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What is a DBA? Do I need one for my business? If so, how do I get one?

Oct 21, 2009
DBA stands for “doing business as.” It’s known in some states as an “assumed name certificate.” Your DBA is an assumed or fictitious name under which you conduct business.

In many instances, a DBA is required before you can obtain a state or local business license. With a DBA, you can use your assumed business name when opening a business bank account, making payments to suppliers, receiving payments from customers, and entering legal contracts.

In some states, DBA registration is conducted with a state agency, such as the secretary of state. In other states, you register your assumed name at the county level, usually with the county clerk’s office.

You can call your county clerk’s office to find out how DBA registration is handled in your locality.

After you determine where to register you DBA, you must search through the agency’s database to confirm that the business name you want isn’t already taken. These databases may be on computer, paper or microfiche. Searching the databases is usually free.

When you confirm that the business name you want is available, your next step is to complete and submit a simple form. You’ll also have to pay a nominal fee for filing a DBA. The fee generally runs from $10 to $50. Filing your DBA gives you legal claim to the business name.

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