DBA/Fictitious Business Names

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What is a DBA/fictitious Business Name?
A DBA "doing business as" or FBNS "fictitious business name statement" is a declaration to the public that a business intends to use a business name (also known as an assumed name or trade name) that implies multiple owners or does not include the full legal name of the owner. In some states this statement needs to be filed with a local government agency and published in a newspaper of general circulation in the area in which the owners intend to conduct business. Also, besides being required by law and a service to the public, you will need a DBA Certified Copy to open a bank account and accept checks written to your business.
How do I know if I need a DBA?
Because a DBA is designed to inform the public, one would need to be filed for any business name that does not fully disclose the identity of the owners. For instance John Smith & Associates would to need to file a DBA because their business name implies additional owners. ABC Auto Repair would obviously need one as well. However, John Smith Auto Repair would not need to file a DBA as this business name contains the full legal name of the owner. A corporation, LLC or other business entity registered with the State would file a DBA for any business name other than the one on their Articles of Incorporation.
When should I file a DBA?
A DBA statement must generally be filed before using your business name in the operation of your business, and in some cases within 30-40 days of your first business transaction. In some states a DBA needs to be refiled every 5 years or within 40 days of an address change. A business name may not imply that it is state registered organization unless it actually is. For example, John Smith cannot file a DBA for ABC Auto Repair, Inc. unless he has first incorporated with the proper state agency.
What protection does filing a DBA afford my business?
In most states, DBAs, unlike corporations or LLCs, do not guarantee exclusive use of a name. In most cases, the State or County will file any correctly prepared fictitious business name statement, regardless of name conflict. However, a DBA does establish a paper trail that could be useful in a lawsuit.
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