All businesses have a ‘legal’ name. The legal name of a company depends on its business structure. For sole proprietorships or a partnership, the legal name defaults to the business owner’s name or the owners. For incorporations, limited liability companies (LLCs), the legal name is the one that is listed on formation documents.
When a business wants to operate under a different name, it must file a DBA. DBA stands for ‘doing business as’ and is commonly referred to as an assumed name, trade name, or fictitious name. Filing a DBA only changes the legal name of your business.
An example is if you open a business, its legal name will default to your name (e.g., Meg Smith). June Smith is opening a computer repair shop and doesn’t want the name of her business to be June Smith. She files a DBA to change the name to Meg’s Tech. Meg’s Tech then becomes the business name and nothing else about the business changes. The DBA gives June the permission to operate its fictitious business name. Without the DBA, the business’s name would be her own name, June Smith.
DBA vs business name
- There is only one difference between a DBA and a business name. A company name is the name of the legal business, and a fictitious name, or DBA, is the way a company operates under a chosen name filed in a state or county.
- Any type of business can register a fictitious name, including sole proprietorships, LLCs, corporations, and non-profits.
- A DBA works as an alias. It isn’t a business entity and must be associated with a separate legal entity.
Who needs a DBA?
A business’s legal entity, state and local requirements and a business owner’s preference are factors when considering if you need to file a DBA.
- New businesses. Arizona doesn’t require you to register a fictitious business name or a DBA to operate under a business name within the state. However, an unregistered fictitious name can’t be used on official documentation. Also, in Arizona, it is illegal to use a fictitious name if another business in the state is already utilizing it.
- Sole proprietors. A sole proprietor and their business are the same entity. It means they share a name unless a DBA is filed.
- LLCs. Arizona does not require DBAs for LLCs. For LLCs, registering a fictitious business name allows an LLC to expand and operate part of it outside of their legal name. Without a DBA, every new business an LLC buys and operates would do so under their official and legal name.
- Corporations. Corporations often operate businesses in different industries and various lines of business. They must file a DBA to do business using a new name that isn’t the corporation’s legal name.
- Franchises. Most franchises utilize DBAs, too. An example is if you buy a Dairy Queen franchise. Dairy Queen is an LLC, and a new franchise would be listed as “432 Business LLC”. To change the franchise from its listing to just Dairy Queen, you will need to file a DBA to alert Arizona that you’re ‘doing business as’ the franchise you’re not a part of.
DBAs give small businesses and startups the creative freedom to name their businesses. Also, it helps them avoid the expensive and legally complex process of forming and registering an LLC or corporation to change its name simply.
Why do you need a DBA?
- DBAs keep things simple for a small business. While DBAs only change the name of a company, they help accomplish other things, too. DBAs are an uncomplicated and cost-effective way for sole-proprietors to use a fictitious name as your business name.
- LLCs and corporations benefit from DBAs. Your LLC would have to form separate DBAs for every business it purchases without a DBA. For example, Mack’s Meat LLC wants to open a restaurant named Meatballs. The LLC would file aB DBA to make that name change, but Meatballs would remain owned and operating by Mack’s Meat LLC. Regardless of the business is a corporation or LLC, a DBA is required to change a business name.
- DBAs address privacy concerns. In the absence of a DBA, sole proprietors and general partnerships must use their personal names on public-facing material. DBAs
- Business banking is easier with DBAs. A best practice for new businesses is to open a separate business bank account from their personal bank account. The reason it is recommended is that it protects personal assets and credit scores in the case the business fails. However, a DBA does not offer legal protection or liability protection. However, most banks do require new business owners to file a DBA before opening a bank account in that company name.
- Branding is made easier with DBAs. Marketing and your brand name are the ways that businesses catch the attention of potential clients and leads. The business name that’s on materials like signs and business cards tells your audience what you’re selling and who you are. For example, if June Smith hadn’t filed a DBA, no one would know she offered tech repair services.
