You’ve found the perfect name for your business. It’s interesting, memorable and the first step in creating your business brand. You’ve checked that no other business has the same name, filled in your Articles of Organization and paid the fee to create your LLC. You’re all set.
There’s only one thing you forgot to do — to see if your business name is available as a website domain name and as social media accounts. Disaster! It might turn out that your desired domain name is already used by another business, and some of the social media account names are taken as well.
You’ve heard of a “Doing Business As” name or DBA. This lets you carry out business under a different name to your formal LLC name. You’re wondering if you need a DBA for your domain name or if your business name needs to match your domain name.
Fear not — we have the answers.
Does my domain name need to match my business name?
That depends on if you’ll be marketing your business under the domain name instead of your official LLC name.
If the only place you’re using the domain name is as your website address/ URL, then you don’t need to do anything else.
If you’re using the new domain name to market your business or provide products and services, then you will need to file a DBA.
Let’s unpack this with an example:
Your business name is “Blue Widget Manufacturing LLC.”
www.bluewidgetllc.com was not available.
You were able to get the domain name blueplasticproducts.com and you’ve built your company website there.
You don’t need a DBA if you’re just publishing Blue Widget Manufacturing content to the new URL.
If you publish your website on the blueplasticproducts.com URL but all of your marketing, branding, interactions, social media accounts, etc., are under “Blue Widget Manufacturing,” then you’re good. You won’t need to file a DBA.
You do need a DBA if you’re using Blue Plastic Products as part of your marketing.
If you do market your business as “Blue Plastic Products,” and it becomes part of your brand and interactions, you will need to file a DBA that states “Blue Widget Manufacturing LLC” is doing business under the name “Blue Plastic Products.”
This will also apply if you’re using Blue Plastic Products as your social media account names, as you’ll be using those accounts to interact with customers.
Do I need a DBA for my business website domain name?
You only need a DBA for your domain if you’re using that domain name as part of your brand, marketing, customer interactions, social media account names or other areas. If you’re purely using the domain name as a website address, you do not need to file a DBA.
If I have a different domain name and I want to use it in my marketing, do I have options other than filing a DBA?
Yes, you can change the legal name of your business. You do this through filing Articles of Amendment with the business formation body in your state. If you do change your legal LLC name, you will also need to notify other parties like your bank, the IRS and your state Department of Revenue.
For example, Blue Widget Manufacturing LLC can change its name to Blue Plastic Products and won’t need to file a DBA.
In most cases, filing a DBA is quicker, simpler, cheaper and less time-consuming.
Do I need to get different DBAs for each domain I own?
Only if you intend to market your business under those domain names. The same rules apply as they do if you only have one domain.
Do I need a DBA if I use a domain name for my social media accounts?
Yes, because you’ll be using those accounts to market yourself and communicate with customers. This means you should file a DBA.
How do I file a DBA?
You can file a DBA with the relevant party — most often your Secretary of State. You can go to the relevant website, download a form, fill it out and mail it back with a fee. Everything happens online, and it’s quick and inexpensive. Alternatively, many business owners decide to use a DBA service, which will collect the relevant info and file your form for you.
How do I find out if a domain name that matches my business name is available?
All domain registrars, like GoDaddy, Google Domains, NameCheap, Tucows, etc., provide a domain name search. You can enter different domain names to find out if they’re available. Bust-a-Name is a very helpful tool for testing out different variations of your business name and checks the availability for each one.
How do I check if social media account names are available?
Services like Namecheckr, Namechk and KnowEm let you check your proposed business name across multiple social media networks and website URLs.
How do I find a great business name in the first place?
Yes. If you have a business name and brand that you want to protect, then you can always trademark that name. This will prevent any other business in the U.S. from using a similar name to market their products, brand themselves or otherwise infringe on your name. You can get started on a trademark search and file your trademark here.
You’re Ready for This
Once you have the perfect name and you’ve checked availability, we make it fast and easy to get a DBA. Incfile can be your partner in securing a DBA and getting your business up and running.
Paul is a freelance writer, small business owner, and British expat exploring the U.S. When he’s not politely apologizing, he enjoys hats, hockey, Earl Grey Tea, mountains, and dogs.