Do you need a DBA (“doing business as”) designation for your business? Here's why you would – or wouldn't – want to consider filing a DBA
Posted in ND Insights Newsletter on Monday, June 20, 2022
Do You Need a DBA?
When it comes to business, the name of your entity is as important as its location. Some Naturopathic Physicians want to see their name on the door, while others might want to retain some privacy as a small business owner and go with a name independent of their own.
What is a DBA?
It is, at its simplest, a nickname for your business – it stands for “Doing Business As.” If you form your business as a sole proprietor, you likely will want to use a DBA. Your tax and legal records will be associated with your own name, but you may want your business name to be different. For instance, Sue Smith might form a sole proprietorship for her practice, which will use the DBA Natural Health and Wellness.
Who Needs a DBA?
If your business is formed as a corporation in any form – S Corp, C Corp, LLC, etc. – you do not need a DBA. The company name you’ve created is the same as a DBA. If you are a sole proprietorship or general partnership, you will need to get a DBA unless you want the business to be under your personal or partnership name. Also, if you are buying into a franchise, it’s a good idea to file a DBA so state officials know you’re doing business under the franchise you bought into.
Are There Restrictions with a DBA?
Yes, choosing a DBA does come with some restrictions:
- It can’t include words like “Inc,” “LLC" or “Corp” if the business isn’t a corporation or doesn’t have that type of corporate status.
- It shouldn’t be the same DBA name as another business in the immediate area. It’s free and easy to search your Secretary of State’s business database to see what entities already exist with the same, or a similar, name.
- A DBA is not the same as a trademark. Check the USPTO.gov website for any existing trademarks before landing on your DBA to avoid any legal ramifications.
What are the Advantages of a DBA?
A DBA makes it easier to separate the business from the business owner which is helpful when actually “doing business.” It means you can keep your personal accounts separate from your business accounts and it opens the door for expansion. If you decide to open other practices in the future, you simply register those offices under a separate DBA. You also do not need to obtain an EIN number from the IRS or state tax authorities.
How Do I Get a DBA?
Once you’ve done the research and landed on your DBA, you may need to register it in the city, county or state you’re doing business in. Requirements vary so check with state and local governments before you register. Generally, you’ll need to submit a form and pay a small fee to register your DBA. It’s a small price to pay for the ease of starting off your new business on the right foot.