What is a DBA (Doing Business As)?

A DBA (Doing Business As) is a registration for a company conducting business under a different name than the name under which it was formed.

DBAs are also sometimes referred to as an “assumed name,” a “fictitious business name,” or a “trade name.” 

A majority of states in the US require corporations and LLCs to do business under the name on the formation document. So, the point of a DBA is to notify the public that a person or a business is doing business under a name other than its legally registered name. 

LLCs, corporations, partnerships – all types of businesses can register a DBA. Once a DBA registration is completed for an organization, the company can use that secondary name (the DBA) to open a bank account, write checks, enter contracts and do almost anything a normal organization would do under its original name. 

Some businesses seek a DBA in order to do a new line of business that’s not currently reflected by the existing legal name. Some organizations have difficult legal names that may be very long or challenging to pronounce – a DBA can help create a more memorable (or shorter) name. 

Procedures for filing a DBA are different in every state (and occasionally county by county). For some, all an entity must do is pay a registration fee to a county clerk. Some states are a bit more nuanced, however, and they require announcements with a local newspaper or publication in order to provide public notice of the DBA filing. Some states also only offer DBAs for a limited amount of time. The cost of the filing fees for a DBA filing typically ranges from $10 to $100 or more. 

Note that registering and doing business under a DBA is not the same as forming a business or a business entity. In order to get limited liability protection, an entity must form an LLC, LP, LLP or a corporation in order to grant the owner (or owners) protection – which is one of the biggest benefits to forming a company.