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Most often secured for brand-related matters, a DBA, or “doing business as,” is a registered name that a business files with either the State or the County whenever that company does business under another name rather than its legal registered name. A DBA is also often referred to as a “trade name,” an “assumed name” or a “fictitious name.”
There are two types of DBA: forced and elected.
A forced DBA is used when a company is filing paperwork to qualify to do business in another state and their registered name is not available in that state due to another company using it, state restrictions, or other reasons. Forced DBAs are filed at the time of qualification to do business and generally are added directly to the qualification document, although some jurisdictions do have additional requirements. Forced DBAs generally exist in perpetuity, although there are a few exceptions.
An elected DBA is used when the company wants to use another name rather than their registered name. Elected DBAs can exist in perpetuity, or they can expire, based on the jurisdiction where they are filed. Elected DBAs are added via a filing that can be done at any time, not just when qualifying to do business in a state. Elected DBAs can also be filed for the company in its home jurisdiction (forced DBAs are only filed in jurisdictions where they are qualified to do business there).
DBAs that do not exist in perpetuity must be renewed. The duration of a DBA varies from state to state. Failure to renew causes the DBA name to be available for another business to take, so it is imperative that elected DBA names are filed in a timely fashion to prevent them from expiring. Beyond losing the name, losing a DBA can impact branding, signage, marketing materials, and countless other costly efforts.
Keeping your DBA active is an essential service that Incserv can provide for you. We keep track of everything, including where your DBA is filed, what jurisdictional office to file with, what form to use, what the fees are, and when the DBA expires. We reach out before filing to ensure we have the most up to date information as possible. And we always send proof of the filing to you so you can be sure your DBA is secure. In addition, if you sign up for this service, we waive the housing fee so you are only paying for the renewal.