What is a DBA Corporation?

Bill C.

A DBA corporation is a legally incorporated organization operating under a name other than its legal corporate name. DBA is an acronym for “doing business as.” A corporation operating as a DBA entity is also known as one using a fictitious name, a fictitious business name, a trade name, or an assumed name. Registered corporations and corporations operating as limited liability companies, limited partnerships, limited partnerships, and limited liability partnerships can operate as a DBA corporation after fulfilling the necessary legal requirements. Requirements usually vary from country to country, region to region, state to state, and locality to locality.

A DBA allows a person or group to legally do business under a different name.
A DBA allows a person or group to legally do business under a different name.

Organizations operating in DBA fashion typically do so for branding purposes. A typical example of a DBA corporation would be a local company called Sam's Southern Style Fried Chicken in a southern state but whose legal national name is Samantha's Fried Homestyle Chicken Inc. The Sam's name permits the company to position its products with a local flavor while retaining all the legal advantages of a large corporation.

Companies typically opt to start a DBA corporation to keep from incurring the often high cost of incorporating in multiple locations. When registering as a DBA corporation, however, many states do require the organization to register as a “foreign corporation” before starting to conduct business. This does not constitute establishing a new business entity.

Once a corporation goes through the steps necessary to “do business as” in an area, it is generally permitted to do everything under its assumed name that a fully incorporated business entity does. It can, for example, open and use a bank account; accept and disburse payments, including those by credit card; list business phone numbers; print advertising and promotional documents; operate web sites; and conduct virtually all necessary business transactions. A company's legal corporate name must be used, however, on all federal and local government forms and applications, including applications for sales and operating licenses, permits, and employer tax identification numbers.

Filing as a DBA corporation usually involves a local authority ensuring that there is no other company operating with the same name. Once permission to register as a DBA corporation is granted, the registration generally entitles the company to use that name to sell specified products or services within a limited geographic area. The length of time during which a company can operate as a DBA corporation varies from location to location. Some local governments require that DBA registrations be renewed at specific intervals to ensure no one else can do business under that name.

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