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. Hello,

    I have created an LLC and will be running an online only ecommerce store, but in a particular niche so my website name is not my LLC name. I have indicated in my terms of service on the website that the site is owned and operated by my LLC and an billing statements customers receive will be from my LLC. Do I need to register a DBA just because my website and the logo for the site is separate from my LLC?

    • Hi Rachel, it’s hard to tell exactly without looking at the site. However, most of the time, a DBA wouldn’t be needed for something like this.

  2. Hi Mark – I really like the info you are providing for all of us, you are amazing. I have a quick question, so my partner and I will register our company name (LLC) in south carolina but we are going to be doing ecommerce from PA and SC. The question is, do we need to register the DBA twice (one in Pa and one in SC)?

    Also, if we are using our LLC name as the DBA name but without the LLC do we need to register a DBA?

    Thank you!!!

    • Thanks Anto! You’re very welcome. Yes, typically, if you’re using the LLC name without the “LLC”, you should register the DBA. However, in South Carolina, there is no state-level DBA filing (usually called an Assumed Name in South Carolina). However, you’ll want to check with the city and county where you’re doing business to see if they have a registration requirement. If not, your LLC can simply use the DBA names as you wish. Is any business being conducted in PA? If so, the South Carolina LLC should be registered as a foreign LLC in PA. But that’s if you’re running the business from PA too… not just selling products into PA. Hope that helps.

  3. Hi Mark – you are amazing and so helpful! One more question that I have – if I file a DBA in my county for my son’s LLC – the LLC names is so different than what the DBA would be so we thought better to do it. Example, LLC is entertainment, the DBA would be for selling earrings. If the selling is all done on the internet, then do I have to file a DBA in every state? I was not sure reading the information above. Can we just do it in our county?
    Thank you!!

    • Hey Lisa, you’re very welcome! Great question. No, you wouldn’t file a DBA in every state (that would be crazy lol). The DBA is just filed where the LLC is doing business. Think of that as where the LLC is doing business from… not where all the customers are located. Hope that helps :)

  4. Hi Matt,

    Such a helpful website as I just set up first LLC, thank you!

    My question is, if i have an ecommerce store with a domain name different from my LLC name and plan to private label the items I am selling, do I need a DBA for the name of the private label? I would like the domain name and private label to match.

    Thank you for any help you can provide!

    • Hi Erica, you’re very welcome! Typically, a DBA isn’t needed for just having a domain name. Most domain names don’t match the name of the LLC (it’s rare to see “llc” in a domain name). If it’s just a product, you don’t need a DBA. A DBA is used if the LLC is doing business under a name that is different than its true/legal name. Having a product isn’t doing business. It’s just a product’s name. Hope that helps.

  5. Matt,
    My head is swimming from all this. I have a question about being practical in naming a company when it is new and I’m not sure where the journey will lead.

    I’m starting a permit-running business but it may grow into other areas. I’m afraid to name it “Permits-R-Us” which could be very narrow and limiting. Is it better to name it something more generic like “Documents Are Us” with a URL like “” — allowing for branching into handling other document types besides permits?

    One of your answers above said someone with a URL that was a little different from the LLC might need further consideration (John Smith was the example). A not-exactly-matching URL is not a good thing???

    I have complete analysis paralysis over this decision!

    Thank you in advance; I have so much to do…

    • Hi Diana, this is totally normal ;) There is a lot to think about. Take your time with all this.

      First, let’s unpack this: You’re talking about 3 things. An LLC name, a domain name, and a brand name. While all three can be the same, they don’t have to be.

      For example, the LLC name can be a bit more generic sounding. Something like RT3 National Logistics LLC, Logical Research LLC, Permitting Services LLC, ABC Retrieval LLC (actually, retrieval is hard to spell). I’m just making stuff up. But I think you see where I’m going. Something powerful and all-encompassing. The LLC name will kind of “sit in the background”.

      Then the LLC can file a DBA for the brand name. For example, “Permits R Us”, “Documents R Us”, “ABC Permit Services”, “National Docs & Permits”, etc. This allows you to experiment and pivot, if needed. It’s a lot easier to cancel a DBA name and file another one than it is to change an LLC name (file an amendment with the Secretary of State, update the Department of Revenue, update the IRS, update the bank, debit card, credit card, etc.). Additionally, you can have multiple DBAs, so your LLC can do business under the names “Permits R Us” and “Documents R Us” (or more if needed).

      From a branding perspective, we have an article that may help: How to come up with a good LLC name?

      And the domain name can be whatever you want. For example,,,, The domain name can exactly match the brand name, it can be similar, or it can be completely different.

      p.s. I don’t recommend a hyphenated domain name. They are a bit challenging from a marketing perspective. Many people will forget the hyphens. And if you’re talking or recording a podcast or a video, saying “docs, dash are, like the letter r, dash, us, dot com” is often too much information for someone to remember.