How to set up a DBA in Arizona
Step 1 – Arizona trade name search
The first step in filing a DBA in Arizona is checking the Arizona Secretary of State Business Entity database for the availability of the fictitious name you want to use for your business. Once you’ve cleared the name, you can then go on to register the DBA.
An important thing to note is that in Arizona, DBAs can’t contain entity designations like LLC, or corp.
Also, it is an acceptable business practice to check the availability of the web domain (URL) you want to use for your business before filing a DBA. It helps to give you exclusive rights to the DBA you want.
Step 2 – Registering your Arizona DBA
In Arizona, you then file the DBA online with the Arizona Secretary of State’s office. You will need to provide specific information, including,
- Fictitious business name
- Date of application
- Business entity type and name
- A brief description of the company, including business services and products
- All contact information
Double-check all of the information when dealing with Arizona trade name registration. The Secretary of State will reject the application if anything is incorrect.
Step 3 – Finish Arizona DBA application
You will finish your application. You must wait for approval before using it for business cards or signage. It takes 2-3 weeks to process a DBA filing. If Arizona rejects the filing, you will get a detailed explanation as to why it was rejected.
Step 4 – Pay Arizona filing fees
You must include the DBA cost of $10 for your application. Arizona does offer to expedite a request for an additional $35. You can pay your filing fees by check or money order to the Arizona Secretary of State. You can also pay using your credit card.
Arizona DBA name restrictions
Arizona does have naming restrictions. A fictitious business name should not include the following unless approved by the Arizona Department of Finacial Institutions.
- Credit Union
- Savings Association
- Building Association
- Savings and Loan Association
- Building and Loan Association
- Savings Bank
- Trust Company
Forms needed to file a DBA in Arizona
Arizona DBA tax considerations
When you file a fictitious business name or DBA in Arizona, it has no tax implications.
How much does a DBA filing cost in Arizona?
The filing fee for a DBA in Arizona is $10. For each duplicate certificate, it is an additional $3. To expedite the process, it is an additional $35.
Arizona DBA registrations require renewal every five years and must be done online. The renewal fee in Arizona is $10.
If you change your DBA name, you will have to fill out a new registration which costs $10. And, in order to amend a current DBA registration, such as addresses and ownership, you must file the request online and the filing fee is $3.
You can cancel or withdraw your DBA with the Arizona Secretary of State online at https://azsos.gov/ with no additional fees.
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.
In Arizona, you do not have to file a DBA. However, it is still a good idea for banking, branding, and legal separation of you and your company.
You can get a DBA in Arizona by mail. You submit your application and filing fee to the Arizona Secretary of State office.
1700 W. Washington Street, 7th Floor, Phoenix, Arizona 85007
There are two locations in Arizona where you can file a DBA in person at.
Phoenix customer service center:
State Capitol Executive Tower, 1st Floor, Room 103, Phoenix, Arizona
Tucson satellite office:
Arizona State Complex Building, 400 West Congress, 2nd Floor, Room 252, Tucson, Arizona 85701
Arizona makes it easy to cancel or withdraw a DBA. You file the form online and there is no fee to stop a DBA.
A DBA in Arizona has a five-year expiration date.
The fictitious business name you choose to operate under is the most important branding tool available, and it isn’t expensive.
Pick a distinctive name that represents you, your business, and lets customers know who you are in a glance.
Your DBA name is required by Arizona to be distinct from any other business entity on record.
The Arizona Corporation Commission is based in Phoenix, Arizona. You also can visit them online.
The Arizona Corporation Commission is responsible for ensuring corporations’ compliance with Arizona Law by doing the following:
- Collecting annual reports from every current corporation
- Maintaining that information to allow easy public access
- Responding to public questions about Arizona business and corporation law
- Responding to the needs of the business sector
An EIN is just for tax purposes. And, a DBA is your business’ nickname. You don’t need a separate employer identification number for a DBA.
The IRS does not require that you have a separate tax ID.
Arizona has no limits on how many DBAs you can have. Every state has different guidelines when it comes to DBAs.