What is a DBA?
If a business wants to operate with a different name than the one used to form the business, it may have to register the new name (called a trade name or fictitious name). This process is often called filing for a DBA, or doing business as. For example, if “Frank’s Hot Dogs LLC” wants to do business as “Best Hot Dogs in Town” then the owners have to file a DBA.
When you need a DBA
Washington law requires all businesses file a DBA when they are using a name other than their legal name (the name used to form the business). Getting a DBA also allows a business to open bank accounts, enter into contracts, and otherwise use the new name to operate the business.
Please note that registering a DBA name doesn’t give you any sort of trademark rights to that name. Trademarks are primarily governed by federal law, so even if you can register ‘McDonald’s’ as your DBA, you should expect a legal challenge if you try to use that trademarked name in commerce.
Setting up a DBA in Washington
Filing for a DBA begins with a business name search, which can be done here. You want to make sure the name you’d like to use isn’t already registered, if it is then you’re blocked from registering that name for yourself and you’ll need to pick a new name.
Washington DBA Forms
Go here to complete the online application process. While completing the paperwork, you’ll be asked to indicate the type of entity you are filing for, the trade name or names for which you are filing, the state of incorporation or formation, the name and contact information of all owners of the business, and questions relating to the business activities of the company itself.
Getting a trade name registered by filing a DBA doesn’t change how your company is taxed.
When you are ready to get a DBA in Washington, LegalZoom can help you. We can search the state business name database to find conflicts, file your paperwork, and even get you in touch with an attorney to help you with specific questions.