Do I need to file a DBA?

When considering if you need to file a DBA, here is what you should know

A DBA (Doing Business As) can be used by both formal and informal business structures. An informal business structure is a sole proprietorship or a partnership while a formal business structure is a Limited Liability Company (LLC) or a Corporation.

Do I need to file a DBA if I own a sole proprietorship or a general partnership?

If you own a sole proprietorship you and your business are considered one thus your business name is your surname. If you want to have a name other than your surname you need to file a doing business as application.

A general partnership’s legal name is the combination of the surnames of each individual included in the partnership. If you choose to change your preexisting legal name to a new name, then you need to file a DBA. Also in some states such as New York, a general partnership is required by law to file a doing business as application, so you should check what requirements and restrictions may apply in your state.

Both sole proprietorships and general partnerships alike can file a doing business as for privacy reasons -If you don’t want your business to be associated with your surname or your partners’ surnames. Also it can offer more credibility by providing you with a business name other than your last name.

Does a formal business structure, such as an LLC or a Corporation need to file a DBA?

If your business is looking to rebrand by using a completely new name, an acronym or a shortened version of your existing name then you can file a DBA which is a much more straightforward and inexpensive process than filing for a legal name change.

A DBA can also be useful If you want to expand your company by adding new brands that you want to keep separate by creating individual DBAs for each one while at the same time keeping them all under the same LLC.

Noteworthy points to consider when filing a DBA:

  • DBAs are useful for banking as they allow you to accept payments under your new business name and open a bank account under that name as well which you wouldn’t be able to do without one.
  • You can have any number of DBAs under a Limited Liability Company but the more DBAs you have doesn’t mean that you would automatically be gaining any sort of advantage as your company will still be liable for all of them.
  • DBA’s are not separate from your business – your company is liable for anything that happens to each DBA, any debts incurred are the liability of your business.
  • When a business files a DBA, taxes remain unaffected as you will only use your legal name on any tax documents and not your assumed name.
  • A doing business as can also be beneficial for branding and marketing purposes, helping boost overall business growth
  • It’s important for a business to have substantial online presence – meaning that a brand or company can be easily found online. Many companies choose to file a DBA in order to match their business name to their domain name if it is not the same, thus increasing credibility and brand awareness.
  • A DBA does not operate as a legal entity thus it does not offer any liability or asset protection. If you need to be covered for liability maybe a better choice to consider would be an LLC.

If you need more help on the subject TRUiC has some invaluable resources and online tools that can provide you with information on how to file a DBA while adhering to state specific requirements. Be sure to visit their site:

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