Main Guide: Starting a Business.
Register Your Business Name
When you form a business, the legal name of the business defaults to the name of the person or entity that owns the business. If you choose to name your business anything other than your own personal name, then you'll need to register it with the appropriate authorities.
For example, consider this scenario: Martin Smith sets up a roofing business as a sole proprietorship. Rather than operate under his own name, Martin instead choose to name his business: "Martin Smith Roofing". To be legally compliant, Martin will need to register "Martin Smith Roofing" with the appropriate local government agency.
This process is known as registering your “Doing Business As” (DBA) name.
Do I Need a “Doing Business As” Name?
A DBA is needed in the following situations:
- Sole Proprietors or Partnerships – If you wish to start a business under anything other than your real name, you’ll need to register a DBA so that you can do business as another name.
- Existing Corporations or LLCs – If your business is already set up and you want to do business under a name other than your existing corporation or LLC name, you will need to register a DBA.
The legal name of your business is required on all government forms and applications, including your application for employer tax IDs, licenses and permits.
How to Register your “Doing Business As” Name
Registering your DBA is done either with your county clerk’s office or with your state government, depending on where your business is located. Only a few states do not require the registering of fictitious business names.
You can view a directory of relevant state agencies here.