A DBA is a shortened version of ‘doing business as’. A DBA is any registered business name that a company or individual utilizes to do business that is not the legal name.
The legal name of a company varies depending on the business structure. For limited liability companies or LLC, it defaults to the company name. For sole proprietors, the legal name of a company is their personal legal name unless they file a DBA.
A DBA is commonly referred to by other names including, fictitious business name, trade name, or assumed name. A DBA only changes the name of your business, and nothing else.
For example, if you own a business, the legal name is your name (e.g., Nancy Jackson). Nancy Jackson wants to start a knick-knack shop. She knows that she can’t use his own name, Nancy Jackson, because people won’t understand the products she is offering. So, Nancy Jackson registers the DBA name Nancy’s Knick-Knacks. It now becomes the name of the business. The DBA changes nothing else about the structure of Nancy’s Knick-Knacks.
The DBA allows Nancy Jackson to do business under a trade name. It no longer defaults to her personal legal name.
DBA vs business trade name
- Companies in all industries can register a DBA. It includes sole-proprietorships, LLCs, corporations, franchises, and non-profits.
- A DBA and a business trade name are the same things.
- Businesses that operate under a name that isn’t their legal name do so using a business trade name or DBA.
- A DBA is only an alias, but it must be associated with a legal entity.
Who needs a DBA?
It is recommended that sole proprietors, LLCs, general partnerships, and corporations file a DBA in Alaska if they want to operate and sign legal documents using any name but their legal name.
While Alaska requires a business license rather than a DBA, DBAs are an essential tool for most businesses. They benefit you and your company in various ways and are dependent on your legal business entity and your preferences.
- New businesses. Alaska law doesn’t require a DBA for new businesses. It is still the best way for small business owners to operate a business using a name that isn’t your personal name.
- Sole proprietors. Sole proprietors share the same entity with their company. A sole proprietor and their business share a legal name unless a DBA is filed.
- LLCS. LLCs have to form a new company to do business under a different name other than their company name in the absence of a DBA.
- Corporations. Corporations that intend to operate a business using a name that is not their company must file a DBA. Commonly, corporations use DBAs to open and operate companies different lines of business.
- Franchises. Franchises utilize DBAs to operate under a name that isn’t the LLC name. For example, if you buy into a Popeyes franchise, it is formed as an LLC and listed as 412 Popeyes LLC. In order to tidy the name to Popeyes, you must file a DBA in Alaska.
DBAs benefit small business and startups the most because it allows entrepreneurs the creative freedom they need to name their business without the additional costs and hassle of forming an LLC or corporation.
Why do you need a DBA?
- DBAs help small businesses avoid the hefty cost and complicated process of forming an LLC. DBAs are the best way for a sole proprietorship to operate using a different business name without having to form a separate LLC or corporation.
- DBAs benefit LLCs and corporations. A DBA allows your LLC the freedom to do business under a different company name without having to form a separate LLC for every business they purchase and operate. An example is if Steven’s Produce LLC opens a salad shop called Salad’s Galore. In order to operate the salad shop under a business trade name, the LLC registers a DBA in Alaska.
- DBAs protect the privacy of owners. Without a DBA, a sole proprietor would have to put their personal legal names on public-facing material. A DBA protects your legal and personal name. However, a DBA doesn’t offer any liability protection by itself.
- DBAs separate an owner from their business. DBAs by themselves do not offer any legal protection. However, a DBA does prove that your personal assets are separate from your business assets in order to protect your assets and credit scores and reduce personal liability.
- DBAs make business banking more accessible. Most banking institutions require a business to register a DBA before opening a business bank account.
- DBAs make branding easier in Alaska. The name of your business is the first impression that clients and customers have of your company. Without a DBA, Nancy’s Knick-Knacks would merely be Nancy Jackson, and would not have a brand name to advertise.
How to set up a DBA in Alaska
In Alaska, setting up a DBA is simple and straightforward. However, you must have an Alaska business license before registering a new name regardless of the type of business.
Step 1 – Alaska business name search
Alaska requires all DBA names to be unique and meet the state requirements.
