Under the right circumstances, a limited liability company (LLC) can benefit from establishing a DBA — or “doing business as” — name. But all the misinformation surrounding DBAs, how they work and when they best serve your company only presents further complications. Many companies lack the guidance to make an informed decision regarding their company’s potential return on investment with a DBA.
And even when they do decide to pursue a DBA filing, business owners often don’t even know how to get started. Is it really necessary, for example, to make a physical visit to the corresponding office to file the paperwork? Or is there a simpler solution, one that is not some kind of scam? Can you apply for a DBA online?
After all, as rising business owners, time is a commodity that is already in short supply. So here is a breakdown of everything you need to know, including how to file your DBA online.
What Is a DBA?
Before you can hope to make effective use of a DBA, you need to start by knowing exactly what it is. Unfortunately, the business landscape has been clouded with a variety of similar terms, such as:
Fictitious business name
Assumed business name
In reality, all of the above mean the same thing: DBA.
Depending on a variety of factors involving your business, you might be accustomed to a term other than DBA. But rest assured, they all refer to your company’s operational name. In many cases, this is the same as your company’s registered legal name. However, you’ll need to confirm with your state whether any specific rules govern or limit your company’s DBA.
When You Should Use a DBA
For many companies, a DBA is nice to have but not necessarily a game changer. Generally speaking, your business is in the best position to benefit from a DBA if you are in one of these scenarios:
An LLC or other corporation desiring to conduct business under a name — again, except for certain restrictions — different from its legal registered name.
Sole proprietors and members of a partnership that want to conduct business without their personal name attached. But this, of course, doesn’t provide many legal benefits.
How to Apply for a DBA
Can you file a DBA online? The short answer is yes—if your state allows it.
Once you decide you’re ready to file your DBA, you have some flexibility regarding your approach. When it comes to filing it yourself, let’s discuss your options in a bit more detail.
Visiting your local office: Of course, even in the age of technology, you can always pay a visit to your county offices. There you’ll be able to complete the applicable forms and pay the registration fee. Just be sure to check with your state for any additional requirements you need to meet or specific materials you need to have on hand when you arrive.
Finding the form online: Once you confirm which state agency to contact, find the DBA section on the office’s website. Bear in mind, you may need to look for one of those similar terms (e.g., fictitious name or trade name) instead. Download and complete the form. Then, if your state allows online filing, you can go that route. Otherwise, you may need to mail it or deliver it in person, along with your fee.
Filing a DBA completely online: While it still isn’t available everywhere, you could be able to complete the entire process without leaving your home or office. Again, though, you’ll need to check with your governing state agency — usually your state’s Secretary of State office — before taking action.
An Easier Way to File a DBA Online
Many busy professionals choose not to take full ownership of the DBA filing process. And that’s entirely okay. After all, delegating such administrative tasks comes with the territory. With so much to accomplish in relatively little time, you’ll need all the help you can get. That’s why Incfile offers a full-service experience that handles the DBA registration for you.
Using Incfile's service means you won't have to worry about forms, registration or even fees. We’ll collect all the necessary information and get the process started so that you don't have to clear your schedule to finally get around to filing your DBA. Best of all, you can sign up for Incfile’s service right now from the comfort of your computer or mobile device.
We’ll connect your company to the local agency and run a check ourselves. Your DBA filing will be in progress at last. Moreover, you can file a DBA any time, whether your company is just starting or has been around for a while. Ready to get your DBA filed? Learn more about our DBA filing package!
Robert Yaniz Jr.
Robert Yaniz Jr. has been a professional writer since 2004, including print and online publications. Much of his experience centers on the business world, including work for a major regional business newspaper and a global law firm