Do I Need a DBA for my LLC?

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A person or a company may want to conduct business under a name which is different from their legal name.

In such cases, this is known as “Doing Business As“, abbreviated as DBA.

The term DBA is used by the majority of states, however, each state has a different technical name. Here are the most common:

  • Assumed Name
  • DBA
  • Doing Business As
  • Fictitious Name
  • Trade Name
  • Trading As

Need to save time? We recommend hiring MyCompanyWorks ($99 + state fee) to file your DBA.

DBA Confusion

Most people are extremely confused when it comes to DBAs.

And most people make a lot of mistakes regarding DBAs, such as filing them incorrectly, and most often, filing them when they are not even needed.

Why is there so much confusion around DBAs?

We feel it’s because of 3 main reasons:

1. Most websites that sell DBA filing services fail to educate their readers or they just don’t care to.

2. There’s a lot of crap on the internet and there’s a handful of websites that just have no idea what they are talking about.

3. And frankly, it takes a lot of work breaking down and explaining DBAs. We’ve taken our best shot in this article, and we hope you find it helpful.

The 1st “Big Mistake” with DBAs

When most people register a DBA they think they “formed” a business and have protected their personal assets from liability, when in fact, they have not.

If someone files a DBA (which is owned by them), by default, they’ve chosen to operate as a Sole Proprietorship and have simply filed a “nickname” for themselves.

A Sole Proprietorship has no separate existence from its owner, so any person choosing to operate a business under their own name (or a DBA owned by them) is automatically a Sole Proprietorship.

Using the “nickname” analogy, let’s say John Smith registers a DBA called “John’s Painting Company”. John thinks he has an actual “company”, but he doesn’t. He has simply created a “nickname” for himself (his Sole Proprietorship).

So if someone sues “John’s Painting Company”, it is actually John Smith himself who is being sued personally. There is no actual “company”. John Smith and his “company” are legally one and the same.

Most people who think the above are usually at the beginning stages of researching how to start a business and they haven’t fully thought about, or understood, the differences in liability protection between a Sole Proprietorship and an LLC. For this reason, we also recommend reading LLC vs Sole Proprietorship.

A DBA “Sits on Top of”

The easiest way to think of a DBA is that it’s a “nickname”.

It’s a nickname that “sits on top of” either a person (like a Sole Proprietorship) or a legal entity (like an LLC or Corporation).

To better help understand this point, a DBA is often referred to as a Fictitious Name, meaning, it’s not a separate legal person or company. It rather “points to”, or represents, an actual person, or an actual company.

Let’s look at two examples of how a DBA “sits on top of” either a person or a company.

DBA for a Sole Proprietorship:

Let’s say we have John Smith and he wants to do business as a Sole Proprietorship, but doesn’t want to do business under his name John Smith. Instead, he needs to register a DBA. So he registers the DBA name “John’s Painting Company“.

The DBA “John’s Painting Company” is a nickname that “sits on top of” John Smith.

Said another way, “John Painting Company” and “John Smith” are one and the same.

DBA for an LLC:

Let’s say Megan Patterson is concerned about asset protection, so instead of operating under her own name as a Sole Proprietorship, she decides to form an LLC. She forms an LLC called “MP Enterprises LLC“, but she would like to do business under the name “Meg’s Flower Shop“. So her LLC registers the DBA name “Meg’s Flower Shop“.

The DBA “Meg’s Flower Shop” is a nickname that “sits on top of “MP Enterprises LLC“.

Said another way, “Meg’s Flower Shop” and “MP Enterprises LLC” are one and the same.

The 2nd Mistake with DBAs

True or false: an LLC has to file a DBA?

Answer: false.

Again, because there is so much confusion (and misinformation) in this industry about DBAs, many people think they have to file a DBA, even after they form an LLC.

While your LLC can file a DBA, it doesn’t have to.

Here’s the deciding factor:

Will your LLC operate and do business under its true and legal name? Or will your LLC operate and do business under a name that is different from what was registered with the Secretary of State?

