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
Wisconsin law requires all businesses to file a DBA when they are using a fictitious business name. Despite being the law, filing for a DBA also allows the company to open bank accounts, write contracts, and otherwise operate using the fictitious name.
Setting up a DBA in Wisconsin
Start the process by checking to see if the name you want is available. The Wisconsin corporate records database found here.
Be aware of some requirements for business names in Wisconsin, including:
the name used may not include the flag, coat of arms, or insignia of the United States of America, or of any state or municipality or any foreign nation.
The name must be distinguishable from other registered DBAs.
For corporations, the name must be distinguishable not only from other DBAs, but from a variety of different businesses operating within the State of Wisconsin. Check with the Wisconsin Secretary of State for more details.
Wisconsin filing and registration
When completing the paperwork to file your DBA, you will need to provide the name of the business entity as it was originally formed, the proposed DBA to be registered, the principal place of business of the entity in question, and the general purpose of the business.
Getting a trade name registered by filing a DBA doesn’t change how your company is taxed.
When you are ready to file a DBA in Wisconsin, LegalZoom can help you. We can search the state business name database to find conflicts, file your paperwork, and can even get you in touch with an attorney to help you with specific questions.