DBA (Doing Business As)

DBA stands for "doing business as". A DBA is any name a business operates under that isn't its legal name.

In most states, you can operate under a different name as long as you officially register it with the proper city, county, or state agency. 

A DBA isn't a business structure and doesn't provide any personal asset protection like an LLC or corporation. Visit our DBA vs LLC guide to learn more.

For help with registering a DBA in your state, visit our How to File a DBA guides.


DBA Meaning | Doing Business As Definition

DBA Definition: A DBA is any name your business operates under that isn't its legal name. They are often referred to as a fictitious name, trade name, or assumed name.

A DBA isn't a business structure and doesn't provide any personal asset protection. Learn more on our DBA vs LLC guide.

Most states allow businesses to operate under a doing business as name. To learn more, watch our What is a DBA video or visit our DBA and How to File a DBA guides.

Do I Need A DBA?

A DBA isn't required in order to form or run a business. For the most part, a DBA is only necessary if you're:

  • A sole proprietor or partnership hoping to operate under a name other than your own legal name.
  • An LLC or corporation looking to rebrand or create multiple brands in order to reach a new market or describe a new product/service.

Most businesses simply form an LLC and conduct business under the name they register at the time of formation.

Benefits of a DBA

Sole Proprietorship and Partnership DBA Benefits

DBAs are used by sole proprietorships and partnerships to allow the business to operate under a name other than their surname(s). Without a DBA, a sole proprietor must operate under their personal legal name.

Important: Registering a DBA name doesn't create personal asset protection for your sole proprietorship or partnership. This is because a DBA is only a registered name of a business. You can learn more about liability protection in our business structure guide or our DBA vs LLC guide.

LLC and Corporation DBA Benefits

Although DBAs are most popular among sole proprietorships, they're also great for established LLCs and partnerships looking to rebrand or get into a new line of business with multiple brand names.

A cube with LLC printed on its sides

DBA Examples

Sole Proprietor Example:

"John Doe" could operate and accept payment under the name "Advanced Photography" if he had a DBA. Without registering a DBA, John would only be able to accept checks made out to "John Doe."

LLC Example:

If "Babe's Hardware, LLC" wanted to expand into furniture sales and restoration, the owner(s) might file for the trade name, "Babe's Furniture." This would allow them to market the business as a furniture store and accept payments under the name "Babe's Furniture."

How to Get a DBA

Filing a DBA is an easy process that is achieved by registering with your state, county, and/or city.

You can get started today on our free How to File a DBA guides.

Reduce Personal Liability

Registering a DBA name doesn't provide personal asset protection. You can protect your personal assets by choosing a business structure that offers liability protection.

What is an LLC? | Cost to Form an LLC

Form an LLC in 5 Easy Steps

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a DBA allow you to do?

A DBA (doing business as) allows a business to operate under a name different from its legal name.

What is the benefit of a DBA?

A DBA allows sole proprietorships to operate under a name different from the owner’s legal name, which can make the company appear more professional. DBAs can also be useful when a company wants to introduce a new product or line of business under a different name but doesn’t want to create a new legal entity.

How do I get a DBA?

The DBA filing process differs state to state. In some states, companies file for DBAs at the state level, while in other states, companies must file for DBAs with the cities or counties they operate in. To learn how to form a DBA in your state, check out these state-specific guides.

Does a DBA have to file taxes?

A DBA is not a separate legal entity, so it does not have to file separate taxes. All business conducted under a DBA is part of the legal entity for tax purposes.

Do you need a separate bank account for a DBA?

No, it is not necessary to have a separate bank account for a DBA. However, if your DBA is for a sole proprietorship, it is a good idea to have a separate business bank account.

How much does it cost to start a DBA?

The price varies state by state, but the cost of a DBA is typically between $10-$100.

What is better, a DBA or LLC?

The right choice between getting a DBA for your sole proprietorship/partnership or forming an LLC depends on your business’s unique situation and needs. Operating a sole proprietorship under a DBA name is a simpler, more economical option, but an LLC offers important advantages such as personal liability protection.

What is an example of a DBA?

An example of a DBA would be a sole proprietorship carpentry business owned by John Doe doing business under the name Best Cut Carpentry.

How do you write a DBA name?

You should write your DBA name exactly how it is registered.
 

Related Articles