The acronym DBA stands for ‘doing business as.’ A DBA is a registered name that a company or individual uses to do business under a name that is not their legal name.
The legal name of a company is different depending on the structure. For a limited liability company (LLC), it defaults to the company’s name. And for sole proprietors, the legal name is the name of the individual that owns the company.
For instance, if you open a business, the legal name will be your name (e.g., Becky Jones). Becky Jones wants to open a spa and doesn’t want the name of the business to be Becky Jones. So, she files a DBA to change the name of her business to Becky’s Bubbles. Becky’s Bubbles then becomes the name of the business, but nothing else about Becky’s Bubbles changes. The DBA just gives Becky Jones the freedom to operate under her assumed business name.
DBA vs assumed business name
In Texas, a DBA is most commonly referred to as an assumed business name. It is the legal name under which your company does business and is required by the state.
A DBA and an assumed business name are precisely the same things.
DBA vs business name
- An assumed business name, or DBA, is how companies operate under a name that is not their legal name.
- The legal name is the name of the business.
- Companies in all industries can register a DBA name. That includes sole-proprietorships, LLCs, corporations, franchises, and non-profits.
- The only difference between a DBA name and a business name is that a DBA is just an alias. It has to be associated with a legal business entity.
Who needs a DBA?
All corporations, limited liability companies (LLCs), limited partnerships, and limited liability partnerships must file a DBA in Texas.
Sole proprietors are not required to have a DBA in Texas. However, it is still best business practice to file a DBA.
- New businesses. Texas does not require that new businesses file a DBA. But, it is still the best way to operate a business under a name that is not the legal name. When a new business registers an assumed business name in Texas, it doesn’t prevent others from registering that same name. It does act as a private record and notice that you’re using the name, too.
- Sole proprietors. A business and its owner are the same entity. Therefore, they share a name unless you file a DBA.
- LLCs. In Texas, a DBA is a requirement for all LLCs. Without a DBA, every new business an LLC purchases and manages would do so under the official and legal name. Also, registering an assumed business name allows an LLC to expand and operate part of their company outside of their legal name.
- Corporations. Regularly, corporations own and operate businesses in various industries. Texas law requires that all corporations file a DBA. A corporation must file a DBA to do business using a different name from the corporation’s legal name.
- Franchises. Most franchises utilize DBAs. For example, if you buy an Applebee franchise. Applebee is an LLC, and a new franchise would be listed as “456 Business LLC”. To change the franchise from its listing to simply Applebee’s, you will need to file a DBA to let Texax know that you’re ‘doing business as’ the franchise you’re now an owner of.
DBAs allow business owners 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 make a name change.
Why do you need a DBA?
- A small business can keep things simple with a DBA. DBAs only change the name of a company. However, they accomplish other things, too. Filing a DBA is an easy and cost-effective way for sole proprietors to use an assumed business name without the complication of forming an LLC or corporation.
- DBAs benefit LLCs and corporations. Texas requires that all LLCs file a DBA. Also, a limited liability company would have to form separate DBAs for every business it buys without a DBA. For example, Joe’s Produce LLC wants to open Leafy Love restaurant. The LLC would file a DBA to change the name, but Leafy would remain owned and operating by Joe’s Produce LLC.
- DBAs protect the privacy of their owners. DBAs give business owners the freedom to use an assumed business name on public-facing material rather than using their personal legal name.
- DBAs make business banking safer and easier. 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 in case your business fails. Most banks require new businesses to file a DBA before opening a bank account in the business name.
- DBAs make branding and marketing easier. Branding is how your business stands out against all the rest. The business name listed on your business cards and signage lets potential clients and customers know what you’re selling. For example, had Becky Jones not filed a DBA, no one would know her business was a spa.
How to set up a DBA in Texas a sole proprietorship or General Partnership
Step 1 – Texas assumed name search
In Texas, registering an assumed business name does not prevent other people or businesses from registering the same DBA name. However, it does act as a public record and notice that you are using the assumed business name.
When registering a DBA in Texas, the first thing you want to do is to visit the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts and search for the DBA name you wish to use. Even though multiple businesses can carry the same assumed business name in Texas, you will still want to find a unique one.
Step 2 – FIle the DBA in Texas with the County Clerk
Texas law requires all sole proprietors and partnerships to file an Assumed Name Registration with the county clerk’s office you wish to operate within to operate under a DBA.
