Doing Business As (DBA): what does it mean?

“Doing Business As” refers to a pseudonym used by your business. Businesses operate under names that are different from their legal names. In some states, the paperwork required to operate under a different name is called a “fictitious name filing.” In order to use a different name, companies need to submit an application and confirm that no other business is already using it. “DBA” or “d/b/a” is the common designation for doing business as in North America. But in other countries, “trading as” is more common, with “t/a” as the abbreviation DBA filings are not required by all companies, however.

DBAs: Who Needs One?

DBAs are most commonly filed by sole proprietorships. Sole proprietorships do not need to submit DBA forms if they use their own name, such as Sue Smith’s Styling Salon. In your business, you are acting as yourself. This is a non-issue.

Is there a deadline for filing?

To make it clear to the state, and your customers, who is behind your business, you will need to file DBA forms if you intend to operate under a name other than your own, such as City Styling Salon or The Final Cut. The purpose of these forms is to ensure customers know who the business owner is.

DBA for your corporation

Partnerships, LLCs, and corporations may also do business under a name other than their legal name. It’s common for franchisees to operate under a different name than their parent company. Wendy’s franchisees in Delaware, for example, might operate as Brandywine Burgers. DBAs can also be filed for newly created business units within corporations that have slightly different missions or products in order to indicate their relationship to the parent corporation. The Cream of the Crop would be the name given to the ice cream business spun off from Veggies R Us. Since the name used is different from that of its parent corporation, Cream of the Crop would need a DBA filing.

Where is the best place to file a DBA?

DBA filings are usually filed at the county courthouse and can cost between $25 and $100.

Check here for more information about where to file.


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