What is a DBA?

Have you ever wondered if you should be doing business under a DBA (Doing Business As) name? This is a good idea in some cases, but it’s downright necessary for others. But, how do you know if you need a DBA? Also, how do you file a DBA? This article will cover both of these and other questions about your DBA name.

What is a DBA Name?

A DBA name, or fictitious name, is a name for your business distinct from its legal name. Every business has a legal name. In the case of sole proprietorships and partnerships, the legal name is the owner’s actual name (s). For LLCs, corporations, and other entities, the legal name is written in the articles of the organization. Therefore, this name can be distinct from the entity’s name as it conducts business.

Also known as “assumed names,” “fictitious names,” and “trade names,” these names can be just about anything. For example, a legal name for an LLC often requires the company to end its name in “LLC” or similar arrangements. MEANWHILE, a name can be any permutation – And some businesses opt for other names entirely. However, Florida State Law requires that the DBA name is registered. Without registering a name, you are required to use your business’ legal name to do business.

This is, so the public is aware that the business is using a name other than its legal name. These are consumer protection laws. Otherwise, potentially abusive companies could simply publicly rebrand whenever they face a scandal.

Things They Don’t Do

Registering a DBA name is not the same thing as starting a business. If you register a DBA without a legal entity that already exists, your business will be recognized as a sole proprietorship. This doesn’t afford you the same protections as an LLC or other entity. This distinction is important to understand as, without these protections, you’re responsible for all debts and obligations. It can put you and your business on shaky legal ground.

Why Do I Need a DBA Name?

Every business is different, and everyone’s reason for having a DBA name is different. However, we see some common trends in why businesses choose fictitious names. Some banks require a DBA for a company opening a business account. Many people with sole proprietorships value privacy and would rather not use their private names on the business.

DBA names also help your business stand out. For example, as a sole proprietor, if your name is John Doe and you start a plumbing service, your business’ name is John Doe. You might prefer if your business was called “John Doe Plumbing,” don’t you think?

DBA names provide a sense of credibility and branding to businesses as well. When you register your DBA, the name becomes a form of notification that you’re in business. Your business becomes a part of the public record.

How to Register a Name

The most obvious first step in Florida is to choose your DBA name. Next, you should research its availability and potential reach. Florida has an additional requirement. Chapter 50, Florida Statutes requires that the name be advertised in a newspaper at least once. This advertisement must occur in the county where the business is located. While you don’t have to provide proof of advertisement, you must certify that it has been advertised. After this, you submit your registration.

Registering a DBA name can be a process with easy-to-miss steps. This is why you should work with an experienced business attorney to help you through the process. At Dowd Law, we have experience with business formation and assumed name registration. In addition, you can visit our website to learn more about protecting your small business.