A woman in a brown shirt, sitting at her desk in her home studio talking into a microphone about how to register your DBA.

Register your DBA

Your business name helps establish your brand. Apply for a DBA and make yours memorable. Starts at $99 + filing fees.

Register my DBA
Trustpilot TrustScore 4.5 out of 5

What's a DBA?

DBA is an acronym that stands for "doing business as." A DBA is a way to give your business a name that's different from your name or the registered name of your business. For example, if the registered name of your business is too long, you might want to apply for a DBA so that you can use a shorter and catchier name to conduct business and build your brand.

Two women in a clothing store looking at red shirts talk about what needs to be done to get a DBA for a new business.

Other terms for DBA

Depending on the state in which you're doing business, a DBA may also be called a fictitious business name, a trade name, or an assumed business name. These terms are often used interchangeably, but mean the same thing.

Do I need to apply for a DBA?

You'll need a DBA if you're planning to do business using a name other than your personal name or your business entity's registered name. A DBA isn't always required for a business, but it can be a useful tool.

3 reasons why a DBA could be beneficial for your business

Rebranding

If you want to rebrand your registered business and branch into new products or services, a DBA lets you pursue a different direction than your official business name suggests without having to start a new LLC or corporation.

Privacy

Businesses not registered with the state (e.g. sole proprietorships) operate under the owner's full legal name, so your personal name would be listed on all transactions. With a DBA, you can separate your legal name from your business name and gain more privacy.

Legally required

A DBA is usually required under state law if you plan to operate your business under a name other than your legal name or an officially registered business name.

Ready to get your DBA?

DBA vs. LLC: What's the difference?

There are several important differences between a DBA and an LLC:

DBA

Ease and affordability

If you want to register your business name without creating an actual business entity like an LLC, a DBA is an easy way to do it.

Expansion and personalization

With a DBA, you can easily personalize your business by location. For example, if you have multiple ice cream shops in multiple towns, each shop can be branded with the name of the town.

Easy upkeep

A DBA usually only has to be renewed every few years, and it’s a great option for business owners who want to get an official business name without the upkeep needed for an LLC.

LLC

Protect your personal assets

By forming an LLC and keeping your personal financials separate, your personal assets are protected from business liabilities.

Tax flexibility

You get to decide how you're taxed—as an LLC or a corporation—to maximize your potential savings and minimize tax liability.

More maintenance

Although LLCs have simpler record-keeping rules than other types of business entities, they still involve more ongoing maintenance than a DBA, such as annual filings and reports.

Ready to get your DBA?

Yellow food truck for Tres Latinas, a Venezuelan food truck that specializes in arepas, after registering their DBA for their business with LegalZoom.

How to register a DBA

Here are some general steps to follow to file a DBA. There may also be state-specific requirements that you can likely find on the respective Secretary of State's website.

Search your name

Make sure the DBA name you want isn't already being used. You can usually conduct a business entity search on the Secretary of State's website.

Review the naming requirements of your state

For example, you may not use banking-related words or terms that could be associated with a governmental entity.

Fulfill operating requirements

Some states require you to operate under your DBA before registering it.

File your DBA with the Secretary of State or local government agency

You can usually submit a form online or via mail.

A man standing in front of the point of sale system at a wine store that has recently filed for a DBA.

DBA vs. sole proprietorship: What you should know

There are several important benefits of a DBA over a sole proprietorship:

Keep your private life separate

Creating a DBA allows you to promote your business without compromising your privacy by limiting the use of your personal name in day-to-day business transactions.

Branding and marketing

Branding becomes easier with a DBA. For marketing purposes, having a DBA lets you have a name that clearly promotes the product or service you're offering.

Increased legitimacy

Creating a DBA adds credibility to your business. The good news is that it's easy and affordable.

Open a bank account

Many banks require sole proprietorships to have a DBA to open a business checking account.

File your DBA online

Premium
$119 + filing fees

    Everything from Standard plus:

  • Preliminary name search*
  • DBA application filing
  • Publication of your DBA name*
  • Proof of publication filing
  • 14-day trial of attorney advice
Learn more

DBA FAQ

  1. There are initial filing fees and renewal fees which can very based on business type and your state. But since a DBA isn't a formal business structure, there are usually no ongoing annual fees or filing requirements.
  2. You can search for DBA requirements in your state or check with the state agency where you registered your LLC. Once you determine where, you may be able to register your DBA online. You'll be required to provide the name of your LLC and the fictitious name you want to use. Restrictions often prohibit the use of a DBA that's the same or similar to a DBA that's already registered.
  3. Yes. If you want to use more than one DBA, you'll need to file a separate registration for each name.
  4. No, you don't need an EIN for a DBA. Whether you're required to have one depends on how your business is organized.
  5. In most states and counties, you need to renew your DBA every 5-10 years. DBAs never expire in a few states like Indiana, Iowa, and New York.
  6. A DBA doesn't give you liability protection. You need to form an LLC, corporation, or nonprofit to get liability protection.
  7. You'll need to go through the normal process of registering your business with the state. This includes a name search to make sure no other business has the same name, since having a DBA doesn't guarantee that your DBA name will be available for your business entity.

Ready to get your DBA?

Why use LegalZoom to set up your DBA?

Peace of mind

We're the #1 choice for online DBA filings for a reason. We deal with state agencies for you by filing your DBA directly with them.

Comprehensive name search

If it's required in your state, our first step in registering your DBA will be to check your state's official database to find out if the name you want is available.

Publication of business name

In states that require publication of new DBAs, we'll publish your DBA statement in the appropriate newspaper.* We'll also forward you the proof of publication and a copy of your statement.

What our customers are saying

LegalZoom provided the roadmap I needed to get going... and kept me updated on our status during the entire process. —Allegra R., DBA customer
LegalZoom was quick and super easy to navigate. It was so simple there was no reason for me to go anywhere else! —Jamika M., DBA customer
Everything is online and easy to access. Highly recommend to anyone who's looking for professional services with easy access. —Brian S., DBA customer

Questions?

Ask an attorney

Get the right guidance with an attorney by your side.

Call an agent at (866) 738-2618

Mon–Fri: 5 a.m.–7 p.m. PT
Weekends: 7 a.m.–4 p.m. PT

Ready to get your DBA?