You will first need to visit the Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development’s website and do a DBA name check to see if the business trade name you wish to use is available.
Step 2 – Make sure you have a business licence before registering your DBA
All businesses must have an Alaska business license before registering a DBA. Alaska mandates that you must get a separate business license for every different name that a company uses.
Step 3 – File your Alaska DBA
Once you ensure you have a valid business license, you can then file your DBA name in Alaska. You can download and submit by mail the New Business Name Registration form or file online using the Department of Commerce website.
The DBA application will ask for various information, including:
- Business trade name
- Business license number
- Business type
- The nature of the business
- The business structure type (limited liability company or corporation)
Step 4 – Pay Alaska DBA filing fees
The DBA cost in Alaska is $25. A registered name is good for five years and must be renewed for the same $25 filing fee.
You can pay the Alaska DBA fees using cash, check, money order, or credit card.
State Office Building, 333 Willoughby Avenue, 9th Floor
Juneau, AK 99811
P.O. Box 110806
Juneau, AK 99811-0806
Alaska Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development’s Corporation Section
Alaska DBA name restrictions
- The state of Alaska does have restrictions on DBA names. And, they must not already be in use by another business.
- Any phrase or words that insinuates or implies that a company is formed for any other reason that isn’t included in its Articles of Incorporation.
- Words like city, borough, or village.
- Words that might confuse your business with a government agency (FBI, Treasury Department, Department of Justice)
- A professional designation such as engineer without a copy of the license or lettering from the governing agency.
Forms needed to file a DBA in Alaska
- Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development’s website
- New Business License Application
- Online on the Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development Website
- Department of Commerce website
- New Business Name Registration form
- Business Name Renewal Form
- Online Business Name Renewal Form
- Request to Cancel or Inactivate Business License
Alaska DBA tax considerations
In Alaska, a DBA name only changes the name of a business. It has no effect on the status of a business entity for tax purposes, and you don’t require a separate tax ID.
How much does a DBA filing cost in Alaska?
It costs $25 for sole proprietors, LLCs, and corporations to file for a DBA in Alaska.
The fee for renewing a DBA after five years is $25.
Professional DBA filing services
- ZenBusiness: ZenBusiness is an affordable solution for entrepreneurs, such as affordable LLC formations, and incorporations. ZenBusiness does offer a stand-alone registered agent service for $99 a year.
- Swyft Filings: Swyft Filings is a quality DBA service. They assign a registered agent to every client, making them a customer favorite. Swyft Filings offers a DBA obtainment package that costs $99 plus state fees.
- LegalZoom: LegalZoom does it all. The purpose of its design is to be a “one-stop-shop” for small businesses and their legal needs.
- MyCompanyWorks: MyCompanyWorks doesn’t have the experience that other professional DBA obtainment services have. However, they’ve served thousands of businesses successfully. MyCompanyWorks offers one DBA filing package for $99 plus state fees. You can add a couple of extras for additional fees.
- CorpNet: Corpnet’s biggest draw is that they have the best customers. It is hard to find a bad review about their DBA obtainment services.
- MyCorporation: MyCorporation has served over a million businesses over the last 20+ years. Their customer reviews reflect their longevity and success. The cost of MyCorportation DBA services is $99 plus State Fees. The expedited rush service is an additional $100.
- BizFilings: BizFilings offers entrepreneurs and small businesses services, such as LLC filing and incorporation services. The starting price of $99 plus state fees for BizFilings DBA obtainment services is pretty standard. However, it doesn’t include a namecheck in states that require them. Alabama does.
Alaska normally processes a DBA registration in 10-15 days. Depending on your business license status, and county-specific requirements, it could take longer.
You can register as many DBA names as you wish to in Alaska. However, you must have a separate business license for each DBA you file.
Alaska law requires a business license owner to use the business name exactly as it is listed on the business license.
If the full name on a business license is Yellow Sky DBA Car Sales then Yellow Sky DBA Car Sales must be the full name on advertisements and what is used to operate. You can’t shorten it to Yellow Sky or Car Sales.
An EIN is only used for tax purposes. A DBA, or business trade name, is a business alias. You don’t need a separate Employer Identification Number for a DBA.