The abbreviated acronym DBA stands for ‘doing business as.’ A DBA is any registered name that a business or individual uses to operate that is not the legal name.
The legal name of a company is different depending on its business structure. For a limited liability company (LLC), the legal name defaults to the company’s name. And for sole proprietors, the legal name is the name of the individual that owns the company.
A DBA is also called a fictitious business name, a trade name, and an assumed name. In Missouri, a DBA is most commonly referred to as a fictitious name.
An example is if you open a business, its legal name will default to your name (e.g., Mark Jackson). Mark Jackson is opening a pet supply store. He doesn’t want his business name to be his name, Mark Jackson. So, he registers a DBA to change the name to Mark’s Bark. Mark’s Bark then becomes the business name. Nothing else about the business changes.
The DBA allows Mark Jackson to operate using a fictitious name in Missouri. Without the DBA, the business’s name would be his own name, Mark Jackson.
DBA vs fictitious business name
- In Missouri, a DBA is most commonly referred to as a fictitious name.
- Companies in any line of business must register a DBA.
- A DBA is just an alias.
- A DBA and a fictitious business name are precisely the same things.
Who needs a DBA?
Missouri mandates that any company or individual doing business under a name other than their true and legal name must file a DBA. It includes sole-proprietorships, LLCs, corporations, franchises, and non-profits.
A DBA benefits company’s in a variety of ways. The advantages of a DBA are dependent on a business’s legal entity, state requirements, and a business owner’s preference.
- New businesses. Missouri requires all new businesses that intend on using a name other than its legal name to register a DBA.
- Sole proprietors. A sole proprietor and their business are not separate legal entities. It means they share a name unless you file a DBA.
- LLCs. In Missouri, a DBA is required for all LLCs that want to operate using a name that is not the LLC’s legal name. Without a DBA, every new business an LLC owns and operates would do so under its legal name. Also, registering a fictitious name in Missouri allows an LLC to expand and operate part of their company outside of their legal name.
- Corporations. Corporations regularly own and operate different types of businesses in various industries. In Missouri, a corporation must file a DBA to do business using a different name from the corporation’s true and legal name.
- Franchises. Most franchises utilize DBAs. For example, if you buy an Arby’s franchise. Arby’s is an LLC, so that the new franchise would be listed as “357 Business LLC”. To change the franchise from its numerical listing to Arby’s, you must file a DBA.
A DBA allows small business owners and startups the creative freedom to name their businesses. Also, DBA registration helps entrepreneurs avoid the costly and complicated process of forming a separate LLC just to use a different name.
Why do you need a DBA?
- A DBA keeps things uncomplicated for small business owners. While a DBA only changes the name of a company, they help accomplish other things, too. A DBA is an uncomplicated and cost-effective way for sole proprietors to use a fictitious name.
- LLCs and corporations benefit from DBAs. In Missouri, an LLC or corporation must file a DBA if they wish to use a name that is not the company’s legal name. An LLC would have to form separate incorporation for every business it buys without a DBA. For example, Marcy’s Meat LLC wants to open a deli meat shop named Nice and Thin. The LLC would file a DBA in Missouri to change the name. Nothing else about the deli meat shop changes, and it remains owned by Marchy’s Meat LLC.
- A DBA addresses the privacy concerns for sole proprietors and general partnerships. Without a Missouri DBA, a sole proprietor or partnership must use their personal name on public-facing material.
- A DBA makes business banking seamless. A best practice for new businesses is to open a separate business bank account from their personal bank account. It protects personal assets and credit scores in the case the business fails. Also, most financial institutions do require new business owners to file a DBA before opening a bank account in their company’s name. A DBA does not provide legal protection or liability protection.
- A DBA makes branding and marketing easier in Missouri. Your brand name is what catches the attention of your audience. The company name listed on your signage and business cards alerts people about what you offer. For example, had Mark Jackson not filed a DBA, no one would know he opened a pet supply store.
How to set up a DBA in Missouri
Step 1 – Missouri fictitious name search
Missouri DBA names do not have to be unique. However, they must meet the state requirements.
While Missouri does not require unique fictitious business names, it is still recommended to choose a distinctive name that best suits you and makes branding and marketing easy.
You will visit the Missouri Secretary of State’s Business Entity Search to check the availability of a DBA name.
Registering a DBA name in Missouri does not protect it from being used by others.
Step 2 – File your Missouri DBA with the Secretary of State
You will want to pay particular attention to the following:
- Are you filing DBA registration, renewal, amendment, or correction?
- The name you are registering.
- Contact information for owner(s)
- The owners’ charter number
600 W. Main St., Rm. 322
Jefferson City, MO 65102
PO Box 778
Jefferson City, MO 65102
Missouri Secretary of State: 866-223-6535
Step 3 – Pay Missouri DBA filing fees
The DBA cost in Missouri is $7. Missouri does not offer expedited services.
Your Missouri DBA expires after five years from the DBA registration date. You can renew online or complete the Registration of Fictitious Name and submit it by mail. You will check the marked box Renewal on the registration form.
The cost to renew your Missouri DBA is $7.
Missouri DBA name restrictions
In Missouri, a fictitious name can’t contain any of the following:
- Unless that is the actual business structure, business suffixes such as LLC, Incorporated, Inc, etc.
- Any words or phrases related to financial institutions such as a bank, bank, credit union, etc.
Forms needed to file a DBA in Missouri
Missouri DBA tax considerations
- In Missouri, a DBA only changes the name of a business. It has zero effect on the status of a business entity for tax purposes.
- You do not have to have a separate employer identification number. A DBA is not a legal entity.
- On a federal level, the IRS does not require that you have a separate tax ID number.
How much does a DBA filing cost in Missouri?
The filing for a Missouri DBA is $7 for all sole-proprietorships, LLCs, corporations, franchises, and non-profits.
You will renew your Missouri DBA every five years for a $7 processing 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.
The processing fee for amendments is $7. Missouri does not allow you to change the DBA name or ownership unless you file for a completely new DBA registration.
It takes Missouri 5-10 business days to process a DBA registration. The Missouri Secretary of State does not offer any expedited services.
You can drop off hard copies of the forms at the Missouri Secretary of State’s office.
You can call the Missouri Secretary of State office at (866) 223-6535 to inquire about office hours and procedures.
600 W. Main St., Rm. 322
Jefferson City, MO 65102
Missouri has no limits on how many DBAs you can have as long as you can pay and keep up with them.
You must follow the same guidelines and process for each DBA you apply for.