What is a DBA (doing business as)?
The word DBA means ‘doing business as.’ A DBA is any registered business name that a company or individual utilizes to operate a business under a different name that isn’t its legal name.
The legal name of a business is different depending on its structure. For a limited liability company (LLC) or incorporation, it is the company’s name. The legal name defaults to the owner’s personal name for sole proprietorships.
A DBA can also be called a fictitious business name, trade name, or assumed name. It is most commonly referred to as a business trade name in Connecticut.
A DBA only changes the name of your business and nothing else.
For example, if you purchase and run a business, its legal name is your name (e.g., Thomas Smith). Thomas Smith wants to open a newsstand. He understands that he can’t use his legal name. Customers won’t know the products he is selling. So, Thomas Smith registers the DBA name Tom’s Times, and it becomes the business’s new name. The DBA changes nothing else about the Tom’s Times newsstand structure.
Thomas Smith can now operate using a trade name by registering the DBA name. His business no longer defaults to this legal name.
DBA vs business trade name
- In Connecticut, a DBA is most often is referred to as a trade name.
- Connecticut requires all sole proprietorships, corporations, LLCs, LPs, LLPs, or out-of-state companies that wish to operate using a different business name must file a DBA.
- The difference between a DBA and a business trade name is that a DBA is simply an alias.
- A DBA must be associated with a legal entity.
- A DBA and a business trade name are the same and do the same things.
Who needs a DBA?
Connecticut law requires all sole proprietors, LLCs, partnerships, and corporations to file a DBA if they wish to operate and sign legal documents using any name that is not the company’s legal name.
DBAs benefit businesses and their owners in various ways. And the benefits depend on the business entity and personal preferences.
- New businesses. Connecticut requires that new businesses and startups register a DBA when they choose not to use the legal name to do business. DBAs are the best way for new companies to operate using a different name.
- Sole proprietors. A sole proprietor and their company share the same entity. The company name and owner’s name are the same thing without a DBA.
- LLCS. In Connecticut, your LLC would have to form a new company to do business under a trade name other than the company name. If an LLC has no intention of using a business trade name when they expand, they don’t need to register a DBA.
- Corporations. Connecticut law requires that corporations that intend to buy operate a business using a trade name file a DBA. Corporations commonly use DBAs when they open and run a company in a different line of business.
- Franchises. A franchise uses a DBA to operate under a trade name that isn’t the company’s name. For example, if you purchase a Target franchise, it is formed as an LLC and listed as 202 Target Store LLC. A new franchise owner must file a DBA in Connecticut to shorten the name to Target.
A DBA benefits small business owners because it allows them the creative freedom to name their business. And, it helps startups because they don’t have to form an expensive and complicated LLC or corporation to merely name their business.
Why do you need a DBA?
- A DBA helps businesses avoid the expensive and complex process of forming an LLC. DBAs are a straightforward way for sole proprietorships to operate using a business trade name.
- A DBA benefits an LLC or corporation. A DBA allows an LLC the freedom to operate using a business trade name without forming a separate company for every type of business that they own and operate For example. Dan’s Dairy LLC opens a milk bar and names it Milk and Malt. The LLC must register a DBA in Connecticut to operate the milk bar under the trade name.
- A DBA protects the privacy of the owner. Sole proprietors and general partnerships must have their own names on public-facing material without a DBA.
- A DBA will prove that your assets are separate from your business assets. A DBA does not offer any legal protection on its own. However, a DBA does prove that your company assets and your business assets are independent of one another. However, a DBA does not provide liability protection.
- A DBA makes business banking simpler. Most banking institutions require business owners to register a DBA before opening a business bank account. Also, when you open separate accounts, it better protects your personal assets and credit scores.
- A DBA makes branding easier in Connecticut. The first thing a potential customer or client notices about a business is its name. It describes what a company does or sells. Without a DBA, Tom’s Times would merely be Thomas Smith. In Connecticut, you must register a DBA before legally using a brand name.
How to set up a DBA in Connecticut
Step 1 – Connecticut trade name search
In Connecticut, a trade name must be unique and meet all of the state requirements.
In order to check name availability, you must search the city clerk’s records in the jurisdiction you plan on doing business.
For example, business owners in Stamford will search the Stamford City Clerk database.
Check the Connecticut Town Clerks Association website for the complete list of city clerk contact information.
Step 2 – File your Connecticut DBA with the city clerk
A business in Connecticut that wants to use a registered name must file a DBA in the city where the company is located.
The process is similar from city to city because the state of Connecticut regulates DBAs on the state level.
Example – City of Stamford
First, you will need to check the Stamford City trade name database for DBA name availability.
The next step is to download and fill out the Certificate of Registration of Trade Name form. You can submit the completed form by mail or in person.
City of Stamford Town Clerk
888 Washington Boulevard
Stamford, CT 06901
Step 3 – Pay Connecticut DBA filing fees
The average DBA cost in Connecticut is $10. It varies from city to city but typically runs between $5 and $10.
DBAs in Connecticut do not expire, and the filing fee is a one-time charge.
Connecticut DBA name restrictions
The DBA name you choose for your business must meet Connecticut state requirements and not include the following:
- Business entity suffixes unless the company actually is incorporated. (LLC, Corp, LLP)
- Connecticut restricts words like attorney or university unless a licensed person is on staff.
- Any words that might imply or insinuate that your company is organized for any other than reason than its permitted purpose.
- Specific words relating to banks, trusts, or savings.
Forms needed to file a DBA in Connecticut
Connecticut DBA tax considerations
In Connecticut, a DBA only changes the name of your business and nothing else about its legal business entity.
It has zero effect on the status of a business for tax purposes.
How much does a DBA filing cost in Connecticut?
You will pay a filing fee for your Connecticut DBA. The average DBA cost is $10, but some city clerks charge as low as $5.
A DBA in Connecticut does not expire and has a one-time registration fee.
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.
It takes most city clerks in Connecticut 1-2 weeks to process a DBA request. The processing time may differ depending on the jurisdiction.
Connecticut allows business owners to register as many DBAs as they can afford and keep up with.
You will need to follow the same procedures and pay the same fees for every DBA you want.
You are required to file DBAs through the city clerk’s office in the principal place of business.
If you wish to make amendments to your business trade name in Connecticut, you will need to fill out the Certificate of Registration of Trade Name with your updated DBA information.
You will click on the box labeled amend.
Connecticut does not have additional costs to make amendments to your DBA registration.
You cancel or withdraw your Connecticut DBA by filling out the Certificate of Registration of Trade Name and clicking the box labeled cancel.
Connecticut does not charge for withdrawing or canceling your DBA in Connecticut.
DBAs do not change the structure of a business. Also, it is not a business entity.
The IRS does not require that you have a separate Employer Identification Number or Tax ID.