  6. Hi Matt, great site, and even more impressed with your thoughtful comment responses. A huge help.

    Anyway, I have an LLC in California, with fictitious names filed under it.

    Per a similar question above, to what extent does the LLC need to be disclosed when doing business under DBA/fictitious name?

    I understand stating the LLC on website terms of use, footer, etc. but what about with social media profiles, eBay store, etc.? Is it enough to simply use the fictitious name as the username and description, or does the LLC need to be stated somewhere too? If so, doesn’t that eliminate the purpose of the DBA?

    • Thank you Vance! For things like eBay username and social media usernames, those can be your DBA name or whatever you want. In that context, yes, the DBA isn’t necessary. However, if there are other ways in which your LLC does business under the DBA name, then the DBA name is necessary to have. For example, marketing materials, signage, company information, etc.

      • Excellent! Yeah, totally get that part. Was just meaning, if you had to make sure your LLC was stated everywhere like eBay and social media (like “XYZ LLC, DBA Name Here), then that seems to take away from a big reason you’d get the DBA in the first place. Hope that makes sense. Either way, sounds like you can just go with the DBA name on such profiles. Thanks!

        • Ah, I hear you. Yeah, if you have a DBA, you wouldn’t need to have “XYZ LLC dba My Online Shop” as your eBay or social media name ;)

  7. Hi Matt,

    I registered my one-member LLC (in New York State) thru Northwest early this month and got an EIN number. Now I want to register a DBA under my LLC, by myself, and got some questions in filling out the form.

    (1) Principal place of business in New York State: do I have to fill out Northwest address or my real home address?

    (2) Capacity of Signer: this is an one-member LLC, myself, then should I check out for Manager of the LLC, or, Member of the LLC ?

    (3) Filer’s name & mailing address: it should be just my name and home address, correct?

    (4) At the end of the application, it says “Note: You are not required to use this form. This certificate should be prepared under the guidance of an attorney”. What is this supposed to mean? Can I ignore it?

    Thank you!

    • Hi Jennifer, it sounds like you are filling out the New York Certificate of Assumed Name.

      1. You can use either address you’d like.
      2. Your LLC is most likely a Member-managed LLC. So you’d be a “Member of the Limited Liability Company”.
      3. You can enter your own name or your LLC name. And you can use your home address or Northwest’s.
      4. Yes, you can ignore this. Basically, the form meets the statutory requirements. However, if you wanted to create your own form, you could (as long as it met the statutory requirements). Hope that helps.

  8. I am just doing graphic design services for a realtor. I do not advertise online or anything. She needs me to create an invoice of everything I’ve done so that she can give it to her account. I use my name as my business name on the invoice. Do I need to get a DBA or any certification? Do I need to pay taxes?

    • Hi Ashoy, no, you don’t need to get a DBA. It’s not required for operating as a Sole Proprietorship. You can simply do business under your name. Yes, you’ll want to report the income you made from this client (and any other clients, if applicable) when you file your taxes this April 2021 (paying for the 2020 tax year). Hope that helps.

  9. Hi Matt, Thanks for your helpful advice. I’m just about to start my own business in Los Angeles helping people in recovery/addiction. Should I get the LLC first and then the DBA the filing business name will be the SAME, but I don’t wish for the llc to be shown on the business website etc. Thanks for all your help. :)

    • Hi Ivy, you’re welcome :) Yes, exactly. The LLC needs to be filed first and wait for it to be approved. Then the LLC is the one that is applying for the use of the DBA (Fictitious Name). Hope that helps.

  10. Can I use the same DBA for several LLCs?
    For instance, I have LLC 1, LLC 2, LL 3 (all different real estate properties). Can I have them under a DBA name of “John Doe Real Estate Holdings”?

    • Hi Ike, no. Each LLC would have to file a DBA under the same name. In most states and in most counties, DBAs don’t have exclusive rights to their names (i.e. can’t prevent others from having the same name), however, you’d want to confirm that before filing.

  11. Hello,
    I learned a lot from this. Thank you.
    Here is my situation. I registered a llc. We are leasing a business that is owned by some one else and we are working under their name and licenses. Do I need to file a DBA for my llc in order to be totally protected? Does this fall under the same lines as a franchise even though we are not franchisees? We are pretty much just running the business for them for just the amount of the lease( pretty much to pay utilities). We share no profits and we are not on their payroll. Which is why I formed the llc to protect my assets.

    • Hi Christoph, yes, correct. It’s exactly like a franchise agreement in that a franchisee pays for the right to use a business name, but must register that name as a DBA so the LLC can legally operate under the business name.

