The business acronym DBA means ‘doing business as.’ A DBA is a registered name that a company or personal 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. It is most commonly called a trade name in West Virginia.
For instance, if you open a business, the legal name will be your name (e.g., Connie Williams). Connie Williams wishes to open a cat clinic. She does not want her business’s name to be her own name. So, Connie Williams files a DBA West Virginia to change her business name to Connie’s Cat Haven. The business trade name is now the name of her business.
The West Virginia DBA changes nothing else about Connie’s Cat Haven. It just gives Connie Williams the freedom to operate her business using a trade name.
DBA vs business trade name
- A trade name, or DBA, 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 trade name are the same things.
Who needs a DBA?
In West Virginia, all sole proprietors, partnerships, corporations, LLCs, LPs, and LLPs register a DBA name if they wish to operate a business using any name other than its legal name.
Most businesses benefit from a DBA. The benefits of a DBA depend on the business structure and the personal preferences of the owner(s).
- New businesses. In West Virginia, new businesses must acquire a DBA before operating using a different name. West Virginia 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 name unless you file a DBA in West Virginia.
- LLCs. In West Virginia, an LLC is required to register DBAs. 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 company name.
- Corporations. Often, corporations purchase and operate businesses in various industries. Incorporations must file a DBA to do business using a different name from the corporation’s legal name In West Virginia.
- Franchises. Most franchisees utilize DBAs. For example, if you buy a Salad Station franchise. Salad Station is an LLC. It means a new franchise would be listed as 2798 Salad Station LLC. To change the franchise from its numerical listing to simply Salad Station, you would have to register a DBA in West Virginia. Nothing else about the franchise changes.
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?
- A DBA keeps things cheap and simple for small businesses and startups. Registering a DBA in West Virginia just changes a company’s name. Registering a DBA is a cost-effective and straightforward way for sole proprietorships to use a trade name without the over-complicated and expensive process of forming a separate limited liability company.
- A DBA will benefit your LLC or incorporation. An LLC would have to form separate companies for every business it buys in the absence of a West Virginia DBA. For example, Stuart’s Drywall LLC wants to start a construction company that is a separate business from the LLC. The LLC will file a DBA to change the name to Building Up. The DBA changes nothing else about the construction company.
- A DBA addresses the privacy concerns of sole proprietors and general partnerships. A West Virginia DBA allows business owners to use a trade name on public-facing material rather than their full legal name.
- A DBA makes business banking straightforward. Most financial institutions require companies to file a DBA before opening 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 your brand name. The name you choose for your business, or brand name, is the first thing someone notices. A DBA name alerts your audience to what you’re offering. For example, had Connie Williams not filed a DBA in West Virginia, no one would know she opened a cat clinic.
How to set up a DBA in West Virginia
Step 1 – West Virginia trade name search
Registering a DBA name in West Virginia does not prevent others from using the same trade name.
However, it is recommended that you choose a unique name. All DBA names must meet state requirements.
You will search the West Virginia Secretary of State’s website and check for trade name availability.
Step 2 – File your West Virginia DBA with the Secretary of State
You will file your DBA online using the WV One Stop Business Portal or by completing the appropriate form and submitting it by mail or in person.
Sole proprietors and partnerships will use the Sole Proprietorships and General Partnerships DBA Registration form.
All other business structures will file the Corporations, LLCs, LPs, and LLPs DBA Registration form.
The DBA form will ask for specific information including:
- The trade name you are registering.
- Your contact information
- The address of your principal office.
- Charleston Office
One-Stop Business Center
1615 Washington Street East
Charleston, WV 25311
- Clarksburg Office
North Central WV Business Center
200 West Main Street
Clarksburg, WV 26301
- Martinsburg Office
Eastern Panhandle Business Center
229 E. Martin Street
Martinsburg, WV 25401
Secretary of State Business Division phone number: 304-558-8000
Step 3 – Pay West Virginia DBA filing fees
West Virginia has no DBA filing fee for sole proprietors and general partnerships.
The DBA cost in West Virginia for all other business structures is $25.
The state does offer expedited services for an additional fee.
- 24-hour: $25
- 2-hour: $250
- 1-hour: $500
West Virginia trade names do not expire or require renewal.
West Virginia DBA name restrictions
In West Virginia, a trade name can’t contain any of the following:
- Business entity suffixes such as LLC, incorporation, Inc, etc., unless it is your actual business structure.
- The words banking or insurance unless the business is in that sector.
- The word engineer in any form unless the company is in that sector.
Forms needed to file a DBA in West Virginia
- West Virginia Secretary of State’s website
- WV One Stop Business Portal
- Sole Proprietorships and General Partnerships DBA Registration form
- Corporations, LLCs, LPs, and LLPs DBA Registration form
- DBA Withdrawal form for Sole Proprietorships and General Partnerships
- DBA Withdrawal form for Corporations, LLCs, LPs, and LLPs
West Virginia DBA tax considerations
- In West Virginia, a DBA only changes a company’s name.
- 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 West Virginia?
West Virginia does not charge a DBA filing fee for sole proprietors and general partnerships
The DBA cost in West Virginia for all other business structures, LLCs, corporations, and LLPs is $25.
West Virginia does offer expedited services at an additional cost.
- 24-hour: $25
- 2-hour: $250
- 1-hour: $500
West Virginia trade names do not expire or require renewal.
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 West Virginia 5-10 business days to process a DBA registration.
The state does offer expedited services – 24-hours, 2-hours, 1-hour.
You must file a new DBA registration if you wish to make changes to your trade name.
You can withdraw your West Virginia DBA online using the WV One Stop Business Portal.
Or, you can complete the appropriate form and submit it by mail or in person.
- In West Virginia, you can register as many business trade names as you desire.
- You must follow the same DBA registration process with every DBA.
- The West Virginia Secretary of State must approve all trade names.