What is a DBA?
A trade name, fictitious name, or DBA (short for "doing business as") is a designation that some businesses seek out when they wish to do business under a name that is different from their original name. For sole proprietorships and general partnerships that means the business seeks to register a name different from the names of the proprietor or partners, and in the case of corporations, LLCs and similar entities it means a name different from the name chosen at the time of formation. In some states, including Georgia, the DBA designation process is carried out by the court system, in this case the County Superior Court Clerk's Office for the county in which the business seeks to operate.
When You Need a DBA
Typically, DBAs are required at the state level, but they can sometime be required at the local or county level as well. In Georgia the requirements for when you have to file for a DBA change from county to county. If you want to open a bank account in an alternative name, or complete transactions using the alternative name, then you’ll need to register that alternative name.
Setting Up a DBA in Georgia
Georgia is one of the states in which DBA designation procedures vary from county to county. As such, it is important to check with the county clerk in the county where the business is operating to get county-specific details.
That said, in every county the process should begin with a DBA county-wide search to determine whether or not the proposed DBA name is already in use in the county in question. If the name is in use, you won’t usually be able to register it. The search can usually be done at the county clerk office. There may also be county-specific forms, filing and registration requirements, and restrictions (e.g. no DBA or trade name can include “Company”, “Limited”, etc.)
Some counties may require you to publish notice of your proposed trade name in a local newspaper. The notice will have to run for a certain amount of time, usually several days or weeks. You’ll get a certificate from the newspaper proving you’ve properly ran the notice. The county clerk in your county will have further details.
Although Georgia is a county-by-county DBA designation system, there are certain common types of information that will be required by most counties. This includes:
Name of the person or company filing for a DBA
Principal place of business of the entity filing for the DBA
Trade name the entity seeks to register
County-specific documents required for filing, such as certificate of publication in a newspaper
Finally, DBA designations often must be renewed, and renewal is once again a county-by-county issue that must be dealt with as such.
Filing for a DBA in Georgia will not affect your company’s tax status.
If you’re ready to file a DBA, LegalZoom can help you get started today. We can help you file the paperwork with your state and can get you in touch with an attorney or tax professional to answer specific questions.