What is a DBA (doing business as)?
The legal name of a business depends on its structure and differs from business to business. The legal name for LLCs is the name of the company. In contrast, the legal name for sole proprietors defaults to the owner’s personal name.
A DBA name is any name a business registers that is not its legal name. The acronym DBA means ‘doing business as’, and can be referred to as a fictitious name, trade name, or assumed name. In Indiana, a DBA is most commonly called an assumed business name.
A DBA doesn’t change anything about your business structure. It only changes the name of the business.
For example, when you open a business, it defaults to your legal name (e.g., Jan Williams). Jan Williams is opening a nail salon. She doesn’t want her business name to default to Jan Williams. So, she files a DBA to change the business name to Jan’s Hands. The new name, Jan’s Hands, becomes the name of the business. If she did not register a DBA name, the name of the nail salon would be her own name, Jan Williams.
DBA vs assumed business name
- In Indiana, a DBA is most commonly referred to as an assumed business name.
- A DBA name is how companies operate under a specific name that is not their legal name.
- A DBA name and an assumed business name are the same things.
- In Indiana, sole proprietors and general partnerships must file their DBA with the county recorder in the county they do business primarily in order to use a registered name.
- Incorporated businesses in Indiana file a DBA with the Secretary of State.
Who needs a DBA?
Sole proprietors and partnerships need DBAs to sign legal documents and open business bank accounts in Indiana.
Incorporated companies must set up their DBA name with the Secretary of State.
It is an ideal plan of action to have a DBA for various other reasons, and it will depend on your needs, the needs of your company, and state and local requirements.
- New businesses. New businesses and startups have to sign legal documents and open business bank accounts. A DBA in Indiana simplifies those processes and allows you to use an assumed business name rather than your personal legal name.
- Sole proprietors. A sole proprietor and their business share the same legal entity. Unless an owner files a DBA, they also share a name.
- LLCs. The state of Indiana requires DBAs for LLCs that expand and operate businesses that don’t use the name of the LLC. Without a DBA, each business that an LLC operates would have to use the company’s legal name.
- Corporations. Corporations regularly utilize DBAs in order to operate companies in different industries. A corporation has to register a DBA name to do business under an assumed business name instead of the corporation name.
- Franchises. Franchises use DBAs every day. An example is if you purchase a Smoothie King franchise. Smoothie King is an LLC, so that the new franchise would be listed as “908 Business LLC”. You must file a DBA to change the franchise from its numerical listing to just Smoothie King. The DBA also alerts Indiana that you’re ‘doing business as’ the franchise you’ve bought into.
A DBA gives small business owners and startups the creative freedom they need to name their businesses. Also, a DBA helps startups avoid the cost-heavy and complicated process of forming an LLC or corporation only to choose a different name.
Why do you need a DBA?
- DBAs keep things simple for small businesses and startups. A DBA only changes the company name. However, they do accomplish more than that. DBA registration is a straightforward and affordable way for sole proprietorships to use an assumed business name without forming a separate LLC.
- Limited liability companies (LLCs) and corporations benefit from DBAs. LLCs have to file separate DBAs for every type of business they manage if they don’t want it to be the name of the LLC. For example, Tammy’s Produce LLC wants to open a salad food truck named Sassy Salads. The LLC must file a DBA to change the name, even though Tammy’s Produce LLC owns the food truck. Indiana requires corporations and LLCs to file for an assumed business name.
- A DBA will address privacy concerns. Sole proprietors and co-partnerships have to use their own names on public-facing material if they choose not to register a DBA name.
- Business banking is made simpler with a DBA. DBAs offer no legal liability protection or legal protection; however, opening a separate business bank account goes a long way to protecting your personal assets and credit scores. Most banks, lenders, and banking institutions require that new businesses register a DBA name before opening a business bank account.
- A DBA is your brand name. What you decide to name your business is how new customers will know what you do or what you sell. The assumed business name on signage and business cards explains to your audience who you are. For instance, if Jan Williams hadn’t filed a DBA, no one would know she operates a nail salon.
