A DBA (“Doing Business As”) is known as a fictitious name, a trade name, or an assumed name. A DBA name is not your own name, or your partner’s name, or necessarily the official registered name of your business.
We recommend that a DBA should only be used by a formal business structure, such as an LLC, if you need to change or add a new brand to your business.
This article provides a brief overview on how to do a DBA name search, and why it’s a good idea to reserve a DBA name to prevent others from acquiring it.
DBA Name Check
You can register a business under your own name and will not necessarily need to register a DBA name. Not all states require the registration of DBAs.
You can conduct a DBA name check on your state’s Secretary of State website to see if the DBA name you choose is available for use. In most states, the website of the state business filing agency includes an online business name check tool. Use this online tool to search business names and determine whether someone else is already using the name you have chosen.
If you find a business with a similar name, it’s a good idea to review your state’s specific business naming requirements to find out if the similarity will prevent you from using the name you want.
Once you determine the name of your business, you will need to register the name in your state as a DBA. Sometimes existing DBAs change names and you will need to register, renew, or transfer the new name.
If you choose a business name and register it as a DBA, the legal name of your business defaults to your name as the business owner or another entity owning the fictitious name.
How to Search for a DBA Name
The first thing you need to do to get a DBA name is to conduct a DBA name search. You will want to make sure your name isn’t taken by another registered business in your state. You can do a quick search in the U.S. Trademark Electronic Search System, which will tell you whether someone else has already acquired or trademarked your name.
Next, you will also want to ensure your name complies with your state’s naming requirements. For example, LLCs have varying naming rules depending on the state where you conduct business in.
Finally, you need to make sure there’s a web domain available for your DBA by performing a URL domain search for web use. It’s a good idea to reserve and buy the domain name to prevent others from acquiring it in the future.
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How to Reserve a DBA
You might need to reserve your DBA name with the state, county, or city your business is located in. Registering your DBA name doesn’t provide legal protection for your business, but some states require you to register your DBA if you open a business. The Small Business Administration (SBA) includes a list of business structures that benefit from using a DBA.
If you own multiple businesses, you can go by the same DBA in one state, so there’s more leeway in what you can choose. To reserve a DBA name, simply visit your Secretary of State website or similar government authority. Usually, these government websites provide DBA registration forms you can download or online portals you can access by signing up.
DBA requirements vary by business structure as well as by state, county, and city so check with your Secretary of State or local government offices websites. Remember to check in with your state to see if you need to renew your DBA and the fees associated with it if there are any.
DBA Name Search FAQ
What does a DBA mean?
DBA means “Doing Business As”. It’s known as a fictitious name, trade name, or assumed name. A DBA is not a business structure; instead it’s another name, essentially a nickname for your company.
How to search for a DBA name?
Before conducting a DBA name check or lookup, you must figure out what you want your trade name to be and make sure that the name is available. You can search for the name on the name search page of your Secretary of State website or city or County Clerk’s website. Make sure to follow the naming requirements for a DBA search. If the name you want isn’t available, you need to come up with specific keywords and phrases until you find a name you can use in your state.
How many DBAs can I have?
You can have as many DBAs as you would like. However, each DBA will come with additional paperwork and expenses, so make sure you have a good reason for creating one.