What is a DBA?
If the owners of a company want to do business using a name that is different from the original name used to form the business, they must register the secondary name. For sole proprietorships and partnerships the original name is the actual name of the owner or partners.
This secondary name doesn’t replace the original name but acts as an additional, legal name for the business. This name is known by several terms such as trade name, fictitious business name and assumed name. The process for filing this name is often called filing for DBA registration, or doing business as.
For example, if John Smith, owner of a sole proprietorship wants to do business as “Best Carpet Cleaner” rather than ‘John Smith’ then he has to file a DBA.
When you need a DBA
In Missouri it is required by law that any business doing business under a name other than their legally registered name will have to file a fictitious name, or DBA, registration with the Missouri Secretary of State.
In addition to being required under state law, there are also a number of prudential reasons to register the entity's DBA. For example, a company may wish to operate under different names in different states, or may seek to avoid being confused with another company whose name is similar to its own.
Sometimes filing for a DBA can also help a business obtain a bank account under the DBA designation rather than the "true" name. Finally, having some official documentation of the name used in commerce with other businesses can offer some reassurance to those businesses, as they will likely want to know that the company they are entering into a contract with is legitimate.
Setting up a DBA in Missouri
Filing a DBA usually starts with a name search to see if another business has already registered the name you want, however Missouri law does not prevent businesses from using the same name. This is because there is no name protection under the Fictitious Name Act.
As a result a DBA name search is not technically necessary in order to comply with state law. That said, there are reasons to avoid choosing a name that is already in use in the State of Missouri. Doing so can reduce other legal liabilities, such as those associated with trademark infringement or unfair and/or deceptive trade practices, and can also serve to differentiate a company from other companies in the marketplace.
Missouri DBA Forms
Those looking to file for a Missouri DBA designation can apply for one online by clicking here. The Department of State will also accept paper applications delivered to any of the Corporations Division branch offices. The link to the paper application that must be printed and sent can be found here.
Missouri DBA Filing & Registration
Applicants will need to include the address of the entity's principal place of business, names and addresses of the owners of the entity, and the business name or DBA to be registered. The DBA registration lasts for five years, after which point it must be renewed.
Getting a trade name registered by filing a DBA doesn’t change how your company is taxed.
Are you ready to get a DBA? LegalZoom can help you get started today. We can help with the paperwork and can also get you in touch with a business attorney to answer specific questions about your DBA.