A DBA is an abbreviated version of ‘doing business as.’ A DBA is any registered business name that a business or individual uses to do business that is not the legal name.
The legal name of a company varies depending on the business structure. The legal name is the company name for limited liability companies or LLCs. And, the legal name for sole proprietors and partnerships defaults to the owner’s personal name.
DBAs are commonly referred to as fictitious business names, trade names, or assumed names. A DBA only changes the name of your business and nothing else.
For example, if you own a business, the legal name is your name (e.g., Will Johnson). Will Johnson wants to open a corner bar. He understands that he can’t use his own name, Will Johnson, because people won’t know what services he offers. So, Will Johnson registers the DBA name Will’s Swill. It has now become the name of the business. The DBA changes nothing else about the structure of Will’s Swill.
The DBA allows Will Johnson to do business under an assumed business name, and it no longer defaults to his personal legal name.
DBA vs assumed business name
- Companies in all industries can register a DBA, including sole-proprietorships, LLCs, corporations, franchises, and non-profits.
- A DBA and an assumed business name are the same things.
- Businesses that operate using a name that isn’t their legal name do so using an assumed business name or DBA.
- A DBA is only an alias, but it must be associated with a separate legal entity.
Who needs a DBA?
Montana requires that all sole proprietors, partnerships, incorporations, LLCs, and out-of-state companies file a DBA if they regularly do business in the state using a name different from its legal name.
Also, a DBA benefits you in a variety of other ways. The pros are dependent on your legal business entity and your personal preferences.
- New businesses. The state of Montana requires that new businesses obtain a DBA if they are operating using a name that isn’t the owner’s name. A DBA is still the best way for small business owners to operate a business using an assumed business name.
- Sole proprietors. Sole proprietors share the same entity with their businesses. It means they also share a name unless you file a DBA.
- LLCS. Without a DBA, an LLC must form a new company to do business using a different name other than the company name.
- Corporations. Corporations that intend to operate a business using a name that is not their company must file a DBA. Commonly, corporations use DBAs to open and operate companies different lines of business.
- Franchises. Franchises utilize DBAs to operate under a name that is not the company’s name. For example, if you buy into a Red Robin’s franchise, it is formed as an LLC and listed as 568 Red Robin’s LLC. In order to tidy the name to Red Robin’s, you must file a DBA in Montana.
A DBA benefits small businesses and startups the most because it gives entrepreneurs or business owners the creative freedom to name their companies. Without a DBA, a smaller business would have to form an expensive and complicated LLC to just have a new name.
Why do you need a DBA?
- A DBA keeps things simple for small businesses. A DBA is the best way for a sole proprietorship to operate using an assumed business name without forming a separate LLC or corporation.
- A DBA benefits your LLC or corporation. A DBA allows an LLC the freedom to do business using a different company name without forming a separate LLC for every business they purchase and operate. For example, Flowers and Seeds LLC opens a small flower shop. The name of the shop is Flowers For You. In order to open and operate a flower shop under an assumed business name, the LLC must register a DBA in Montana.
- A DBA protects the privacy of sole proprietors and general partnerships. Without a DBA, a sole proprietor or general partnership would have to put their personal legal names on public-facing material. A DBA does protect your legal and personal name. However, a DBA does not offer any liability protection by itself.
- A DBA separates the owner from their business. Alone, a DBA alone does not offer any legal protection. However, a DBA proves that your personal assets are separate from your business assets to protect your assets and credit scores. A DBA also reduces your personal liability.
- A DBA simplifies business banking. Most banking institutions require a business to register a DBA before opening a business bank account.
- A DBA makes branding and marketing easier in Montona. The assumed business name you choose for your business is what makes the first impression on customers. The business name on signs and business cards lets your audience know who you are. Without a DBA, Will’s Swill would just be Will Johnson and not have a brand name to advertise in Montana.
How to set up a DBA in Montona
In Montana, all sole proprietorships, general partnerships, corporations, LLCs, LPs, LLPs, or out-of-state companies that operate using an assumed business name must file a DBA with the Montana Secretary of State.
Step 1 – Montana assumed business name search
Montana requires that a registered name be unique and meet the state requirements.
You will first check for name availability using the Montana Secretary of State’s Business Search Website.
Step 2 – File your Montana DBA
You will file your DBA online using the Secretary of State’s ePass website.
The assumed business name application will ask for important information, including:
- A description of your business
- Business structure, such as the sole proprietor, LLC, LLP, etc.
- Accurate contact information
Step 3 – Pay Montana DBA filing fees
The DBA cost in Montana is $20. You will submit payment by debit or credit card with your completed application.
Montana does offer expedited services for an additional fee. It is $20 for 24-hour processing and an additional $100 for a 24-hour DBA application turnaround.
Montana DBAs expire after five years and requires renewal. You will renew your Montana DBA online and pay the $20 filing fee.
Montana Secretary of State: 406-444-2034
Montana DBA name restrictions
- Montana does require that all DBA names be unique.
- Business entity suffixes, including LLC, Incorporated, Corp, etc., unless the business is actually an LLC, corporation, etc.
- Any words related to banking institutions such as bank, trust, savings & loan, etc.,
- Any words that imply you’re doing business for a non-permitted purpose.
Forms needed to file a DBA in Montana
Montana DBA tax considerations
In Montana, a DBA only changes the name of a business. It has zero effect on the status of a business entity for tax purposes, and the IRS does not require a separate tax ID.
How much does a DBA filing cost in Montana?
In Montana, a DBA costs $20 for sole proprietors, LLCs, and corporations to file for a DBA.
Montana does offer expedited services for an additional fee. The cost is $20 for 24-hour processing and $100 for a 24-hour DBA application approval.
A Montana DBA expires after five years. The fee for renewing a DBA after five years is $20.
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 Montana Secretary of State takes 7-10 business days to process a DBA registration.
Montana does offer expedited services. For $20, you can get your DBA processed in 24 hours. And, for $100, Montana will process your DBA in 24 hours.
You can register as many DBA names as you want or need to in Montana. You will follow the same process for each DBA and pay the same processing fees.
You can change your Montana DBA name using the Secretary of State’s ePass website.
The processing fee for making amendments to your DBA in Montana is $20.
You can cancel or withdraw your assumed business name in Montana using the Secretary of State ePass website.
There is no cost for canceling your Montana DBA.
An EIN is only used for tax purposes. A DBA, or assumed business name, is a business alias. You are not required to get a separate Employer Identification Number for a DBA.
A DBA and a trademark are two separate and different things.
A DBA allows a company to use an assumed business name instead of the legal name of a business in a particular state.
A trademark is an intellectual property registration and protects branding and marketing on a larger level.
You can trademark a DBA to protect a brand name from state to state. However, it is a time and money investment.