Filing a DBA Name

To do business under a DBA, you must complete and file the appropriate DBA forms and pay a filing fee, after which point you receive a DBA certificate. Depending on the state, you may be able to file with a local or county clerk's office, with a state agency, or both.

How Do You File a DBA Name?

DBA requirements vary by state, county, locality, and business structure. Registering a DBA typically involves paperwork and filing fees. You'll either go to your county clerk's office to file your paperwork, or you'll do so with your state government. Several states require you to register a DBA with more than one level of government. For example, a general partnership may have to file at the state and county level in one state, while another state may require that same general partnership to file with just the county.

In some states, you might also have to place a fictitious name ad in a local newspaper for a certain amount of time. This fulfills some states' public notice requirement and gives the local area an official announcement of your business name.

One logistical restriction to note: Your "doing business as" name can't have a corporate ending such as "Inc," "LLC," or "Corp." These endings give the impression that your business is a corporation or has some corporate status when it doesn't. However, other than that, there aren't any restrictions on what you can file as your DBA name. It's probably best to do a simple business name search within your jurisdiction to ensure no other business has your DBA name.


Can You File for a DBA Online?

Some states will allow you to file your paperwork online, and others want notarized documents. In terms of payment, you may be able to pay online or your state may require a money order or cashier's check.

What Happens If You Operate Under an Assumed Name Without Filing?

If you operate under an assumed name that has not been registered, you can get hit with significant fines from your regulating agency. Ensuring compliance with DBA regulations allows your business to continue to operate in good standing.

Do You Have to Renew a DBA?

In many states, you must renew after a set amount of time. Be sure to stay on top of when you must renew your DBA, as letting it lapse can severely impact your business from a marketing perspective. If you are looking to outsource your DBA renewal management, Harbor Compliance can help.

When Do You Need to File a New DBA?

Certain states also require you to file a new DBA if the information provided in the original filing changes, such as a change in officers for a corporation, partners for a general partnership, or members for an LLC. Note that you can file an amendment in some states under these circumstances.

Do I Need an Attorney to File a DBA?

It is not necessary to hire an attorney to help you file in most cases. The process is simple enough that most business owners can handle it independently. However, if you're confused about the process or have a more complicated business situation, it's always good to seek professional help.

What Happens After You File a DBA?

Filing a DBA name isn't hard — you just need to work within your state’s or county's requirements to go about it the right way. It's usually best to get this all done before you operate under your intended "doing business as" name, somewhere between 30 and 60 days before you open your doors.

Depending on your jurisdiction, you'll usually hear back with approval in one to four weeks. Once you've been approved for your DBA name, you're all set to start operating your business — meaning you can open your doors, take on new clients, and set up your business bank account.

After that, make sure you're staying compliant by operating under your business name and checking with your state government offices to see if you need an annual renewal.

Outsource Your DBA Management to Harbor Compliance

Your business name is a valuable asset that you want to protect. Using a DBA name can be an essential part of your business strategy. And if so, making the appropriate filing to register the DBA name and ensuring the registration does not expire are crucial steps.

If you are looking to outsource your DBA filings, Harbor Compliance can help. With our Managed DBA services, you can expect:

  • Worry-Free Compliance. Forget navigating state websites, agonizing over government forms, and tracking renewal due dates. Leave the paperwork to us.
  • Responsive Service. Our one-day onboarding, precision file preparation, and expedited filing options set the bar for prompt, responsive service.
  • Total Solutions. In addition to DBA management, our specialists can manage entities, business licensing, tax registration, and more.

With Harbor Compliance, you're partnering with a team of compliance specialists who understand your goals and can manage the regulatory tasks to get you there. Contact us today to learn more.

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