Building Your Business Becoming an Owner Doing Business As (DBA): Why You Might Want a Fictitious Name By Scott Allen Scott Allen Twitter Scott Allen is a media consultant and the former social innovation architect for General Motors. Prior to that, he worked independently as a social media strategist for 14 years, helping clients turn virtual relationships into real business. He co-authored two books: "The Virtual Handshake: Opening Doors and Closing Deals Online" in 2005, and "The Emergence of The Relationship Economy: The New Order of Things to Come" in 2008. learn about our editorial policies Updated on September 13, 2022 Fact checked by Hilarey Gould In This Article View All In This Article Why Use a DBA for Your Business? Do You Have To Register as a DBA? Registering for a DBA Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Photo: Westend61 / Getty Images A DBA, or "doing business as," is an option when you're registering your business name. A DBA is a fictitious business name, sometimes called an assumed name or a trade name, that allows you to legally do business using a particular name at minimal cost and without having to create an entirely new business entity. You can accept payments, advertise, and otherwise present yourself in a business sense under this name while keeping it separate from your personal identity. A DBA is easy and inexpensive to set up, and some business structures may even require it. If you're wondering why you might want to set up a DBA for your business, keep reading. Key Takeaways DBA is short for "doing business as," which is one way you can register your business name.You might want to choose a DBA for your business so that you can legally identify your business while keeping it separate from your personal identity.It's easy and inexpensive to set up, and some business structures may actually require it.Requirements for setting up a DBA will vary based on your business structure, state and county laws. Why Use a DBA for Your Business? "Doing business as," or DBA, is a fictitious name that lets you use a name for your business without creating a formal legal entity such as a corporation, partnership, or LLC. You may need the DBA to open a business checking account, and you'll be able to get a business phone listing for your chosen business name. It's the least expensive way to legally do business under a business name for sole proprietors. A DBA also allows a single legal entity such as a corporation or LLC to operate multiple businesses without creating a new legal entity for each business. For example, you might set up a parent corporation with a generic name like LVH Web Enterprises, Inc. or Neighborhood Bars, LLC, then file a DBA for each website or bar if you're planning to operate a series or chain of them. Note Proper use of a fictitious business name can be a powerful branding tool at a minimal cost. Take advantage of it. Pick a great business name and use it at every opportunity. You can also use DBAs to segregate your business. If your company wants to get into a new business line that has nothing to do with your existing business and company name, you can create a different, appropriate assumed name for the new business line. If your company sells the same products, but to different audiences, you can also use different assumed names to keep everything straight. For example, if you sell women's clothing and baby clothing, you can set up two different assumed names to help you target each specific group. Do You Have To Register as a DBA? If you do not want to run your business under your own name as a sole proprietor, or under your partner's name in a partnership, then you'll need to register your business as a DBA. If your business name implies that more than one owner or individual is involved, for example, like Shawad & Sons or The Anderson Group, or if you just want to use only your first name, such as Joe's Garage or Sam's Boat Rentals, you would typically file an assumed name. If you didn't want to use a DBA, you'd need to use your last name. In some jurisdictions, you can use either your full name or part of your name, plus a description of your product or service, without filing an assumed name. You might do business as Elena Garza Interior Design or J. Washington Investigations. The exact rules vary from state to state so check with your local business regulatory authority. There's also the possibility that you have prospective clients that require you to have a DBA before they award you a contract for work. How Do You Register Your Business as a DBA? Check to see if you can register your assumed name with the Secretary of State or another state agency, but you may find registration handled at the county level in most states. Each county may have different forms and fees for registering a name. The process is usually fairly simple and straightforward. You perform a search through the provided database to make sure the name is not already in use, then submit a simple form along with the correct filing fee. Filing fees will vary based on your location. For example, a DBA costs $50 in New Jersey and is good for five years. In Orange County, California, it's $23 for a DBA, and it's also good for five years. You can renew your DBA after the time period expires. Note Call your county clerk's office to find out what the local fees and procedures are in your area. When you file for your DBA, it may take one to four weeks to hear back regarding your name approval. This varies by jurisdiction, but it's wise to file at least 40 days before you intend to open the doors of your new business. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) What is better, a DBA or an LLC? An LLC is a type of business structure. A DBA means you're "doing business as" a different name from your own. You can have an LLC that is registered as a DBA, so neither one is necessarily better. It depends on how you want to name and register your business and pay taxes. The only thing is that you may not be able to have LLC or Limited Liability Company in the DBA name. What does a DBA do for a business? A DBA allows a business to operate under a name that is not the same as the owner's personal name. It also allows a business to operate several other businesses, too. A DBA and a federal tax ID number can also help you get a business bank account. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit Sources The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. U.S. Small Business Administration. "Choose Your Business Name." Bank of America. "Opening a Bank Account for a Sole Proprietorship." U.S. Small Business Administration. "Register Your Business." State of New Jersey, Division of Revenue and Enterprise Services. "Alternate Names." Hugh Nguyen, Orange County Clerk Recorder. "FBN Refile." Assessor, Recorder, County Clerk, San Diego County. "Fictitious Business Name." New York State Department of State. "Certificate of Assumed Name for Domestic and Foreign Business Corporations."