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What Is a DBA and How do I File for One? 

Curiale Hostnik PLLC  Feb. 7, 2024

A DBA (Doing Business As) is essentially a trade name that a company uses. It's different from the company's legal name and allows businesses to operate under a unique name without forming a new business entity.  

Filing a DBA can be a beneficial option for businesses looking to expand into new markets. It's a relatively simple process that involves choosing a location, checking name availability, and registering the DBA with the appropriate state or county office.  

There are several benefits to filing a DBA. Firstly, it allows for rebranding or relaunching without creating a new business entity. This means you can operate under a trade name instead of using the legal name. Plus, it helps in protecting your business name from being used by others. 

Interested in getting a DBA but don't know where to start? Read on to learn the steps involved in filing for a DBA. If you have any questions or need legal advice, we recommend reaching out to a business lawyer in your area.  

How to File for a DBA

Filing for a DBA is a fairly straightforward process, but like anything in business, it's important to get it right. Failing to follow the proper steps can lead to legal complications down the road. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to file for a DBA: 

  1. Choose Your Location: First, you need to decide where you want to register your DBA. This is typically the state or county where you do most of your business. 

  1. Check Name Availability: Next, make sure that the name you've chosen for your DBA isn't already in use. Do this by checking your state or county's online database of business names. 

  1. Register Your DBA with the State: Once you have a unique name, it's time to officially register your DBA. The office that handles this varies from place to place - it could be the county clerk, the Department of Revenue, or the Secretary of State's office. You may need to create an account and provide personal information, like your business's legal name, federal employer identification number (EIN), Social Security number, and/or state tax ID. 

  1. Pay the Fee: There's usually a fee associated with filing a DBA, which tends to range from $10 to $100, depending on the state or county. You'll need to renew your DBA registration every one to three years, depending again on local regulations. 

  1. Receive Confirmation: After you've submitted everything, you'll get a notification about the status of your DBA registration. This could come via mail or email, and it usually takes a couple of weeks. 

Once your DBA is officially registered, you can start using it in your business operations. This means you can open bank accounts, write contracts, and conduct other business using your DBA name.  

We'd like to note that the specifics of this process can vary from state to state and county to county. For accurate and up-to-date information, we recommend consulting the guidelines provided by your local government office or seeking professional advice. 

We hope this clarifies the process for you. If you need any further assistance or legal advice, don't hesitate to reach out to us at Curiale Hostnik PLLC. We're always here to help our clients navigate the legal aspects of running a business. 

The Difference Between a DBA and an LLC

A DBA is different from an LLC (Limited Liability Company). While a DBA allows you to operate under a trade name, it doesn't provide legal separation between you and the business. On the other hand, an LLC is a legal entity that offers personal liability protection. If you're unsure which option is best for your business, remember that you can always consult with a legal professional. If you’re in or near Tacoma, Washington, our business attorneys would be happy to take your call. 

The Power of Legal Counsel

Filing for a DBA can be a straightforward process, but it's always wise to seek legal counsel before making any major business decisions. An experienced attorney can guide you through the process and ensure that all necessary steps are followed correctly. They can also provide valuable insights into other legal considerations for your business.  

Address Any Questions With an Attorney

If you need legal advice or assistance with filing a DBA, don't hesitate to contact us at Curiale Hostnik PLLC. We can help you at any stage of your business's life cycle. 

As a full-service law firm, we at Curiale Hostnik PLLC are proud to extend our services far beyond the boundaries of Tacoma. We serve throughout Pierce County, including Puyallup, Sumner, Bonney Lake, Gig Harbor, University Place, and Lakewood. Please don't hesitate to get in touch if you need our assistance. We're always ready to help, offering advice tailored to your unique interests and objectives.