• If your LLC will operate and do business under its true and legal name, then you don’t need to file a DBA.

For example: You form an LLC called “JDE Real Estate Management LLC” and you plan to operate the business under the name “JDE Real Estate Management LLC“.

By “operate“, we mean, this is the name on your marketing materials, your contracts and agreements, your business cards, your website, etc. Basically, anytime you are dealing with another person/company or advertising/displaying your company to the public, you are using your LLC’s true and legal name.

In this case, you don’t need to file a DBA for your LLC.

• If your LLC will not operate and do business under its true and legal name, but instead, wants to operate and do business under a different name, you will need to file a DBA for your LLC.

For example: You form an LLC called “JDE Real Estate Management LLC“, and you want to operate the business under the name “JDE Management“.

In this case, you will need to file a DBA and register the name “JDE Management” (which will be owned by JDE Real Estate Management LLC).

As another example: You form an LLC called “Christine’s Restaurant LLC“, but you want to operate under the name “Christine’s Restaurant” (without the “LLC”), then you’ll need to file a DBA and register the name “Christine’s Restaurant” (which will be owned by Christine’s Restaurant LLC).

Important: The above example of “Christine’s Restaurant” is not possible in all states. Some states will accept a DBA filed under the same name as an LLC; others will not. Because some DBAs are filed at the county-level (not at the state-level), there are over 900 jurisdictions in which DBAs can be filed in the US and the rules vary widely. For this reason, we cannot tell you if your state or county will allow this. If after reading this entire article, you decide that you want to form an LLC and register an “identical” DBA name (minus the “LLC”), you’ll need to call your state or county where you’re doing business to make sure your DBA filing will be approved. Thank you for your understanding.

Which should you choose… to DBA or not to DBA?

Unless your LLC really needs to do business under a different legal name than what you registered with the state, then we recommend against registering a DBA and just doing business under the LLC’s full and legal name.

The reason for this recommendation is that DBAs can lead to a lot of hassle, confusion, and extra costs.

For example:

  • The DBA is an extra filing, meaning extra paperwork and extra state fees (although they’re usually not very expensive).
  • Most states require you to renew your DBA, by filing paperwork and paying a state or county fee every year (or every few years).
  • Many states require you to publish a “public notice” of your DBA registration in the newspaper. This can be expensive, depending on what state and county your DBA will be registered.
  • If your state does not handle DBA filings, but instead they are handled at the county-level, you need to register your DBA in each county where you will do business. This could mean multiple filing fees, multiple newspaper publication fees, and multiple annual/renewal fees.
  • Having a DBA can often confuse the business owner when it comes to obtaining an EIN, opening an LLC bank account, and filing taxes, thus leading to a lot of mistakes in how things are set up, registered, and organized.

Having said all that, there are still a few reasons why someone with an LLC would still want to register a DBA. The examples below are not “all-inclusive” (these aren’t all the reasons why), but these are the most common reasons that we run across.

Dropping the “LLC”

When a business owner forms an LLC, but wants to operate and do business under the identical name (minus the “LLC”), then filing a DBA without the “LLC” in the name will be needed.

Reminder: There are 900 jurisdictions in which DBAs can be filed. Some states/counties allow LLCs and DBAs to exist with the “identical” name; others do not. You’ll need to call your state or county where you’re doing business to make sure your DBA filing with an “identical name” will be approved.

Multiple Businesses

It can sometimes occur that a business owner forms 1 LLC, but then runs multiple businesses (sometimes called “micro businesses”) all under that 1 “LLC umbrella”. In this example, you can register a DBA for each of the businesses.

However, if your businesses begin to grow (or your businesses are exposed to liability), it may be a better idea to form a separate LLC for each business for better asset protection.

Multiple Stores

Like the example above, some business owners run a few stores. They may have 1 LLC which owns all the locations, but they want each store name (and each store sign) to be different. In this example, you’d register a DBA for each store.

However, just like the above example, it may be wise to form separate LLCs instead of operating all your stores under one LLC (for better asset protection).

