So as you are sitting, drinking your coffee and reading the newspaper, you come across the section that contains lists of business names and DBA’s. What is this you ask? How does a company come to be listed in this publication? That section of the newspaper is for the publication of Fictitious Business Names or DBA’s. A Fictitious Business Name, assumed business name, trade name and doing business as (DBA) are names in which a business can operate under a name other than their legal name. Why would a business need to operate under a DBA?
When to file a DBA
1. You want to use a business name that is different that your own name. Your name is John Doe and you want to operate your plumbing company as a sole proprietorship, and call it Southwest Plumbing. Since your business name does not contain your name, John Doe, you would need to file a DBA. In some places you are able to use your name plus the description of your business without having to file the DBA, such as John Doe Plumbing.
2. You are a corporation, LLC or other legal entity that is entering a new business area not reflected by your current name. John Doe formed Southwest Plumbing, Inc. as a California Corporation and is operating in southern California. He is doing well and is ready to expand his business into northern California, Oregon and Washington. The business name Southwest Plumbing, Inc. is not descriptive of the services he will be providing after his expansion, so he will need to file a (or multiple depending on jurisdictions) DBA so that he can conduct business as West Coast Plumbing, Inc.. His legal entity will still be Southwest Plumbing, Inc. but he will be able to advertise, conduct business and otherwise operate under the name West Coast Plumbing, Inc.; not restricting him to the Southwest region, as indicated by his name.
3. To open a bank account. Sometimes a bank requires a sole proprietor or general partnership to file a DBA to allow the individuals to open a business account.
The DBA is a means by which you announce to the world who is really behind an operating business. This helps mitigate the ability of unscrupulous people hiding behind new business entities and names to avoid taxes and other liabilities. The publications in the newspaper you were reading is the way that the businesses are announced to the public.
How to file a DBA
To file a DBA or Fictitious Business Name, you must complete the appropriate paperwork with the applicable state, county or local agency that handles such filing. Some states or counties require publication in a newspaper as described above, providing public notice. As soon as those requirements are met, you may begin using your DBA.
For assistance with your DBA or Fictitious Business Name contact SBCS.