How to Add a DBA to an LLC

A DBA, often referred to as a fictitious business name, presents lots of opportunities for branding or marketing purposes. It provides your LLC with a distinctive DBA name, separate from its business registered name.

This small shift can have a profound impact on how your LLC conducts business, fostering an environment where creativity and innovation thrive. 

When asked if it is easier to add a DBA or start a separate LLC, our team of financial advisors usually recommends the first option, as it is easier to conduct business when you are dealing with two names than two limited liability companies.

But this process itself requires attention – that’s why we put together this guide to help you add an assumed name. Let’s dive into the world of DBA usage, legal paperwork, and business regulation, all under the LLC umbrella.

Brief Overview

  • ‘Doing Business As’ means that a business entity intends to operate under a different company name.
  • Steps for adding a DBA to an LLC include name selection, compliance with local regulations, form completion, and potential trademarking.
  • Advantages of a DBA include simplified administration, improved marketing, projecting business identity, and highlighting locality.

How to File for a DBA

To file a DBA, typically, you need to choose a name, ensure its availability, complete a registration form, and submit it to the appropriate state or local agency. Fees and requirements vary by jurisdiction. Check local guidelines for a smooth process.

Let’s take a closer look at the steps:

  1. Decide on a Business Name for Your DBA 

First and foremost, we encourage all our customers to select a suitable name for their DBA. This trade name should uniquely represent your business activities and differentiate your LLC from others in the same state where your company operates.

  1. Learn About DBA Requirements 

Before you add a DBA to your LLC, familiarize yourself with the specific requirements and regulations in your county or state. As we helped LLCs from different jurisdictions, we noticed that the rules vary from one state to another. For instance, we discovered that in Nevada, you are required to file a fictitious name registration with the county clerk’s office. 

  1. Conduct a Business Name Search 

To ensure that you are not using the same DBA as another company in your state, conduct a thorough LLC name search. We usually use government websites, but there are also online tools that can assist you in this search. This step is crucial to avoid any potential legal issues with other businesses that might have the same name for their business. 

  1. Complete Necessary Forms 

Upon selection of your DBA and verifying its uniqueness, your next step is to file a DBA form. These documents, available at your local county office or state agency, include your legal name, the name of your LLC, and your chosen DBA. Every time we filed DBA forms, we also had to pay a filing fee, so keep this in mind.

  1. Secure Business Licenses and Registrations 

Depending on your locale and industry, you may need to secure a specific business license. Also, if you plan to open a separate bank account for your DBA, we found that some banks require proof of your DBA registration. 

  1. Publish Notice of Your New DBA 

In some jurisdictions, you’re required to publish a notice of your new DBA in a local newspaper. This advertisement serves as a public announcement of your intent to conduct business under a fictitious name, allowing potential claimants to object. 

  1. Keep Track of Renewal Requirements 

Once you’ve successfully registered your trade name, remember to keep track of renewal deadlines. Some jurisdictions, like California and Texas, require DBA renewals every few years, while others may have different timelines. Staying on top of these deadlines ensures your fictitious name remains valid and legal. 

  1. Consider Trademarking Your DBA Name 

Finally, we recommend to protect your fictitious name by trademarking it. This gives you exclusive rights to use that name for marketing and advertising purposes, offering you legal protection from competitors who might want to use a similar name. 

What does DBA mean?

DBA, standing for “doing business as”, is a term that allows a company to operate under a different name than its legal entity. This is particularly useful for businesses intending to present themselves under a brand name that differs from their registered LLC name.

For example, a limited liability company (LLC) registered as ABC Enterprises LLC might wish to operate under the more customer-friendly name of “Sunny Day Innovations”. They would achieve this by registering a DBA. 

Where to Register a DBA

A common misconception many business owners hold is that registering a DBA is a complicated process. However, our expert analysis indicates that, with some basic knowledge and the right resources, it can be a relatively straightforward task. 

Firstly, the appropriate government agency where you need to register your DBA varies depending on the jurisdiction. We found that, in some cases, the county agency handles the DBA registration.

However, in other states, the secretary of state’s office is responsible for these filings. 

  • County-level: If the county where your LLC operates is where you will register your DBA. You can typically find the required forms on the county’s official website or at the local office of the U.S. Small Business Administration.
  • State level: Some states require that DBAs be registered with the state’s office. You can usually search online for the form on the state’s website.

Many online platforms also aid in the DBA registration process. These sites can save you time by completing the filing process on your behalf, ensuring your documents are correctly filed with the appropriate government agency.

Related Article: What is the Maximum Number of DBAs Allowed for an LLC?

Benefits of Adding a DBA

There are numerous benefits to adding a DBA to your LLC. Let’s delve into these advantages:

  1. Simplifying Administration for Multiple Businesses: A DBA allows you to manage various business ventures under a single LLC. For instance, a business owner may run an Italian restaurant and a bakery under the same business entity without forming separate LLCs. This simplifies administrative tasks like filing taxes and renewing licenses, saving time, and reducing filing fees.
  2. Gaining a Marketing Edge: A DBA can enhance branding and customer appeal. ‘Incredible Italian’ can appeal more to patrons than ‘XYZ LLC.’ A study published in the Journal of Retail revealed that consumers with limited knowledge are significantly swayed by factors such as brand name, along with price reductions, and perceived quality.
  3. Projecting Business Identity: A DBA can better reflect your business’s core identity. For example, ‘Affordable Auto Repair’ provides consumers a better idea of what the business offers compared to ‘John Doe LLC’.
  4. Highlighting Locality: A localized DBA can resonate with local customers. ‘Ohio Organic Orchards’ might attract Ohio residents passionate about supporting local businesses and organic farming practices. According to a study in the Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, consumers showed a 60% higher interest in businesses with locality highlighted in their name.

However, in our hands-on exploration, we found one LLC can have multiple DBAs, each operating under different names, offering various services, while still providing the same liability protection to the owner’s personal assets.

This advantage can help entrepreneurs streamline their ventures, saving money on additional costs that might be associated with forming separate LLCs.

Do You Need Help with Your LLC’s DBA?

Adding a DBA, or ‘Doing Business As’, to your LLC is an essential step in establishing a separate legal entity for your business. It allows your company to operate under a different name from the legal business entity registered with the state.

This could be advantageous for branding, legal documents, and even opening your own bank account under the DBA name.

Considering the complexity and possible legal repercussions of adding a DBA to an LLC, it’s perfectly normal to feel overwhelmed. But don’t worry, you’re not alone in this process. In our experience, many small business owners have found the process much more manageable with the right assistance. 

One trusted resource worth considering is Incfile. Incfile has been a reliable authority in the field of LLC formation and DBA filing services. It has a unique, user-friendly platform that guides you step-by-step through the process, ensuring your compliance with state and local agencies.

They also offer a variety of other business legal services that could be beneficial to your LLC. 

Thomas Wilson

Thomas Wilson

An accomplished business guru, our CEO holds a degree from Philadelphia's esteemed Fox School of Business, accredited by AACSB. With a knack for practicality, they've orchestrated the launch of diverse small enterprises and guided fellow entrepreneurs in optimizing their ventures. Trust their seasoned insights for invaluable advice tailored to new businesses and LLCs.