Franchise Owners

When a business owner buys into a franchise, the franchisor (via the franchise agreement) grants certain trademark name rights to the franchisee. And to protect their personal assets, it’s common that franchisees will set up an LLC. However, they need to do business under the name of the franchise. So for example, if you bought into the Dunkin’ Donuts franchise, you would form an LLC first (for example, “TRE Holdings LLC“), then you would register a DBA with your state (or county) called “Dunkin’ Donuts”.

Keep in mind though, the only reason you can use the name “Dunkin’ Donuts” is because you have a right to do so via your franchise agreement. On the other hand, if you register a DBA that infringes upon a company’s trademark rights, they have the right to sue you (even though the state approved your DBA filing).

How to Register a DBA

As mentioned earlier, there are over 900 jurisdictions in which a DBA can be registered.

For that reason (and also because we don’t focus on DBAs; we focus on LLCs) we haven’t included links to all 900 jurisdictions. That would be nuts!

If you want to file your DBA yourself, we first recommend you call the Secretary of State’s Office (in the state where your LLC will be registered) and ask them if DBAs are filed at the state-level or at the county-level.

You can find your Secretary of State’s contact information and website address here:
LLC University: All Secretary of State Business Entity Search pages

If DBAs are handled at the state-level, just ask the representative where you can find the filing forms and instructions.

If DBAs are handled at the county-level, then you’ll need to call your county clerk’s office and ask them for their filing forms and instructions.

Do I need a DBA for my LLC? FAQs

What are the disadvantages of a DBA?

The disadvantage of getting a DBA only (instead of forming an LLC), is that your personal assets aren’t protected. That’s because you’re really operating as a Sole Proprietorship or Partnership (and these structures don’t provide asset protection).

On the other hand, if you already have an LLC and want a DBA as well, there really aren’t any major disadvantages. A DBA can be used for branding or marketing purposes. Having said that, you might consider the extra paperwork, a filing fee (and in some states, a renewal fee) a “disadvantage”.

Can I change my LLC name?

Yes, of course. If a DBA doesn’t seem like the right solution, you can instead change the name of your LLC. We have step-by-step instructions on How to Change the Name of an LLC.

What is the point of a DBA?

The purpose of a DBA is to act as a “nickname” for your business.

For example, if you own Penny Bakery LLC you could file a DBA called “Penny’s Perfect Parfaits”.

Penny Bakery LLC still exists (and you can still do business under this name). However, you can now also do business under the name “Penny’s Perfect Parfaits”. And you can now print business cards and market your business under the name “Penny’s Perfect Parfaits”.

As far as your LLC bank account goes, it’ll still be under your LLC name. But you can add your DBA name to the account as well. This way you can deposit checks made payable to either your LLC name or your DBA name.

Again, the DBA is just a “nickname” for your LLC. Your LLC doesn’t go away. It’s just that your LLC can now do business under its original name, as well as your DBA name.

Matt Horwitz
Matt Horwitz
Matt Horwitz is the leading expert on LLC education, and has been teaching for 15 years. He founded LLC University in 2010 after realizing people needed simple and actionable instructions to start an LLC. He's cited by Entrepreneur Magazine, Yahoo Finance, and the US Chamber of Commerce, and was featured by CNBC and InventRight.
Matt holds a Bachelor's Degree in business from Drexel University with a concentration in business law. He performs extensive research and analysis to convert state laws into simple instructions anyone can follow to form their LLC - all for free! Read more about Matt Horwitz and LLC University.

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228 comments on “Do I Need a DBA for my LLC?”

Disclaimer: Nothing on this page shall be interpreted as legal or tax advice. Rules and regulations vary by location. They also change over time and are specific to your situation. Furthermore, this comment section is provided so people can share their thoughts and experience. Please consult a licensed professional if you have legal or tax questions.

  1. Hi Matt, how do I update from SP to LLC in California/LA county, If I already have a DBA name, but want to change from my name as sP to my company LLC? Do I just do an amendment or have to withdrawal and refile?
    Thank you this site is very informative.

