DBA Compliance

A doing business as (DBA) name is an additional business name. Registering a DBA allows your business to operate under multiple names while maintaining a single legal entity.

If you are looking to outsource your DBA filings, Harbor Compliance can help. With our Managed DBA services, you can expect worry-free compliance and responsive solutions. Our compliance specialists understand your goals and can manage the regulatory tasks to get you there.

What Is a DBA?

Your DBA is the name your business is referred to both legally and by consumers. A DBA has a few aliases, including fictitious business name , assumed name, and trade name. A DBA allows an organization to legally conduct business in a location using a name that is not the "true name" of the legal entity.

You need to fill out specific paperwork and pay a filing fee when you file a DBA. You can do all of this with a local or county agency, but some states require you to file with a state agency instead of, or in addition to, the county. Some states and counties might also require you to publish notice a local newspaper, giving the public awareness that you have filed a DBA.

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Where Are DBAs Required?

9 States Do Not Require DBA Registration
13 States (and D.C.) Require Inital Registration but Doesn't Require Renewal
28 States Require Initial Registration and Renewal

Adhering to DBA requirements is key to ensuring you can choose the name of your business that you present to the public. The need for a DBA is closely related to the type of business structure under which you operate. Typically, there are two reasons a business in the US would need to get a DBA:

Sole Proprietorships and General Partnerships

If you operate as a sole proprietor or general partnership, you'll need to file a DBA if your business has a different name than your own name. Sole proprietorships and general partnerships are unincorporated ways to conduct business, which means they don't need to file legal entity formation papers or a business entity name with the state. Essentially, the business owner and the business are one and the same entity, which means they have the same name, too — unless they file a DBA.

Corporations and Limited Liability Companies (LLCs)

If you have filed to become a corporation or LLC, you only need to file a DBA if you plan to conduct business using a different name from the name you filed with your formation paperwork.

Adopting and Managing a DBA

The process of adopting an assumed name varies by where you operate, but registrations are typically filed with the Secretary of State or at the county level. The majority of states that require registration of assumed names also require renewal of assumed name registration. Typically, assumed names need to be renewed every five years, but states have renewal cycles ranging from every one to ten years.

At Harbor Compliance, our DBA specialists can handle your project from conception through maintenance. Not only can we provide information on registration requirements across state lines, but we can check name availability, prepare and file DBA registration, track renewals, and prepare and file renewals as needed.

Explore DBA Requirements by State

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