name Filing with the Clerk of Superior Court in the county where the business is principally located.
If you incorporate your business with the Secretary of State, registering a corporate name does not control the use of fictitious or trade names, and issuance of a corporate name does not affect the commercial availability of the name.
When a business name is different from the owner(s) full legal name(s), the Illinois Assumed Name Act requires sole proprietorships and general partnerships to register with their local county clerk’s office. Corporations, LLCs, LLPs, and limited partnerships register an assumed name as part of their required business filings with the Illinois Secretary of State.
If a business is using a name other than its official name, it must file a Certificate of Assumed Business Name with the county recorder of each county in which it has a place of business, and with the Secretary of State. Sole proprietorships and general partnerships need only file with the County Recorder’s office.
Sole proprietorships and general partnerships doing business under an assumed name must file a Trade Name Report with the local county recorder’s office. This rule does not apply to corporations, LLCs, LLPs, and limited partnerships registered with the Iowa Secretary of State.
The State of Kansas does not require a business to register an assumed business name.
The process for obtaining a DBA in Kentucky starts with a business name search to determine whether the name you want is actually available for your use. Once you’ve done that, you can fill out the state’s Certificate of Assumed Name.
Sole proprietorships and general partnerships operating under an assumed name must register with the Parish Clerk of Court office where the business is located.
You may download the Application to Register a Trade Name, get it notarized, and submit it to your Parish Clerk of Court office.
Corporations, nonprofits, LLCs, LLPs, and limited partnerships must submit the application to the Louisiana Secretary of State.
Sole proprietorships and general partnerships doing business under an assumed name are required to file a certificate with the municipal or town clerk where the business is located.
Corporations, LLCs, LLPs, and limited partnerships register a Statement of Intention to do Business under an Assumed or Fictitious Name with the Maine Secretary of State.
Addresses and phone numbers for help applying for a trade name in Maryland can be found on the Trade Name Registration Info page.
|The first step is to search several databases to see if the name you want is available. First, you’ll need to search the state’s business name database, and then, you have to search the reserved names database to make sure no business in this state has reserved the name for future use. After that, you will need to find and search your city’s business certificate database to ensure the name is available for local registration.|
Sole proprietorships and general partnerships using a business name other than the legal names of the owner(s) must file an Assumed Name Certificate with the county clerk under which the person(s) will do business. Corporations, LLCs, LLPs, and limited partnerships register an assumed name as part of their required business filings with the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA).
Minnesota Secretary of State
The State of Mississippi does not require a business to register an assumed business name.
Missouri law requires any person or business entity which transacts business in the state under a name other than their own “true name” to register that business name with the Missouri Secretary of State as a Fictitious Name Registration.
Montana Secretary of State
Nebraska Secretary of State
All persons and entities doing business in the state of Nevada under an assumed or fictitious name that is different from the legal name must file a Fictitious Firm Name Certificate with the county clerk of each county where the business is being conducted.
New Hampshire Secretary of State
Sole proprietorships and general partnerships doing business under an assumed name should register with the county clerk office where business will be conducted. Contact information for each county can be found on the New Jersey Division of Elections page.
Registration of Alternate Name document
The State of New Mexico does not require a business to register an assumed business name.
Sole proprietorships using a name other than the owner’s name should file a Business Certificate with the county clerk’s office in the county where the business is located.
General partnerships operating a business under an assumed name should file a Business Certificate for Partners with the county clerk’s office in the county where the business is located.
Requires forms to be filed at the County Register of Deeds Office in the county in which your business is conducted.
North Dakota Secretary of State
Ohio Secretary of State
Oklahoma Secretary of State
Oregon Secretary of State
Pennsylvania Department of State
Businesses in Puerto Rico can register both their trademark and trade name (i.e. fictitious name) through the Department of State’s Registry of Marks and Commercial Names.
Registro de marcas y nombres comerciales (registry of marks and commercial names)
The process for obtaining a DBA in Rhode Island begins with a search of the state’s business database to ensure that the fictitious name you want to register is available. Once you’ve determined the name’s eligibility, you can move on to fill out the Fictitious Business Name Statement.
Businesses operating under an fictitious or assumed name are not are required to register with a government agency.
Only foreign businesses may adopt a fictitious name. A fictitious name can be obtained for a foreign (out of state) business that is authorized to transact business in the state if its legal entity name is already registered in South Carolina. Visit the South Carolina Secretary of State for more information.
South Dakota Secretary of State
|The process for obtaining a DBA in Tennessee starts with searching the state’s business database to make sure the name you want is available. Once you’ve determined the name’s eligibility, you can fill out the state’s Assumed Name Registration form.|
All businesses in Texas operating under an assumed name must file an Assumed Name Certificate with the county clerk’s office in the county where the business is primarily located.
Corporations, LLCs, LLPs and limited partnerships must file an Assumed Name Certificate with the Texas Secretary of State in addition to a separate Assumed Name Certificate with the county where the main office of the registered business is located.
U.S. Virgin Islands
Lieutenant Governor of the Virgin Islands
All Utah businesses operating under an assumed name must file a Business Name Registration/DBA Application. Visit these resources for more information.
Vermont Secretary of State
If business is conducted in Virginia under a name other than the legal business name, an assumed or fictitious name certificate must be filed in each county or city where business is to be conducted. In addition, if the entity is a limited partnership, a limited liability company or a corporation, it must obtain a copy of each fictitious name certificate, attested by the Clerk of the Circuit Court where the original was filed, and file it with the Clerk of the State Corporation Commission.
Read the Virginia Business Registration Guide for more information on business registration requirements for all types of legal entities.
The process for obtaining a DBA in Washington starts with a search of the state’s business database to make sure the name you want isn’t already registered by a formal business entity. If the name you want is available, you can move on to filling out the Business License Application form, as Washington groups DBA names in with the business licensing process
West Virginia Secretary of State
State of Wisconsin
All businesses may reserve or register a trade name with the Wyoming Department of State.