    • Hi Victor, after you form an LLC, contact the Los Angeles County Registrar and ask if you can transfer/assign your Fictitious Business Name (FBN) from yourself to your LLC. If not, you’ll likely need to cancel (aka withdraw) the first FBN and then file the same FBN again, but this time, it’ll be owned by your California LLC. Hope that helps.

      • Hello Matt, I’m new to a lot of this and I was wondering if i already applied and received my EIN# but have a name I am using for my company but also put a dba name in the dba field on the application do I have to register the dba when moving forward with the llc or can I just register the llc name

        • Hi Mateen, it’s a bit hard to follow. Would you mind re-asking the question but using the actual names (or dummy names) for the LLC and DBA (or DBAs).

  2. Hi Matt!

    I just found your website the other day, and it is easing some of the anxiety I have about starting a business. I am planning on starting an online business to help save money toward opening a brick-and-mortar in WA state. The name I want to use for the brick-and-mortar will not make sense for the online business.

    My plan is to create an online store to sell t-shirts and other merchandise.
    My brick and mortar can sell what will be in the online store, but ultimately it will be a fiber-arts (yarn, tools, classes) store.
    I don’t really want to deal with two separate businesses.
    Would it make the most sense to start my LLC with the brick-and-mortar name and do a DBA for my merchandise store? Then, once the brick-and-mortar store is open, I would like to eliminate the DBA and have a webstore and brick-and-mortar under one name. Is it easy to get rid of a DBA when it doesn’t serve me anymore?

    Thank you for your time and the education your site provides.

    • Hey Sarah! So glad to hear that :) And apologies for my slow reply. Yes, it’s really easy to cancel (aka withdraw) a DBA name. There’s two ways you could go about this. First, just as you said: create the LLC with the brick and mortar name and then file a DBA for the online store.

      Another option is to DBA both names. For example, you could create an LLC called “Fiber Holdings LLC” (or “Fiber World LLC” or “Sarah Enterprises LLC”; anything really) and then file a DBA for the brick and mortar location and a DBA for the online store.

      Basically, with the second option, it separates the branding/marketing from the LLC name (and might take some stress away from having to “perfectly name” your LLC). Hope that helps!

  3. Hi Matt,
    Great read! I have a single-member LLC for a virtual restaurant in CA. The LLC is named MJ’s Eatery LLC. I’d like to market on social media, menu and business cards as MJ’s Eatery with a tag line ‘Philly Cheesesteaks and more’. Do I have to file a DBA with my local county? I will use the LLC name for bank accounts, contracts i.e. legal documents and taxes.

    Lastly, I will have multiple menu concepts that will operate separately under different names i.e. MJ’s Italian or MJ’s Asian Cuisine. Will I need to file for a LLC per concept or a DBA through MJ’s Eatery LLC?

    • Wondering something similar about multiple onloje stores, did you figure it out

      • Hi MT, we got a bit swamped with comments and questions, but I just replied to MJ.

    • Thanks MJ! DBAs aren’t always enforced. Having said that, it it were me – and given the circumstance – I’d use MJ’s Eatery LLC for all business activities… and I’d file a DBA for MJ’s Eatery, MJ’s Italian, and MJ’s Asian Cuisine. Hope that helps.

  4. Hi Matt!

    LLC University is amazing, thank you for this great contribution to the internet!

    Many people know me professionally by simply my birth name and I am starting an LLC under a distinct name of its own. I anticipate still getting business through my birth name, however, and through my personal website that is just my birth name .com. If I add the new LLC name to the bottom of my personal website (and presumably transfer ownership over to the LLC) am I in compliance, or do I need to stop doing business through my personal website and make one for the LLC instead? Do I need a DBA for my birth name held by the LLC? I am confused.

    • Hey Zach! Thanks so much man!! No, you don’t have to stop doing business through your personal website. No, you don’t need a new website. And no, you don’t need a DBA name for your birth name :-) You can simply operate your existing website (no matter what the URL is) through your new LLC.

  5. Hi Matt,

    Great article! I’m getting ready to file for my LLC in Washington state and found out that the name I want for my retail clothing company is taken by a real estate company. Can I register my LLC as a different name and use a DBA to still represent my company’s desired name? It’s not trademarked federally.

