What is a DBA (doing business as)?
The term DBA means ‘doing business as.’ A DBA is any registered name that a company or individual uses to operate that is not its legal name.
The legal name of a company is varies depending on its business structure. For a limited liability company (LLC) and corporations, the legal name defaults to the company’s name. And for sole proprietors and general partnerships, the legal name is the name of the person or people that own the company.
Sometimes a DBA goes by other terms, including fictitious name, trade name, or assumed name. In Louisiana, it is most commonly referred to as a trade name.
For example, if you open a business, the legal name will be your personal name (e.g., Chris Robinson). Chris Robinson wants to open a store that sells construction materials and doesn’t want the name of his new business to be his personal name. So, Chris Robinson files a DBA to change the name of his business to Chris’ Construction. Chris’ Construction is now the name of the construction materials store. A DBA only gives Chris the freedom to operate his business using a trade name. Absolutely nothing else changes about the business except the name.
DBA vs business trade name
- In Louisiana, a DBA is most commonly referred to as a trade name.
- A DBA is an alias.
- A DBA is not a business entity and must be associated with a legal entity.
- A DBA and a business trade name are the same things.
Who needs a DBA?
All corporations, non-profits, limited liability companies, and partnerships must register a DBA in Louisiana if they intend on doing business using any name that isn’t the company’s name.
In Louisiana, sole proprietors do not have to file a DBA. However, it still benefits you to file a DBA in Lousiana before using a new name.
- New businesses. Lousiana does not require new businesses to file a DBA when using a different name. However, it is still the best way to operate a business under a name that is not the legal name.
- Sole proprietors. A business and its owner are the same legal entity. So, the two share a name unless a DBA is filed. For sole proprietors, a DBA does not prevent others from using the same trade name. However, it does act as a private record and notice that you’re using the trade name.
- LLCs. Louisiana requires that all LLCs who intend on using a different name register a DBA name. Without a DBA, every new business an LLC owns and operates would have to do so under the company name.
- Corporations. Corporations regularly own and operate different types of business in various industries. In Louisiana, a corporation must file a DBA to do business using a different name from the corporation’s legal name.
- Franchises. Most franchisees use DBAs. For example, if you buy an Arby’s franchise. Arby’s is an LLC, and a new franchise would be listed as “543 Business LLC”. You must file a DBA in Louisiana to alert them you’re now part of a franchise, and to change the name from its numeral listing to just Arby’s.
A DBA allows small business owners and startups the creative freedom to name their businesses. A DBA gives small businesses the room to name their business without the complicated and expensive process of forming an LLC.
Why do you need a DBA?
- A DBA keeps things simple for small businesses. A DBA only changes the name of your business. However, it benefits small businesses in other ways, too. A DBA is a simple and cost-effective way for sole proprietors to use a business trade name without having to form an LLC or incorporation.
- LLCs and corporations benefit from a DBA. Louisiana mandates that all LLCs file a DBA. Also, a limited liability company would have to form separate LLCs for each business operating using a different name without a DBA. For example, Jack’s Juices LLC wants to open a fresh fruit juice stand called Snowy Fruit Juices. Jack’s Juice LLC must file a DBA to change the name, but it remains owned and operated by Jack’s Juices LLC.
- A DBA addresses privacy concerns for small business owners. A DBA gives sole proprietors and general partnerships the ability to use a trade name on public-facing material rather than their own names.
- A DBA makes business banking easier. Most banks require all businesses to file a DBA before opening a business bank account. While Louisiana does not force sole proprietors to file a DBA, having separate business and personal bank accounts is still the safest way for new business owners to protect personal assets and credit scores. However, a DBA does not offer legal protection or liability protection.
- A DBA is a simple way to make branding easier. Your brand name is what makes you stand out against all the rest. The business name you use is what lets your customers and clients know what you’re offering. For example, had Chris Robinson not filed a DBA in Lousiana, no one would know he operates a construction supply store.
How to set up a DBA in Louisiana
Step 1 – Louisiana trade name search
A trade name in Louisiana must be unique and meet the state requirements.
You will visit the Louisiana Secretary of State’s website to check the availability of the business trade name you wish to use.
Step 2 – File your Louisiana DBA
Lousiana requires that you use a trade name before registering it. You can reserve a trade name before you register it.
You can reserve your DBA name online using Louisiana geauxBIZ.
The Application for Reservation of Trade Name form can be downloaded and returned to the Louisiana Secretary of State‘s office.
The form includes important sections including:
- The type of business
- The date you first used your business trade name.
- The date you first used to business trade name in Louisiana.
Louisiana Secretary of State
8585 Archives Ave.
Baton Rouge, LA 70809
P.O. Box 94125
Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9125
Step 3 – Pay Louisiana DBA filing fees
The DBA cost in Louisiana for sole proprietors, LLCs, and incorporations are $75.
Louisiana does offer a 24-hour expedited service for an additional $300.
A DBA in Louisiana expires after ten years. You will need to renew using the same process. The filing fees remain the same upon renewal.
Louisiana DBA name restrictions
In Louisiana, a trade name can’t contain any of the following:
- Words that insinuate or imply that your company is organized for unlawful reasons. Or, any words that “consist of or comprise immoral, deceptive, or scandalous matter.”
- All business entity suffixes, including LLC, Corp, LLP, etc.
- Any word that falsely suggests that a company is a charity, nonprofit, or government organization.
- Words such as engineer, surveyor, or any variation unless prior approval from the Louisiana Professional Engineering and Land Surveying Board.
- Redevelopment Corporation
- Electrical cooperative
Forms needed to file a DBA in Louisiana
Louisiana DBA tax considerations
A DBA only changes the name of a business in Louisiana. It has no effect on the status of a legal business entity for tax purposes.
The IRS does not require that you get a separate tax ID.
Also, you do not have to have a separate employer identification number EIN. DBAs are not separate legal entities.
How much does a DBA filing cost in Louisiana?
The DBA filing fee in Louisiana is $75. You can use the state’s 24-hour expedited services for an additional $300.
You will need to renew your DBA name every ten years. The cost for renewal is the same as registering a DBA.
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 Lousiana 2-3 business days to process a DBA registration. However, there is a 24-hour expedited process for a $300 fee.
You can make changes to your Lousiana DBA by calling the Louisiana Secretary of State’s Commercial Division.
Louisiana Secretary of State’s Commercial Division: (225) 925-4704
The Lousiana Secretary of State‘s Commercial Division can assist you in withdrawing or canceling your DBA.
Louisiana Secretary of State’s Commercial Division: (225) 925-4704
You can have as many DBA names as you can pay for and keep up with in Louisiana.
A DBA and a trademark are two different things.
A DBA allows you to use a fictitious business name that is not your legal name.
A trademark is a type of intellectual property registration that protects your business’ brand.
In Louisiana, a sole proprietor does not have to register a trade name. However, a trademark does protect your brand name in both Lousiana and on a national level.