Doing Business As (DBA)

By Entrepreneur Staff

Doing Business As (DBA) Definition:

The operating name of a company, as opposed to the legal name of the company. Some states require DBA or fictitious business name filings to be made for the protection of consumers conducting business with the entity.

A company is said to be "doing business as" when the name under which they operate their business differs from its legal, registered name. Some states require dba or fictitious business name filings to be made for the protection of consumers conducting business with the entity.

If you're starting a sole proprietorship or a partnership, you have the option of choosing a business name or dba ("doing business as") for your business. If you want to operate your business under a name other than your own (for instance, Carol Axelrod doing business as "Darling Donut Shoppe"), you may be required by the county, city or state to register your fictitious name. (Note: No fictitious business name may include the words "corporation," "Inc.," "incorporation" or "Corp." unless it's a corporation registered with the Secretary of State.)

Procedures for filing for a fictitious name vary among states. In many states, all you have to do is go to the county offices and pay a registration fee to the county clerk. In other states, you also have to place a fictitious name ad in a local newspaper for a certain amount of time. The cost of filing a fictitious name notice ranges from $10 to $100. Your local bank may also require a fictitious name certificate to open a business account for you; if so, they can tell you where to go to register.

In most states, corporations don't have to file fictitious business names unless the corporations do business under names other than their own. Incorporation documents have the same effect for corporate businesses as fictitious name filings do for sole proprietorships and partnerships.

More From Starting A Business

Fictitious Name Certificate

A legal document showing the operating name of a company, as opposed to the legal name of the company. In the case of a corporation, a fictitious business name is any name other than the corporate name stated in its articles of incorporation.

Doing Business As (DBA)

The operating name of a company, as opposed to the legal name of the company. Some states require DBA or fictitious business name filings to be made for the protection of consumers conducting business with the entity.

Business Incubator

An organization designed to accelerate the growth and success of entrepreneurial companies through an array of business support resources and services that could include physical space, capital, coaching, common services, and networking connections

Business Name

The name by which people know your business. Different from your dba--which is the legal name you register for your business, this is the name you'd use to advertise and sell your products and services.