    (Not my actual company name)
    Ex. Desired LLC: Tiny Spoon (taken)
    Proposed LLC: Tiny Spoon Kids dba Tiny Spoon

    Or as an alternative…if I have to register my LLC as Tiny Spoon Kids, am I still able to drop the kids in my branding materials (logo, website, packaging, hang tags, business cards, etc.)?


    • As a quick follow-up – using my same example as above:

      Desired LLC: Tiny Spoon LLC (taken)
      Proposed LLC: Tiny Spoon Kids, LLC dba Tiny Spoon

      Also, I checked the Washington State DBA requirements. If I’m reading it correctly, WA state requires all LLCs to have a DBA. In this case, the taken Tiny Spoon LLC is dba Tiny Spoon LLC. I’m wondering if that gives me a greater chance of being able to register my dba is Tiny Spoon w/o the LLC.

      Thanks again!

      • Hey Kat, thanks! And thanks for all the details. Super helpful to process and think about with the example names you provided. First, Washington (in fact, no state) requires an LLC to have a DBA. And you’re correct. As long as there’s no trademark, you can form an LLC called “Tiny Spoon Kids LLC” and then register a DBA for “Tiny Spoon”. Hope that helps :)

  6. I am so glad to be reading your replies, and this might be redundant as well.

    I have registered an LLC at the SOS. I went ahead and completed the Business License in my county for a virtual counseling practice. I am torn about adding a DBA. My plan is to provide all services virtually (i.e. Counseling therapy, Supervision of aspiring LPCs, and Education/Training services. Did I need a Business License in my county? The LLC may not be as clear to indicate counseling, so I am not sure whether to add a DBA, which would be a different name but with “Counseling” in the name.

      • Hi Felicia, I don’t fully follow. To make sure I can write a good reply, can you use the existing and proposed names (or fake examples)?

        • Thank you for replying. XYZ LLC has been formed with the SOS office. XYZ LLC was formed with the intent of all services being conducted virtually. If a DBA is not being formed, is the LLC’s formation enough to conduct business statewide or only in the city or county of residence of the LLC owner?

          • Ah, I follow now, thanks! Your LLC is totally enough to do business (no need for a DBA)… not just statewide, but even nationwide and international. You’re not bound by your city or county of residence. Hope that helps!

            • Hooray!!!! Thank you so very much for hanging with me to figure help me understand and it out!!!

              • You’re very welcome Felicia! DBAs are kind of weird and it certainly took me a while to wrap my head around them LOL ;) Happy to help!

  7. This is helpful. I registered a new business name in the same industry that is somewhat similar to a trademarked name on the West Coast. I discovered this after and proactively reached out to the business to ask them what direction they wanted me to take and they asked me not to use it. If I register a totally different DBA name am I safe to operate under that new name?

    • Hi Dermot, can you share the names of your LLC, the DBA name, and the trademark name (or fake examples that are really similar)? This will help me write a better reply.

      • Hi Matt – My name is The Scoop Master, LLC and their name is ScoopMasters and ScoopMasters is trademarked. I get why it might be trouble as it is the same industry (pet waste cleanup) although we are on opposite coasts. They are offering me a licensing agreement to operate but I’m just thinking I could create a totally different DBA name (that isn’t trademarked obviously) and do business under that?

        • Hi Dermot, thanks, that’s very helpful. In this case, one could easily argue that your LLC is infringing on their federal trademark. So just having a new DBA is likely not enough. I’d change my LLC name, or dissolve the LLC and form a new one.

  8. Hi Matt,

    If I form a DBA for my LLC, when I go to bill a client, send them paper work, or need to send insurance, will the DBA be the only name seen or will my LLC name be on that paper work.

    • Hi Mike, typically on legal paperwork, like a contracts and agreements, you’ll often see the DBA name and the LLC name. For example, ABC Shipping and Logistics LLC dba Speedy Shipping Services.