How to set up a DBA in Indiana for sole proprietorship or general partnership
Step 1 – Indiana assumed business name search
In Indiana, DBA names must be unique and meet state requirements.
To check the availability of an assumed business name, search the Indiana Secretary of State’s website.
Step 2 – Filing a DBA in Indiana with the county recorder
Sole proprietors and partnerships in Indiana must file a Certificate of Assumed Business Name with the county recorder’s office in the county in which they primarily do business.
You can find a complete list of county recorders by visiting the Indiana Secretary of State’s list of county recorders.
Example – Marion County
First, you will search DBA name availability on the Indiana Secretary of State’s website. Also, search the county assumed name records with the county recorder’s office.
You will then need to complete the Certificate of Assumed Business Name and submit it to the Marion County Recorder. You can submit it either in person or by mail.
Indiana allows you to submit an electronic DBA filing through a third-party service with a registered agent.
Marion County Recorder’s Office
200 E. Washington Street
Indianapolis, IN 46204
Step 3 – Pay Indiana filing fees
The DBA cost in Indiana is $35 and is a one-time fee. DBAs in Indiana do not expire.
You can pay the filing fees by cash or credit card.
How to file an Indiana business DBA for an LLC or corporation
LLCs and corporations must file their Certificate of Assumed Name with the Indiana Secretary of State. It applies to the following business entities:
- For-profit Corporations
- Non-profit Corporations
- Limited Partnerships
- Limited Liability Partnerships
- Limited Liability Companies
- All Foreign Filing Entities
Step 1 – Indiana business entity search
All DBA names must be unique and meet Indiana state requirements.
The first step is to check the Indiana Secretary of State’s website for DBA name availability.
Step 2 – Filing an Indiana Certificate of Assumed Business Name
If your business is incorporated, Indiana requires that you register your DBA name on the state level with the Secretary of State.
Indiana Secretary of State
Business Services Division
302 West Washington St. Room E018
Indianapolis, IN 46204
Indiana Secretary of State Business Services Division – (317) 232-6576
Step 3 – Pay Indiana filing fees
The DBA filing cost for LLCs, corporations, LPs, and LLPs is $30 if by mail or in person. The DBA cost if you file online is $20.
For non-profits, the filing fee for a DBA is $26 if by mail or in-person and $10 if filed online.
The DBA filing fees for incorporated businesses are a one-time fee because DBAs in Indiana do not expire.
Indiana DBA name restrictions
Indiana restrictions on assumed business names. A DBA name cannot include:
- Any words that confuse the business with a governmental agency (FBI, CIA, Treasury)
- The word bank or any variation unless approved by the Indiana Department of Financial Institutions.
- The word medical or any variation unless it is a professional corporation that has a licensed physician as a shareholder.
Forms needed to file a DBA in Indiana
Indiana DBA tax considerations
- The only aspect of a business that a DBA changes is the name. So, there are no tax implications when you file a DBA in Indiana.
- A DBA is not a legal business entity.
- Also, the IRS doesn’t require that you have a separate employer identification number or tax ID for a DBA name.
How much does a DBA filing cost in Indiana?
The DBA one-time filing fee for sole proprietors is $35.
The Indiana DBA one-time filing fee for LLCs, for-profit corporations, LPs, and LLPs is $30 by mail or in person, or $20 online.
The one-time DBA filing fees for non-profits are $26 by mail or in person or $10 online.
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 the state of Indiana around 15 days to process a DBA filing.
However, it can take longer depending on the county recorder’s workload in the jurisdiction you file within.
Indiana doesn’t offer expedited services.
Sole proprietors can withdraw a DBA name by filing the Dissolution of Doing Business As (DBA) form with the county in which your DBA is registered. The document must be notarized by a public notary, and the cost will vary.
Indiana does not charge for withdrawing or canceling your DBA name.
In order to make changes to your Indiana DBA, you must complete and re-submit the Certification of Assumed Business Name form. You will pay the same fees you did initially when you filed the paperwork.
In Indiana, you can have as many DBAs as you can afford and keep up with. You have to follow the same steps and processes for each DBA you wish to acquire.