What is a DBA?
When a business wants to operate under a different name (known as a trade name) that business may need to file to ‘do business as’ (DBA). Filing for a DBA allows the company to register their secondary name with the state and makes the name a fully legal name for operating purposes.
When you need a DBA
Under Pennsylvania law, a DBA registration is not formally required with the Secretary of State. That said, there are penalties associated with failing to register.
For example, an unregistered company may not enforce a contract using the courts of Pennsylvania if the contract was signed using the fictitious name. Failure to register does not actually void the contract; the contract remains valid but enforcement of the contract is impossible until the entity actually registers the fictitious name.
Furthermore, a Pennsylvania court may impose a $500 penalty, payable to the Pennsylvania Department of State, in such cases where the entity wishes to enforce the contract but has not yet registered the name, but subsequently registers the fictitious name in an untimely fashion.
Registering a trade name also allows the company to open bank accounts using the new name, receive payments to the new name, and otherwise do business with that name.
Setting up a DBA in Pennsylvania
Setting up a DBA begins by searching for the business name in the state records to see if it is available. You can do that here.
Keep in mind that there are a number of restrictions associated with the filing of a fictitious name, including but not limited to various prohibitions relating to the use of words indicating an academic institution, engineering firm, banking institution, cooperative, architecture firm, or insurance company.
Pennsylvania DBA filing & registration
You will need to provide the DBA designation to be used, a brief statement relating to the type of business to be transacted, the address of the principal place of business, and any other requested information.
The requested information may change depending upon whether the entity is a sole proprietorship or corporation, so filers should be mindful of the form instructions when completing the form.
Furthermore, there are specific requirements relating to publication of the DBA designation in Pennsylvania, specifically for sole proprietorship filers.
Getting a trade name registered by filing a DBA doesn’t change how your company is taxed.
If you want to file a DBA in Pennsylvania, LegalZoom can help you. We can prepare and file the paperwork, search for available business names, and get you in touch with a business attorney to answer specific questions about your company.