      • Will the DBA name and LLC name need to be on Property that is purchased under the DBA name?

        • Hi Kay, generally speaking, purchase agreements involving a DBA owned by an LLC would include both names in the contract. For example, “ABC Widgets LLC dba Crafts & More”. However, if you’re talking about real estate, it’s most common to just have the purchase agreement (and eventually the title) just be in the name of the LLC.

  9. Hi! Thank you for this explanation. I just want to ensure I’m understanding correctly and also ask a question:

    So, if I have XYZ Ventures LLC, which was formed to conduct transport services and now I want to venture into real estate, can I create XYZ Property Ventures LLC as a DBA and operate in that arena once I’ve set up a separate bank account ? Also, would I need another EIN for that DBA?

    • Hi Tisha! You’re very welcome. No, that wouldn’t be correct. A DBA would not include the “LLC” designator. That can only be used by an LLC. If you have an LLC called XYZ Ventures LLC and you want to do business under a DBA Name, the name would have to be something like XYZ Property Ventures (without the “LLC”).

      And as far as banking, you can either have one account or two. It’s up to you. If you have one account, you’d be able to deposit checks, for example, made out to both XYZ Ventures LLC and XYZ Property Ventures. You just need to provide the bank the DBA paperwork in addition to the LLC paperwork when you open an LLC business bank account. Alternatively, you could have two bank accounts. The first account would be in the name of XYZ Ventures LLC. The second account would be in the name of XYZ Ventures LLC and its DBA, XYZ Property Ventures. And no, you shouldn’t get a new EIN for a DBA. Only the LLC would have an EIN. Same thing applies if there was an LLC with 8 DBA Names. There would still just be one EIN Number.

      Having said all that, it might not be a good idea to use 1 LLC in this case. This is because, generally speaking, both real estate and transportation services have more liability risk than other businesses. So if you had them both under 1 LLC, a lawsuit in one business could affect the other business’s assets. It may be more advantageous to form 2 separate LLCs; one for real estate and one for transportation. If you formed two LLCs, they would each need their own EIN and their own bank account. Hope that helps.

  10. Hello Matt,

    This information was helpful but I had a question. I am opening a small business and using Paypal as my invoice/payment platform because it helps keep everything in one place and gives me tax forms at the end of the year. I registered on PayPal as a sole proprietorship with my name. My website has a different name though, would I need to file a DBA?


    • Hi Destiny, it’s a bit of a gray area, meaning, it’s not strictly enforced. Technically, if you’re doing business under a name that’s different than your legal name (or legal entity’s name), you’re supposed to register a DBA. However, if you’re going to register a DBA for your Sole Proprietorship, it might be easier – and better – to just form an LLC (and therefore, you don’t need a DBA; if you do business under the LLC). What state are you in?

      • I am in Georgia. Also I want to make sure no one else has my name, is registering for a DBA a way to protect me?

        • Hi Destiny, okay, nice! Georgia is a really easy and straight-forward state when it comes to LLC formation (unlike other states). The filing fee and annual fee are also very reasonable. To answer you question, no, a DBA doesn’t offer any protection in its name. An LLC would prevent someone from using the same name in Georgia. However, looking out into the future, if your business grows, you can protect your business, brand, and/or product name by filing a federal trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). However, trademarks are more expensive, take longer, and can be complicated. So for those reasons, I recommend hiring a trademark attorney. And if you do decide to form an LLC in Georgia, you can make your LLC the owner of your trademark (as opposed to you owning it personally).

          • Thank you.

            I wanted to know if I wear to make like a “Grand Opening” announcement for my business, ex: Its 3/12/23 and I make a announcement, my business will officially open for business on 5/1/23.

            Could I do this even though I haven’t finished doing all the registering and dba registriation yet?

            Destiny Estrada.

            • You’re welcome. Yes, you can definitely make that type of announcement. It’s not dependent on your LLC or DBA paperwork.

              • Thank you!!

                I also had another question, sorry for all the questions!

                Do I register for DBA before registering the business? And I am planning to have a Event planning and Rental business, would I need a business license?

