The abbreviated business term DBA means ‘doing business as.’ A DBA is any registered name that a company or person utilizes to do business that is not its legal name.
The legal of a business differs depending on its business structure. For limited liability companies (LLCs) and incorporations, the legal name is the company’s name. The legal name defaults to the business owner or owners’ personal name for sole proprietors and partnerships.
DBAs are also commonly called fictitious names, trade names, or assumed business names. In Ohio, a DBA is most commonly referred to as a trade name.
For example, if you own a business, its legal name is your own name (e.g., Henry Roberts). Henry Roberts wants to open a landscaping business. He knows he can’t use his own legal name because people won’t know what he offers. So, Henry Roberts files a DBA name in Ohio for Henry’s Crabgrass. It is now his business trade name. The DBA changes nothing else about Fred’s Flowers’s business structure or legal entity.
Henry Roberts now operates under the new name Henry’s Crabgrass and no longer defaults to his personal legal name. The DBA changes nothing but the name of the business.
DBA vs business trade name
- In Ohio, a DBA is most commonly called a trade name.
- A trade name, or DBA, is how companies operate using a name that isn’t their legal name in Ohio.
- A DBA is only an alias.
- A DBA has to be associated with a legal business entity.
- A DBA and a trade name are the same things.
Who needs a DBA?
In Ohio, all sole proprietors, LLCs, partnerships, and corporations register a DBA name if they intend to operate a company under a trade name that isn’t its legal name.
A DBA benefits all types of businesses. The benefits are dependent on your business entity and personal preferences.
- New businesses. Ohio mandates all new businesses to file a DBA if they wish to operate using a business trade name.
- Sole proprietors. In Ohio, all sole proprietorships and partnerships must register a DBA if they wish to operate using any name that is not the owners’ own name. Without a DBA, the business name defaults to the owner’s personal name because they share the same entity with the company.
- LLCS. LLCs regularly expand and operate businesses with different names. In Ohio, your LLC must file a DBA if you intend to operate a business using any name that isn’t your company’s name.
- Corporations. Corporations use DBAs when they open and operate businesses in different industries. In Ohio, corporations that want to run a business using a name that is not their company must file a DBA name.
- Franchises. Franchisees use DBAs every day. For example, if you purchase a Carl’s Jr. franchise, it is formed as an LLC and listed as 4547 Carl’s Jr. LLC. You file a DBA in Ohio to shorten the business’s name from its numerical listing.
Small business owners and startups benefit from filing a DBA in Ohio. It allows individuals to name their business what they want without the hassle of forming a separate LLC just to use a trade name.
Why do you need a DBA?
- A DBA helps small business owners and startups avoid the hassle of forming an LLC. A DBA is a straightforward and inexpensive way for a sole proprietorship to operate using a trade name.
- LLCs and corporations benefit from DBAs. A DBA allows LLCs the freedom to operate various businesses without forming a separate LLC for each company they purchase. For example, if Tim’s Bottling LLC opens a soda shop. The LLC must register the DBA name Spritz and Stuff.
- A DBA addresses the privacy concerns of sole proprietors and co-partnerships. Sole proprietors and general partnerships must put their personal names on public-facing material unless they register a DBA name in Ohio.
- DBAs separate your personal assets from business assets. A DBA does not offer any legal protections or liability protection. However, a DBA does prove that your business assets and personal assets are independent of each other, which decreases personal liability.
- A DBA keeps business banking simple. Banks and financial institutions require that you file a DBA to open a separate business bank account. Opening a different business account also protects personal assets and credit scores.
- DBAs make branding and marketing easier in Ohio. The name of your business, or brand name, is the first thing that a customer notices. For example, customers would not know that Henry Roberts ran a landscaping business without an Ohio DBA.
How to set up a DBA in Ohio
Step 1 – Ohio trade name search
Ohio DBA names must be unique and meet the state requirements.
You will check the Ohio Secretary of State’s Business Name Search website for name availability.
Step 2 – File your Ohio DBA with the Secretary of State
The Name Registration form includes important sections including:
- The business structure of your company (LLC, general partnership, corporation, etc.)
- A general description of your business and its intentions.
- The contact information of all business owner(s).
Ohio Secretary of State
PO Box 670
Columbus, OH 43216
Ohio Secretary of State: 614-466-3910
Step 3 – Pay Ohio DBA filing fees
The DBA cost in Ohio is $39.
An Ohio DBA does expire. You must renew your Ohio DBA every five years. The cost of renewal is $25.
Ohio DBA name restrictions
- Business entity suffixes such as LLC, incorporation, Inc, etc., unless it is your actual business structure.
- Words related to banking institutions, such as a bank, bank, trust, etc., without prior approval from the Ohio Superintendent of Financial Institutions.
- Any language or words that falsely imply or insinuate state or federal government affiliation
- Phrases or words considered profane or slurs against an ethnic group, religious group, or gender.
Forms needed to file a DBA in Ohio
Ohio DBA tax considerations
- In Ohio, a DBA only changes the name of your business.
- A DBA has no effect on the status of a business entity for tax purposes.
- You do not have to have a separate employer identification number because a DBA is not a legal entity.
- The IRS does not require that you have a separate tax ID number.
How much does a DBA filing cost in Ohio?
The filing fee for an Ohio DBA is $39. Ohio does offer expedited services for an additional cost.
- 2-day processing – $100
- 1-day processing – $200
- 4-hour processing -$300
An Ohio DBA expires after five years. You will need to renew your trade name for a $25 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 Ohio Secretary of State takes 3-7 business days to process a DBA registration.
Ohio does offer expedited services.
- 2-day processing – $100
- 1-day processing – $200
- 4-hour processing – $300
- A trade name and fictitious business name are different in Ohio. However, both use the same registration form.
- The most significant difference between the two is that a trade name must be unique and distinguishable, while a fictitious name does not have to be.
- A business can use a fictitious business name in Ohio without registering it. You must register a trade name.
- It is why registering a trade name in Ohio offers far more protection than a fictitious name. And a trade name addresses all of the concerns of a business owner.
In Ohio, you can register as many assumed names as you desire. You must follow the same process with each one and be approved by the Ohio Secretary of State.
- A DBA and a trademark are two separate things.
- A DBA allows you to use a trade name that is not the legal name of your business.
- A trademark is an intellectual property registration that protects your business’ brand name.
- A trademark protects your brand name both federally and on a state level.