How to Register a DBA in Iowa

An Iowa DBA (doing business as) is called an assumed name. Getting an Iowa DBA registration won’t protect your personal assets. Forming a formal business structure like LLC or corporation will give you liability protection along with a business name.

Forming an LLC is the best choice for most small businesses. Learn more in our DBA vs LLC guide.

To get started with an Iowa DBA, choose your business entity type:


File an Iowa DBA for a Sole Proprietorship or General Partnership

General partnerships and sole proprietors are required to file their Iowa DBA with the County Recorder in the county that their business is located. Estates and real estate investment companies are also required to file with the county.

A general partnership is a business formed by two or more people, without a formal business structure. A sole proprietorship is a business owned by a single individual that isn't formally organized. In either case, the name of the business is the same as the name of the owners. A DBA can be useful in these cases for changing the name of the business to a more marketable name.

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.

Use our How to Get a DBA in Iowa guide below to register an Iowa assumed name for your business. For a look at DBA filing in another state, check out our other step-by-step How to Get a DBA guides.

Step 1. Start With an Iowa Trade Name Search

Registering a trade name in Iowa does not prevent other companies from registering the same name, but it does give notice that the name is in use. It is best if trade names are unique, and they must also meet Iowa’s business name requirements.

First, visit the Iowa Secretary of State's website and search for your new DBA name to make sure it isn’t already in use.

Next, review the Iowa naming requirements. In Iowa, assumed names should NOT include:

  • Words that could confuse your business with a government agency (FBI, Treasury, State Department, etc.)
  • Restricted words (e.g. Bank, Attorney, University) may require additional paperwork and a licensed individual, such as a doctor or lawyer, to be part of your business.

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?

If you need help coming up with a DBA name, try our business name generator. Then, create a unique logo for your brand with our free logo generator.

Step 2. Filing a DBA in Iowa with the County Recorder

Sole proprietors and partnerships are required to file a trade name application with the appropriate county recorder’s office(s) in order to operate under a DBA.

Sole proprietors and partnerships must file in any county where your business conducts or transacts business.

We will give you step-by-step directions to get a Polk County DBA (Des Moines). For directions in other counties, please contact your county recorder.

You can find your counties' contact information from the Iowa State Association of Counties.

How to File a Polk County DBA

Before you start the DBA filing process, it is a good idea to search the Iowa state business name database as well as local county records at the county office.

Once you have selected your name, you will then complete the Trade Name Registration form and submit it to the Polk County Recorder. The form can be submitted either by mail or in-person.

File Your Polk County Trade Name

File the Trade Name Registration Form by Mail or In-Person

Download Form

Cost:
$7
for the first page
$5 for each additional page

Filing Address:
Polk County Administration Building
111 Court Avenue Ste 250
Des Moines, IA 50309-2251

Manage Your Polk County DBA

DBA Questions
Call the Polk County Recorder’s Office at (515) 286-3160.

Renew Your DBA
Your trade name does not expire.

Change Your DBA
You will need to fill out a new registration to change your trade name. You can change information like addresses and owners’ names by filing the trade name registration form and checking either the “Add/Withdrawal Name(s) of Partners” box or the “Change of Address” box.

Withdraw Your DBA
Fill out the trade name registration form and check the box next to “dissolve trade name.”

If you want to use a professional service to get a DBA for your sole proprietorship or partnership we recommend:

four point five out of five  Swyft Filings ($99 + state fee)

File an Iowa DBA for a for an LLC, Corporation, or LLP

Incorporated businesses file their Certificate of Assumed Name with the Iowa Department of State.

The following business types are considered incorporated:

  • For-profit Corporations, Nonprofit Corporations
  • Professional Corporations, Professional Associations
  • Limited Partnerships, Limited Liability Partnerships
  • Limited Liability Companies
  • Any Foreign Filing Entities

You can file a DBA for your incorporated business yourself by using this guide. Or, use a professional service:

Step 1. Do an Iowa Business Entity Search

Registering a fictitious name in Iowa does not prevent other companies from registering the same name, but it does give notice that the name is in use. It is best if trade names are unique, and they must also meet Iowa’s business name requirements.

First, visit the Iowa Department of State's website and search for your new DBA name to make sure it isn’t already in use.

Next, review the Iowa naming requirements. In Iowa, assumed names should NOT include:

  • Words that could confuse your business with a government agency (FBI, Treasury, State Department, etc.)
  • Restricted words (e.g. Bank, Attorney, University) may require additional paperwork and a licensed individual, such as a doctor or lawyer, to be part of your business.

Learn more about Iowa naming guidelines by reading the state statutes that cover LLCs and Corporations.

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

Need Help Creating a Brand Name and Logo?

If you need help coming up with a DBA name, try our business name generator. Then, create a unique logo for your brand with our free logo generator.

Step 2: File Your Iowa Fictitious Name Resolution

You are required to set up your DBA with the Iowa Secretary of State if your business is incorporated.

You can file online or file a hard copy. The form will ask for your new DBA name and information about your business.

File Your Iowa Fictitious Name

Option 1: File Online With Iowa Fast Track Filing

Online Filing

- OR -

Option 2: File Fictitious Name Resolution by Mail or In-Person

Download Form


Cost:
$5 filing fee

Filing Address:
Secretary of State
Business Services Division
Lucas Building, 1st Floor
Des Moines, IA 50319

Manage Your Iowa DBA

DBA Questions
Call the Iowa Secretary of State: (515) 281-5204

Renew Your DBA with the State
Your Iowa fictitious name does not expire.

If you want to use a professional service to get a DBA for your LLC or corporation we recommend:

four point five out of five Swyft Filings ($99 + state fee)

After Filing Your Iowa 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 Iowa 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.

Useful Links for Your Iowa DBA