                Thank you!

                • You’re welcome! When you say “register the business”, I’m not sure what you mean. That statement can be interpreted a few ways. Do you mean form an LLC? If you’re going to form an LLC (and you want a DBA), you’d form the LLC first, wait for it to be approved, and then file for a DBA. This way, the DBA is owned by the LLC.

                  The same thing goes for a business license. If you need a license, you’ll want to form the LLC first, wait for it to be approved, register your DBA (and wait for it to be approved), and then get your business license. This way, the business license is in the name of the LLC (and the DBA, if asked for). You’ll need to contact your city to check on any Georgia LLC business license requirements.

                  • I am just doing a DBA not LLC. When you get your DBA does this automatically register the business? I am not sure, I am just trying to clear everything because I am getting mixed things showing up online.

  11. Hi Matt! This was the most helpful website that I have found about LLCs & DBAs so thank you for all of your information! After reading everything that you wrote, I’m thinking that I maybe don’t want to do a DBA now, but I’m stuck on dropping the LLC. I don’t mind to work under my company name with the LLC added after, but is it required for me to have the LLC everywhere? Like would I have to have it in my logo as well? Or could I just have it everywhere else but the logo is just my company name without the LLC after it? Thanks so much for all of your helpful information!

    • Thanks so much Dayna! No, you don’t need “LLC” in your logo. Just look at any company with good branding. Corporate designators (endings) are rarely in logos. Hopefully that gives you some relief!

  12. Hi Matt,
    Thank you very much for all those information about LLC, I understand better now !
    There is just one thing I am confused with, it’s about liability.

    This is what I understood :
    1) If I am sole proprietor, I am liable.
    If I register a DBA, I am still liable because DBA is just a “nickname”.

    2) If I create an LLC, I am personaly protected because the LLC has limited liability.

    3) But now what I am confused with is :
    If I create an LLC, let’s say XYZ LLC.
    and XYZ LLC registers a DBA name, let’s say TOOLS4YOU.
    If I do business only with TOOLS4YOU, website, terms and conditions, marketing, invoices, contracts with suppliers or resellers, etc.
    In fact, clients never see the name XYZ LLC.

    In that case (doing business only with TOOLS4YOU)
    am I still personnaly protected the same way if I was doing business with XYZ LLC ?

    • Hi Josh, an LLC with a DBA is really just an LLC with a nickname. Said another way, an LLC with a DBA has the same legal protection that an LLC without a DBA has. While clients may not see an LLC name, it would arise if any legal issue came up. You can also put “XYZ LLC dba TOOLS4YOU” on the legal pages of your website.

  13. This is embarrasing, but I’m concerned. I’ve been operating a home-based, sole proprietorship business in Dallas county, Texas since 2001. My business personal property is limited to the hand tools I use repairing the equipment I work on in my home-based shop. I have never received a business property tax bill from Dallas county. I didn’t realize the DBA I filed in Dallas county in 2001 was only in effect until 2011, so it needs to be renewed. Could I be liable for back taxes on business property? Also, I do not own the home I have always operated from, and have always just been a renter.

    • Hey Kevin, the DBA filing won’t trigger a tax audit. However, it’s a good idea to speak to an accountant about any outstanding business personal property tax returns, even if they are late.

  14. Thank you so much for this article! I have been searching on and off for the last month about whether I needed to register a DBA for my LLC (rEVOLution llc). Your clearly laid out article answered all of my questions and more! Seriously, thanks! Now I know how to proceed. <3

    • You’re very welcome Natalie! DBAs and LLCs can be really confusing lol. Happy to hear we’ve helped and you’re now on your way ;-)

  15. If I am organized in IL but am registered to collect sales tax in other states, do I need to file a DBA in all states I am registered in? What if I have employees in other states? Thank you so much!

    • Hi Tricia, if you have an LLC in Illinois, no, you don’t need a DBA in states where you collect sales tax. And no, you don’t need a DBA in states where you have employees. However, you do need to register your Illinois LLC as a Foreign LLC in states where you have employees. Hope that helps.

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