Register a DBA in Washington State
Registering a Washington trade name, also known as a DBA, is easy!
A DBA is only used for branding. A DBA doesn't offer any protection for your personal assets in the event that your business is sued. For this reason, we strongly recommend that a DBA should only be used by a formal business structure such as an LLC or corporation for the purpose of adding new brands to an existing business.
If you are running an informal business (sole proprietorship or partnership), we strongly suggest forming an LLC to separate your business and personal assets. The name of the LLC can be selected to act as the brand name for the business.
Learn How to File a DBA in Washington State yourself in two steps:
Note: A DBA is only used for branding. We recommend forming an LLC to separate your business and personal assets.
Step 1. Start with a Washington Trade Name Search
When you register your Washington trade name, you are essentially letting other business owners know that the name is in use. Your trade name isn’t protected from being used by others. The next step is to check to see if your Washington trade name is unique and also meets Washington’s business name requirements.
First, visit the Washington Department of Revenue’s Business Lookup website and search for your new DBA name to make sure it isn’t already in use.
Next, review the Washington naming requirements. In Washington, trade names should NOT include:
- Any business entity suffix, such as LLC, Incorporated, Corp, etc., unless the business is actually an LLC, corporation, or etc.
- Any of the following words or phrases: bank, banking, banker, trust, cooperative, any combination of the words "industrial" and "loan," any combination of any two or more of the words "building," "savings," "loan," "home," "association," and "society," or any other words or phrases prohibited by any Washington state statute.
We recommend checking if your name is available as a web domain (URL). You might not plan on starting a business website today, but you may want to prevent others from acquiring your URL.
Find a Domain Now
Once you reserve a domain name for your DBA, consider setting up a business phone system to help strengthen your customer service and boost credibility. We recommend Phone.com because of its affordable pricing and variety of useful features. Start calling with Phone.com.
Need Help Creating a Brand Name and Logo?
Step 2. Register Your Washington DBA
Your Washington trade name can be filed online or by mail with the Department of Revenue. You can file online with the Washington Department of Revenue’s website or you can complete the Business License Application.
The application will ask for your new DBA name and information about your business, such as:
- Ownership structure
- Unified Business Identifier (UBI)
- Business opening date and place of incorporation
- Estimated gross annual income
- Date of first employment
A DBA does not offer any legal protection for your personal assets in the event that your business is sued. For more information on setting up a limited liability company, visit our How to Form an LLC page and select your state.
Option 1: File Online on the Department of Revenue’s Website
- OR -
Option 2: File the Business License Application by Mail or In-Person
$24 Filing Fee ($19 Business License Application fee + $5 trade name fee)
In-Person Delivery Address:
Check the Department of Revenue’s website for in-person delivery locations
State of Washington
Business Licensing Service
P.O. Box 9034
Olympia, WA 98507-9034
Manage Your Washington Trade Name
Call the Washington Business Licensing Service: 1-800-451-7985
Renew Your Trade Name With the State
Your Washington trade name does not expire.
Withdraw Your Trade Name
You can cancel your trade name online or by completing the business information change form. You can also email BLS@dor.wa.gov or fax the Business Licensing Service at (360) 705-6699 to request cancellation.
If you want to use a professional service to get a DBA for your business we recommend:
Swyft Filings ($99 + state fee)
After Filing Your Washington DBA
If filing a DBA marks the beginning of your business journey, then there are a few more steps that you should take before getting started:
- Create your Business’s Website - Every business needs a website. Luckily, drag-and-drop builders like GoDaddy and Wix make the job quick and easy. Check out our Best Website Builder article to find the tool that’s best for you.
- Get your Business Finances in Order - You’ll need to separate your business finances from your personal ones. This is accomplished by opening a business bank account. If your business has long lead times or other cash flow irregularities, you can also look into a business credit card.
- Protect Your Business - While an LLC will help to protect your personal assets in the case of a lawsuit, your business’s assets also need protection. Having the right business insurance will ensure that you’re covered if the worst happens. Most businesses start with general liability insurance as their base coverage.
DBA Washington FAQ
How many DBAs can I have?
You can have as many DBAs as you can afford to create and are able to keep track of. Each one comes with additional incremental expenses and paperwork, meaning more is not necessarily better.
Can a DBA get an EIN or Tax ID?
DBAs aren’t required to have a separate EIN because DBAs aren’t a business entity. The business entity that the DBA is under would have an EIN if an EIN is required.
To learn more about EINs and when you need one for your business, read our What is an EIN guide.
Can a DBA become an LLC?
No. An LLC is a business entity, while a DBA is just a name for a business.
Sole proprietorships are often confused with DBAs, but they are not the same: a sole proprietorship is a business entity, therefore it can choose to become an LLC.
To learn how to form an LLC, visit our Form an LLC state guides.
Can a DBA have Inc. in the name?
A DBA can only have Inc. in the name if the business entity the DBA is attached to is a corporation.
How do I set up a DBA for a rental property?
Holding a rental property in your name and with a DBA will not afford you any protection. The best option is to form an LLC to protect your personal assets in the event of an issue with the rental property. In any case, it is always best to consult an attorney.
When would it be good to get a DBA versus a legal name change?
Getting a DBA is often a better choice than changing your business’s legal name. If you want to rebrand your company or focus on another line of business, filing for a DBA is a simpler process than filing for a legal name change.
Is my DBA protected from being used in other places?
Some state-level laws prevent DBAs that are too similar to existing ones from being used, but this varies from state to state. It is possible to trademark a DBA, which would offer stronger protection across state lines.