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What is a DBA (doing business as)?
The term DBA means ‘doing business as.’ A DBA is any registered name that a business or persona utilizes to do business under a name that is not the legal name.
The legal name of a business is different depending on its business structure. For a limited liability company (LLC), the legal name defaults to the company’s name. For sole proprietors, the legal name is the name of the person who owns the company.
A DBA is also referred to as a fictitious name, trade name, and assumed name.
The state of Kansas has no DBA process and does not require you to register your fictitious business name.
However, if you open a business in most states, the legal name will be your personal name (e.g., Susan Jones). Susan Jones wants to open a music instrument store. She doesn’t want the name of the business to be Susan Jones. So, she files a DBA to change the name of her company to Susie’s Blues. Susie’s Blues is now the name of the business. Nothing else about the business changes.
DBA vs fictitious business name
- Kansas does not require DBAs or have a process to register them.
- Companies in any industry can register a DBA. It includes sole proprietorships, LLCs, corporations, franchises, and non-profits.
- A DBA is an alias.
- A DBA and a fictitious business name are the same things.
Who needs a DBA?
You cannot register a DBA name in Kansas.
However, most states have a DBA registration process that benefits most businesses.
- New businesses. In most states, new businesses that intend on using a name other than its legal name must file a DBA.
- Sole proprietors. A business and its owner are the same entity. It means that they share a name in the absence of a DBA.
- LLCs. In most states, registering a fictitious business name allows LLCs to expand and operate outside of the LLC’s legal name. Kansas does not require LLCs to register a fictitious business name.
- Corporations. Regularly, corporations own and operate different types of businesses in various industries. Kansas does not require corporations to obtain a DBA name.
- Franchises. Most franchises in other states utilize DBAs. For example, if you buy Denny’s franchise. Denny’s is an LLC, and a new franchise would be listed as “782 Business LLC”. To change the franchise from its numerical listing to just Denny’s, you must file a DBA in most states.
A DBA allows small business owners and startups the creative freedom to name their businesses. DBA also gives small businesses the benefit of avoiding the costly and complex process of forming and registering an LLC just to change the business’ name.
Why do you need a DBA?
- A DBA keeps things simple for small businesses. DBA registration only changes the name of a company. A DBA accomplishes other things, too. Filing a DBA is an easy and cost-effective way for sole proprietors to use an assumed name without the complication of forming an LLC or incorporation.
- LLCs and corporations benefit from DBAs. An LLC would have to form separate LLCs for every business it buys without a DBA in most states. For example, Tim’s Produce LLC wants to open a vegan hotspot named Anything But Meat. The LLC would file a DBA to change the name in most states, but Anything But Meat would remain owned and operated by Tim’s Produce.
- A DBA protects the privacy of business owners. A DBA gives business owners the freedom to use an assumed business name on public-facing material rather than using their own name.
- Business banking is made safer and more straightforward with a DBA. It is always safest to open a bank account for a new business separate from your personal business account. It is recommended to protect your personal assets and credit scores. Most financial institutions require businesses to file a DBA before opening a business bank account in the business name. A DBA offers no legal protection or personal liability protection.
- A DBA simplifies branding. Your brand name is what catches the attention of customers and clients. The company name listed on your signs and flyers lets people know what you offer. For example, had Susan Jones not filed a DBA, no one would know she ran a music instrument store.
Business name for sole proprietors and general partnerships in Kansas
Kansas does not have a name search for informal business structures like sole proprietorships or general partnerships. Kansas does not have a DBA process, nor do they require fictitious business name registration.
Registering a business name in Kansas for LLCs and corporations
While Kansas does not have a DBA registration process, LLCs and corporations register a business name through the Kansas Secretary of State.
LLCs and corporations must have a unique company name and meet state requirements.
You may consider forming a different kind of business entity, such as an LLC or corporation. An LLC or corporation can use its legal name as its brand name. The cost for filing LLC Articles of Organization in Kansas is $160 if you register online. If you submit the forms by mail, the processing fee is $165.
A DBA and a trademark are entirely different things. A DBA allows business owners to use a fictitious business name that is not its legal name in most states. A trademark is a type of intellectual property registration that protects your business’s branding.
Because there is no DBA process in Kansas, you may want to consider trademarking your brand name to limit its use for others.
You can file an amendment to the legal name of your existing business by completing and submitting the Business Entity Certificate of Amendment form. The processing fee for a name change is $35.