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If you've ever wanted to do business under a different name without needing to create a whole new business, then a DBA is the solution you need. DBA technically stands for "doing business as," but it's typically used to refer to a company's fictitious name. If a restaurant called Marco's Burgers wants to cater events under the name Marco's Catering, for example, then Marco's Catering would be its DBA.
In most cases, though, you can't just use a new DBA whenever you feel like it — you first need to file it with the local or state government. But it can be confusing to determine what your state's specific requirements are, so we've compiled everything you need to know in one place. Here we're answering some of your most pressing questions about DBAs, including how to file a DBA in all 50 states.
How to File a DBA in All 50 States
To find out how to file a DBA in all 50 states, use this drop-down menu. Select your state to get all the information you need:
LLC Annual Report Required?
Corporation Annual Report Required?
Is a DBA State-Specific?
The freedom that states have to make their own laws and choose their own priorities is one of our country's greatest assets. It also makes for great entertainment — in Arizona, for instance, it's illegal to let a donkey sleep in a bathtub (regardless of the donkey's protests).
But those unique laws can also make things that much more difficult for entrepreneurs. So if you ask how to file a DBA in Texas, the answer will be different than if you ask how to file a DBA in California. And while in some states you can be fined hundreds of dollars for failing to file a DBA, in other states (we're looking at you, Kansas), DBAs aren't even permitted or officially recognized to begin with.
What's more, the government agency you're required to file with varies by state too. So although most states ask business owners to send DBA applications to their Secretary of State, others prefer that you file with the Department of Revenue, Department of Commerce, Department of Licensing or local county clerk instead.
How to File a DBA in Texas
When it comes to filing a DBA in Texas, our drop-down menu above will give you all the details. Here's a quick overview:
In Texas, a DBA is referred to as an Assumed Name. It is required if you are operating a business under any name other than your own legal name. You'll file a form with the Texas Secretary of State and pay a $25 filing fee. Submit your form to the P.O. Box listed, in person to the James Earl Rudder Office Building in Austin or via fax. Your Assumed Name will be good for 10 years.
How to File a DBA in California
Need to know how to file a DBA in California? For starters, it is called a Fictitious Business Name (FBN) in California and it is required if you want to operate your business under a different name than your legal name. Each county in California has different fees and forms, so check your county's website. Keep in mind that there's a public notice requirement for filing a DBA in California. This means you'll need to publish your DBA name in a local newspaper once per week for four consecutive weeks.
How to File a DBA in Florida
The Sunshine State calls its DBA a Fictitious Name. In addition to filing your paperwork with the Department of State, you'll need to advertise your chosen DBA name in a newspaper that is located within the county where your business is located. Florida charges a $25 fee and your name registration will be valid for five years. The easiest way to file a DBA in Florida is online, but you can also send it via the mail.
Why File a DBA?
If the process of obtaining a DBA varies so much from state to state and isn't even allowed in some, then what's the point of getting one at all? It turns out there are several benefits, including:
- Compliance: Ongoing compliance is a necessary part of small business ownership, and in your state, that could entail filing a DBA.
- Easy and cheap: If you have an LLC but want to do business under multiple names, filing a DBA is likely far simpler and cheaper than starting multiple new LLCs. In many states, it costs just $25 or less to register a single DBA.
- Prevention of legal headaches: In some states, your business contracts can't be enforced by the authorities if they're conducted under an unregistered DBA. So, filing a DBA could be the difference between getting the money you're owed and being forced to take the loss.
- Market testing: If you suspect that your business might do better if it had a slicker, catchier name, then a DBA can allow you to try out that name and test your theory for very little money and time.
- Claiming a new name: While a DBA doesn't grant you exclusive rights to a business name, it does serve as an official public announcement and record of your intention to operate under that name.
- Facilitating growth: If your business is expanding into new regions or adding new service lines, DBAs make it possible to use the perfect name for every situation.
How to File a DBA with Bizee
Suffice it to say that unlike letting a donkey sleep in your bathtub, the benefits of filing a DBA outweigh any minor drawbacks.
Whether you're testing out a new name, expanding into a new area or simply complying with state requirements, a DBA can help you accomplish your goals and ensure your business is primed for success. And now that you know exactly how to file a DBA in your state, getting one of your own will be a breeze. But, if you want a little help and guidance along the way, Bizee is here to help you obtain your DBA, no matter where you live. Check out our full DBA service.
Carrie Buchholz-Powers is a Colorado-based writer who’s been creating content since 2013. From digital marketing to ecommerce to land conservation, she has experience in a wide range of fields and loves learning about them all. Carrie is fond of history, animals and beauty in equal measure. In her free time, she enjoys knitting, playing video games and exploring Colorado's prairies and mountains with her husband.
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