DBA is an abbreviation for ‘doing business as.’ A DBA is any registered name that a company or person operates under that isn’t its legal name.
The legal name of a business varies depending on its structure. The legal name is the company name for a limited liability company (LLC) or corporation. For sole proprietors, the legal name of their business is their personal name.
A DBA is also called a fictitious name, trade name, or assumed business name. The only aspect of a business that a DBA changes is the business name.
For example, if you purchase a business, the business is initially your legal name (e.g., Lindsey Richards). Lindsey Richards wants to operate a construction company. She understands that she can’t use her own name because potential customers wouldn’t understand the services that Lindsey Richards offers. So, she registers a DBA to change the company name to Lindsey’s Heavy Lifts. A DBA changes nothing else about the business structure of Lindsey’s Heavy Lifts
The DBA now gives Lindsey Richards the ability to operate under a fictitious business name instead of her legal name.
DBA vs assumed business name
- An assumed business name, or DBA, is how businesses operate under a name filed. In Arkansas, any sole proprietor, LLC, or corporation who conducts business under any other name must file a DBA.
- The name of the company is its legal name.
- Companies in all industries can register a DBA.
- DBAs only work as aliases. So, DBA and an assumed business name are the same things.
- All DBAs must be associated with a legal entity.
Who needs a DBA?
In Arkansas, a DBA is required for all sole proprietors, LLCs, partnerships, and corporations to file a DBA. It allows companies to operate under any other different name that is not their legal name.
A DBA benefits you and your business in various ways. It is also dependent on your legal business entity and your personal needs and preferences.
- New businesses. Arkansas law requires a DBA for a new business owner if they wish to operate using an assumed business name, regardless of the type of business.
- Sole proprietors. A sole proprietor and the business their business share the same entity. It also means they share a name unless they file for a DBA name.
- LLCs. Arkansas requires that an LLC that wants to use an assumed business name must file a DBA. LLCs expand and require business names that are different than their legal company name. Filing a DBA achieves that.
- Corporations. DBAs allow corporations to operate businesses in a different line of business. Corporations that want to operate a business using a name that is not their legal company name must file a DBA in Arkansas.
- Franchises. Franchises utilize DBAs, every day. For instance, if you invest in a Chik-fil-A franchise. Chick-fil-A is a limited liability company. The new franchise would be listed as 909 Chik-fil-A. In order to change the franchise from the numerical listing to Chik-fil-A, you will need to file a DBA to alert Arkansas that you’re now part of a franchise.
DBAs allow new business owners and startups the creative freedom to decide their assumed business name. It also helps small businesses so that they don’t have to form an expensive and complicated LLC to only name their business.
Why do you need a DBA?
- DBAs are easier and less expensive than forming an LLC. DBAs do more than change the name on your signs and business cards. DBAs help small business owners avoid forming LLCs to only change the name of their company.
- Limited Liability Companies and corporations benefit from DBAs. DBAs allow LLCs and corporations to operate using assumed business names without the need to form separate LLCs for every company their own. For instance, if Sue’s Produce LLC opens a restaurant called Super Salads. In order to operate the new restaurant under an assumed business name, Sue’s Produce LLC must register a DBA in Arkansas to operate the restaurant under the assumed business name.
- DBAs address privacy concerns. Sole proprietorships and partnerships must use their personal legal names on public-facing material if they don’t have a DBA in Arkansas.
- Business banking is made more straightforward with DBAs. Business owners and their personal assets are better protected with a DBA. It is recommended that owners open a separate business bank account apart from their personal bank account to protect assets and credit scores. DBAs offer no legal protection on their own. Most banks require proof of a DBA before opening an account using an assumed business name.
- DBAs help with branding and marketing. Without branding, no one knows what you’re selling. An assumed business name on your signs and flyers lets customers know what you do and what you offer. For instance, had Lindsey Richards not filed a DBA, her customers wouldn’t know that she operates a construction company, and would not have a brand name.
How to set up a DBA in Arkansas for a sole proprietorship or general partnership
Step 1 – Arkansas assumed name search
In Arkansas, all DBA names must be unique and meet the state requirements.
