When you start a business, one of the first things you will likely find yourself doing is picking the perfect business name. However, you may also need a DBA (“Doing Business As”) to accommodate additional informal or unofficial names that you might use for your business.
A DBA is often referred to as a trade name, assumed name or fictitious name. If at any time you are operating your business under a name that is different from the official registered name, or if you are doing business under your individual legal (personal) name, then you will need a DBA.
While you can register a DBA without officially forming a business, it is not recommended as you miss out on all the legal protections and tax benefits that come with forming your business. Each state has its own specific rules, regulations and costs that go along with forming a DBA, so it is important to research your state, and the states that you will be operating in, prior to taking action.
Let’s take a closer look at the importance of a DBA name and how to file a DBA in New York.
Why Is a DBA Important?
A DBA gives you some flexibility with your business name, which can be a huge benefit when it comes to branding and marketing. A DBA can also provide an additional layer of professionalism to your business, particularly if you are in business using your legal name. If you are an accountant doing business under your personal legal name of John Smith, filing a DBA for your business name of “A1 Accounting” could make potential clients feel like you are a legitimate business and not someone doing a side hustle.
Businesses can also use a DBA to differentiate between various specializations that are offered. For example, if two sisters have started a house-flipping and real estate business together, “Smith Sisters LLC” could be the official business name, but they could file a DBA for Smith Sisters Interior Design or Smith Sisters Property Management to specify those different lines of business and attract new clients. In this example, the DBAs are still within the same umbrella of the overall business, but more clearly advertise the specific services that are offered.
4 Steps for How to File a DBA in New York on Your Own
Filing a DBA in New York is simple! Before you register, do a simple search on the NY Department of State website to make sure your DBA is still available and that no one else has already filed for that name. Make sure your DBA doesn’t violate the Department of State rules regarding acceptability of an entity name, some of which can be found here.
Once you have ensured that your name is not already in use or trademarked, it is time to complete and submit a Certificate of Assumed Name or the “Doing Business As (DBA) Certificate.” This form must be completed and filed with the Department of State. Some of the information you'll need to put on the form includes: the name of your business, the assumed name you wish to have, your business address and any counties where your company does business. Complete instructions to fill out the certificate in its entirety can be found here.
Submit the certificate and fee, along with additional county filing fees for the county or counties you will be doing business in. Your certificate and fee should be sent to: New York Department of State, Division of Corporations, One Commerce Plaza, 99 Washington Avenue, Albany, NY 12231.
Expedited processing is available, if needed, for an additional fee.
Obtaining a DBA in NY is a relatively low-cost regulatory filing. According to the New York Department of State, there is a base $25 filing fee for the certificate, as well as an additional fee for each county you will be doing business in; for most counties, this additional fee is $25, but for a few counties (New York, Kings, Queens, Bronx and Richmond), the county filing fee is $100.
You will need to pay the county fee for each county you intend to do business in, not just the county you are filing from. Fees can be paid by cash, check, money order or credit card (MasterCard, Visa, American Express). If paying by credit card, an additional credit card/debit card authorization form must be completed and included with your certificate filing.
You can request expedited processing for an additional fee of $25 for processing within 24 hours, $75 for same-day processing or $150 for two-hour processing. This is paid separately from your standard filing fees, but can be included on the same credit card/debit card authorization form. If you are requesting expedited processing, the envelope must be marked “Expedited Processing” on the envelope.
As of the time of this writing, the Certificate of Assumed Name is filed via paper mail with the New York Department of State.
Does a DBA Need a Separate Bank Account?
If you have a registered business, then you need to have a business bank account for that business. If you are an LLC, you need a separate business and personal bank account. If you operate solely under a DBA, you will likely need a separate business account. If you are a sole proprietor or a partnership without a DBA, you are generally not required to open a business bank account.
However, from a tax and liability perspective, it is highly recommended that you keep your business and personal funds separate by utilizing a separate bank account. Additionally, if you have created multiple DBAs to accommodate separate layers or arms of your business, it might be in your best interest to have separate bank accounts for each as well.
Who Can Help File a DBA?
Although filing for a DBA in New York is a fairly simple, straightforward process, you might want some extra help to save time and make sure the filings are done correctly. You can file a New York DBA on your own, but you don’t have to do it alone. Incfile offers support services for the various kinds of forms and processes you will need when starting your new business. Take a quick look at Incfile’s DBA service and see how easy it can be to file a New York DBA or a DBA in other states.
Ben Gran is a freelance writer from Des Moines, Iowa. Ben has written for Fortune 500 companies, the Governor of Iowa (who now serves as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture), the U.S. Secretary of the Navy, and many corporate clients. He writes about entrepreneurship, technology, food and other areas of great personal interest.