The business acronym DBA is an abbreviation for ‘doing business as.’ A DBA is any registered name that a business or individual uses to do business under that is not the legal name.
The legal name of a company is different depending on the structure. For LLCs and corporations, it defaults to the company’s name. For sole proprietors and co-partnerships, the legal name is the full personal name of the individual(s) that owns the company.
A DBA is often referred to by other terms, including a fictitious name, assumed name, or business trade name. In Vermont, it is most commonly called an assumed business name.
For instance, if you open a business, the legal name will be your name (e.g., Bruce Johnson). Bruce Johnson is opening a flower, tree, and plant nursery. He does not want the name of his nursery to be his own name. So, Bruce Johnson registers a DBA name in Vermont to change his business name to Bruce’s Spruces. The assumed business name is now the name of his flower, tree, and plant nursery.
The Vermont DBA changes nothing else about Bruce’s Spruces.
The DBA only allows Bruce Johnson the ability to operate his business using an assumed business name.
DBA vs assumed business name
- An assumed business name is how businesses operate using a name that is the business’ legal name.
- The only difference between a DBA name and a business trade name is that a DBA is only an alias.
- A DBA must be associated with a separate legal business entity.
- A DBA and a business trade name are the same things.
Who needs a DBA?
In Vermont, all businesses other than LLCs and corporations must file a DBA to operate under a name that is not the business’ full legal name.
Many businesses benefit from a DBA. The pros of a DBA depend on the business structure and the personal preferences of the owner(s).
- New businesses. Vermont requires all new businesses to register a DBA when using a different name to operate. Vermont DBA registration is a recommendation for all new businesses.
- Sole proprietors. A business and its owner are the same legal entity. It means that they share a legal name unless you register a Vermont DBA name.
- LLCs. In most states, without a DBA, every new business an LLC operates would do so under the LLCs full legal name. However, Vermont does not. Registering an assumed business name allows an LLC to expand and operate part of its company outside of the LLC’s name.
- Corporations. Often, corporations buy and operate businesses in various industries. In many states, Incorporations must file a DBA to do business using a different name regardless of the type of business in most states. However, Vermont does not mandate that corporations must register a DBA.
- Franchises. Most franchisees utilize DBAs. For example, if you buy a franchise. Chevron ExtraMile is an LLC. It means that a new convenience store franchise will be listed as 6489 Chevron ExtraMile LLC. You must register a Vermont DBA to change the name of the franchise from the numerical listing to just the name of the convenience store. The DBA does not change anything else about the franchise.
A DBA allows small business owners and startups the creative freedom to name their businesses. A DBA also gives small businesses the benefit of avoiding the cumbersome process of forming and registering a separate LLC just to use a new name.
Why do you need a DBA?
- Small businesses can keep things simple with a DBA. Registering a DBA is an easy and affordable way for sole proprietors to use an assumed business name without the overly complex process of forming an LLC to operate using a name other than the full legal name.
- In most states, limited liability companies or incorporation benefits from a DBA. An LLC would have to form separate companies for every business it buys in most states in the US. For example, Mick’s Rubber LLC wants to open a tire factory. It is a separate business from the LLC. In most states, Mick’s Rubber would have to file a DBA to change the business name to Skid No. The DBA changes nothing else about the business or LLC.
- A DBA protects the privacy of sole proprietorships and general partnerships. A DBA allows business owners to use an assumed business name on public-facing material instead of their full legal names.
- A DBA keeps business banking straightforward. Most banks and financial institutions require bussinesses to file a DBA before allowing them to open a business bank account. It is safest to open a bank account for a new business because it separates your business banking account from your personal business account. It is recommended to protect personal assets and credit scores. A DBA by itself offers no legal protection or personal liability protection.
- A DBA is also your brand name. When you choose a business name, you’re also choosing your brand name. What you put on your signs is what lets your customers know what you’re offering. For example, had Bruce Johnson not filed a DBA in Vermont, no one would know he opened a plant nursery.
How to set up a DBA in Vermont
Step 1 – Vermont assumed business name search
All Vermont DBA names must be unique and meet the state requirements.
You will visit the Vermont Corporation Division Business Name Search and check for assumed business name availability.
Step 2 – File your Vermont DBA with the Secretary of State’s Corporation Division
The DBA registration forms will ask you specific questions about your business:
- The assumed business name you’re registering.
- Your principal office contact information.
- The name of the owner(s).
- A description of the purpose of the business.
Vermont Secretary of State’s Corporations Division: 802-828-2386
Step 3 – Pay Vermont DBA filing fees
The DBA cost in Vermont is $50. Your assumed business name expires every five years and requires renewal.
You can renew your Vermont DBA online, and the processing fee is $40.
Vermont DBA name restrictions
In Vermont, a DBA name can’t contain any of the following:
- Business entity suffixes such as LLC, incorporation, Inc, etc., unless it is your actual business structure.
- Finance-related words like bank, banker, credit union, etc.
- Words that insinuate or imply any governmental affiliation.
- Any words or phrases that defame any group or person.
You can find a complete list of Vermont restrictions for DBA names.
Forms needed to file a DBA in Vermont
Vermont DBA tax considerations
- In Vermont, registering a DBA only changes the name of a business.
- Registering 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 separate legal entity.
- The IRS does not require that you have a separate tax ID number.
How much does a DBA filing cost in Vermont?
The DBA filing fee in Vermont is $50. It expires every five years and requires renewal.
The DBA renewal fee is $50.
The Vermont Secretary of State Corporation Division does not offer any expedited services.
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 Vermont 7-10 days to process a DBA registration. However, if you file online, it can take less than a day.
The Secretary of State Corporation Division recommends filing your DBA online.
Vermont does not offer any expedited services.
If you’re trying to change your assumed business name, you will need to submit a new DBA registration.
You can make all other changes to your Vermont DBA online using the Secretary of State’s website.
The processing fee to make amendments to your DBA is $20.
You can cancel your Vermont DBA online using the Secretary of State’s website.
The processing fee to withdraw your DBA is $20.
- In Vermont, you can register as many assumed business names as you need or can maintain.
- You must follow the same process when you register for every DBA.
- The Vermont Secretary of State Corporation Division must approve all assumed business names.
- A DBA and a trademark are two different things.
- Registering an assumed business name in Vermont protects others in the state from using the same one.
- A DBA allows businesses to use a fictitious business name that is not their legal name.
- A trademark is a type of intellectual property registration that protects a business’ brand.
- A trademark does protect your brand name in both the state and the country.