The first thing you need to do is check assumed business name availability using the Arkansas Secretary of State’s website.
Step 2 – File the DBA in Arkansas with the county clerk
Arkansas requires that all sole proprietors file assumed name registration, or DBA, with the county clerk in which you wish to operate in.
Every county differs. You can find the complete county clerk list using the Arkansas State Association of Counties database.
You will need to download and complete the Assumed Name Certificate form.
Example – Pulaski County
In Pulaski County, you would search the Pulaski County assumed name database to see if the DBA name you wish to use is available.
In Pulaski County, you will then complete the Assumed Name Certificate and submit it either in person or by mail.
Pulaski Circuit/County Clerk
401 W Markham St, Ste 100
Little Rock, AR 72201
Step 3 – Pay Arkansas filing fees
The DBA filing fee is $25 in Arkansas. The fee is the same from county to county. Submit your payment with your DBA registration.
You can pay your DBA registration filing fees using a check, money order, cash, or credit card.
How to file an Arkansas business DBA for an LLCs and corporations
In Arkansas, LLCs and corporations are required to file a DBA if they wish to operate a business that doesn’t default to their company name. The process for filing is different than for a sole proprietor and applies to the following incorporations.
- For-profit Corporations
- Non-profit Corporations
- Professional Corporations
- Professional Associations
- Limited Partnerships
- Limited Liability Partnerships
- Limited Liability Companies
- All Foreign Filing Entities
Step 1 – Arkansas business entity search
All assumed business names should be unique and meet Arkansas DBA name requirements.
LLCs and corporations use the Arkansas Secretary of State’s website DBA name database to ensure that the one you wish to use is not already taken.
Step 2 – File Arkansas application for fictitious name with Arkansas secretary of state
While sole proprietors file their DBA with a county clerk, LLCs and corporations set up their DBA with the Secretary of State.
However, an LLC or corporation submits a copy of the Application for Fictitious Name with the County Clerk they wish to operate.
Arkansas State Secretary of State
Business Services Division
1401 W. Capitol Avenue, Suite 250
Little Rock, AR 72201
Arkansas secretary of state’s business and commercial services
Step 3 – Pay Arkansas filing fees
The DBA cost for your LLC or corporation in Arkansas is $22.50 to file online and $25 if you file by mail or in person.
For all partnerships, the cost is $13.50 online, and $15 if filed by mail or in person.
Arkansas DBA name restrictions
Always review Arkansas trade name requirements before filing a DBA. Business trade names can’t include the following:
- Any words that are easily confused with governmental agencies (FBI, Treasury, Department of Justice)
- Any words that imply or insinuate the business are organized for unlawful activity.
- Words such as bank, attorney, or University may require additional paperwork along a licensed person must be part of the business.
Forms needed to file a DBA in Arkansas
Arkansas DBA tax considerations
A DBA only changes the name of a company or business. It does not affect tax status or tax ID.
In Arkansas, you don’t have to have a separate employer identification number for your DBA name.
How much does a DBA filing cost in Arkansas?
For sole proprietors, the filing fee for an Assumed Name Certificate is $25.
The cost of a DBA for LLCs and corporations is $22.50 if they file online, and $25 if filed in-person or by mail.
The fee for a partnership is $13.50 if filed in person, and $15 if filed online.
DBAs in Arkansas do not expire. If you wish to change your DBA, you must file a new registration for the original fees.
DBAs can be canceled using the Cancellation of Fictitious Name form. The costs differ:
- For-profit and non-profit Corporations – $25
- General and limited partnerships – $15
- LLCs – $25
- LLLPs and LLPs – $15
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.
You can have as many DBAs as you want and can pay for them in Arkansas.
All sole proprietors, LLCs, corporations, and non-profits must have a DBA in Arkansas to operate under any new name that is not their legal name.
A DBA takes one to four weeks for Arkansas to process. Arkansas does not offer expedited services.
DBAs and trademarks are two very different things. DBAs allow a business to use an assumed business name that is not the legal name of the business.
A trademark is a type of intellectual property registration. It protects branding and marketing for a business.