The Texas Secretary of State website gives you the contact information for each county.
Example – Harris County
Search their assumed name database if you plan to operate a business using a DBA name in Harris County. The application differs depending on how many business owners there are.
The next step is to complete the Assumed Name Registration and file it with the Harris County Clerk. You can submit it by mail or in person. Harris County has ten locations where you can drop off the application.
Harris County Clerk
P.O. Box 1525
Houston, TX 77251-1525
Step 4 – Pay Texas filing fees
The price of a DBA in Texas varies from county to county. The average cost for a DBA for a sole proprietor is around $15. and $.50 for any additional owner listed.
How to file a Texas business DBA for an LLC or corporation
LLCs and corporations are required to file a DBA in Texas. The process for filing is different and applies to the following:
- For-profit Corporations
- Non-profit Corporations
- Professional Corporations
- Professional Associations
- Limited Partnerships
- Limited Liability Partnerships
- Limited Liability Companies
- All Foreign Filing Entities
Step 1 Texas assumed name check
For LLCs and corporations, the first thing you want to do is to visit the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts and search for the DBA name you wish to use.
Step 2 – File a Texas assumed name certificate
If your business is incorporated and in Texas, you are required to set up a DBA with the Texas Department of State.
The Texas Assumed Name Certificate form will ask for your new DBA name and the information about your business. Texas requires that you file the form in duplicate.
You must file the Assumed Name Certificate by mail, fax, or in-person.
James Earl Rudder Office Building
Austin, Texas 78701
P.O. Box 13697
Austin, Texas 78711-3697
When paying by fax and a credit card, you must fill out Form 807 with your credit card information.
Step 3 – Pay Texas filing fees
The cost for an LLC filing a DBA is $25. You can pay by cash, money order, or credit card.
Texas requires that a notary of the public notarize the Assumed Name Registration.
Texas DBA name restrictions
In Texas, an assumed business name can’t contain any of the following:
- Words that people could confuse your business with a governmental agency (FBI, Treasury, State Department)
- Words that insinuate or imply that your company is organized for unlawful reasons.
- The terms lotto and lottery are prohibited.
- Words that insinuate or imply that a business was created by or for the benefit of armed forces veterans or their families. The specific terms that are prohibited include veteran, legion, foreign, Spanish, disabled, war, and world war.
- Restricted words such as a bank, attorney, or university will require additional forms and a licensed person in those areas to be an owner.
Forms needed to file a DBA in Texas
- Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts website
- Texas Secretary of State
- Texas County Clerks Database
- Form 02-07 Assumed Name Registration for 1-2 Owners
- Form 02-07A Assumed Name Registration for 4-13 Owners
- Form 02-07B Assumed Name Registration for 14 or More Owners
- Assumed Name Certificate Form
- Form 807 for Credit Card Payments
- Form 504 – Abandonment of Assumed Name Certificate
Texas DBA tax considerations
In Texas, DBAs only change the name of a business. It has zero effect on the status of a business entity for tax purposes.
How much does a DBA filing cost in Texas?
The filing fees in Texas depend on the county a business it is doing business within. The average cost for a sole proprietorship is $15 for the first owner and $.50 for each additional owner.
Texas does offer expedited services for an additional $25.
You can register a DBA in Texas for 1 to 10 years. You must renew it after the expiration date for the same price as the original filing.
For LLCs and corporations, the filing fee in Texas is $25.
If you wish to withdraw your DBA in Texas, you must file Form 504 – Abandonment of Assumed Name Certificate to the Texas Secretary of State. The filing fee for the form is $10.
You will have additional fees for the required notarization, and the cost depends on what the notary public charges.
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.
Texas state law does not require sole proprietors to file a DBA. However, any incorporated company must file a DBA if they wish to operate a business that is not their legal company name.
You don’t have to have a separate EIN. DBAs are not business entities.
The Secretary of State processes typically non-expedited forms within 5-7 business days. There are Expedited services available for an additional $25 per document, which are generally processed by close of business the following day.
An assumed business name that you choose is an essential part of branding, and it costs almost nothing.
You should pick a unique and distinctive name that represents you and your business while alerting customers of who you are with just a glance.
Texas does not require that your DBA name be distinct, and more than one person can share the same name. However, the more unique the name, the better.
It is best practice to search for an available domain (URL) name to make marketing and branding easier.