  12. Hey Matt,

    Great info and I think it’s incredible that you have kept up with this thread for so long. I currently operate under my DBA Central Florida Trimlight but my LLC is Let’s Hang Your Lights, LLC. It’s similar to the franchising scenario you mentioned above. I am going through some credit building strategies that require me to register with a lot of different sites, search optimizers, tradelines etc and everything has to be apples to apples down to the spacing and punctuations in order for the credentialing to be recognized. My question is, do I need to rely on my LLC info or would my DBA info suffice in this scenario? My concern is that if I have to use my LLC for SEO and Tradelines it’s way under developed because I use my DBA when marketing to the public. I guess I am wondering what the best way to display the two names in this scenario.

    • Hi Robby, thank you very much :) I’m actually not sure about the use of the LLC name or the DBA name and which is better for business credit. We don’t do work in the business credit space. Regarding the branding, if you’re leaning towards the use of your DBA, you can look into transferring (usually called an assignment) your DBA name from yourself personally to your LLC. This way, your LLC can do business under Let’s Hang Your Lights, LLC as well as Central Florida Trimlight. Hope that helps.

  13. It makes more sense to just register the DBA. We have a great history with the bank so it shouldn’t be a problem. I’ll file it with the county. Thank you so much for responding! HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

    • You’re very welcome Kenya! Just to clarify, you can keep everything all under 1 bank account if you want or the bank may allow for 2 bank accounts (which can make accounting, taxes, and finances a lot easier). Either way though, it’s still 1 legal entity (your LLC) with 1 or 2 bank accounts. Happy New Year!

  14. Hi,
    I have an LLC and business checking account for it and its business purposes are rehab and construction. We no longer use it but I want to keep it and open a furniture store. Do I do DBA or dissolve it and start a new LLC. I’m confused since it’ll be furniture sales. I’m in Georgia.

    • Hi Kenya, an LLC can engage in various different/multiple business activities, so you don’t have to form a new LLC. Are you thinking to register a DBA since the LLC name doesn’t make sense for furniture sales? If so, you can register a DBA for your LLC in the county in which your LLC is doing business. In Georgia, DBAs are technically called Trade Names and they are filed at the county-level, not the state-level. You’ll need to contact the Superior Court Clerks office in the relevant county for instructions. You can find more information here: Georgia Department of Banking and Finance: Trade Names. Hope that helps.

  15. Hi Matt,

    I recently opened a business LLC for senior services. I now want to add a DBA for a consulting business not related to senior services or should I just open another LLC for the consulting business?

  16. Hi Matt,

    I previously formed and LLC under lets say LKY Industries LLC. however it was not in use. In the recent months I created a new name. I was referred to a (business student )from the SBDC. We went online and completed the Name change but with the change we added “LTD” to the new name. I didn’t ask enough questions prior Now im wondering if im still protected under the LLC?

    • Hi Monique, do you know if you filed a new DBA or did you file an amendment to your LLC (and change the LLC’s name)? Do you have the name of the form you used? Please also share the state where the LLC was formed. Thank you.

      • Hi Matt

        Thank you so much for all that you do. It is truly appreciated.

        I live and formed the LLC in Pennsylvania. I filed a certificate of amendment to change the name

        • Hi Monique, you’re very welcome! Okay, wonderful. You filed a Certificate of Amendment and you changed the name of your LLC. For example, your LLC’s original name was “LKY Industries LLC”, but you changed your LLC name to “ABC Consulting LTD”. All is good then (disregard my comment about the DBA). Yes, you are still protected. “LTD” is an allowable designator for a Pennsylvania LLC name. Said another way, you didn’t change anything about your LLC except for its name.

          • Matt

            That is awesome news. I thought I made a huge mistake especially for tax purposes.

            I’m so relieved. Thank you so much

            • Nope, you didn’t make any mistakes at all! Keep in mind, if you haven’t opened an LLC bank account yet, make sure to bring your approved Certificate of Amendment along with your approved Certificate of Organization and your EIN Confirmation Letter (CP 575). Also – (you don’t have to do this before opening an LLC bank account) – you should update the IRS and let them know about the LLC name change. We have instructions here: how to change LLC name with the IRS.

  17. Hi Matt,

    What a phenomenal service you are providing with LLC University! Kudos for helping so many navigate how to do the right thing. A wealth of information very much appreciated!

    I apologize if I’m repeating material already covered here somewhere (likely), but after a few hours reading posts and Q&A, we still have a few questions we are hoping you might have time for. Context: a Chiropractor practicing in Washington state as a sole prop with a dba preparing to register as a single-member manager-managed PLLC.

    1) Understand the LLC offers liability protections superior to a sole prop, but it would seem these protections only apply to the extent the business enters into agreements as the LLC. Examples: office lease, Google Workspace with BAA (for HIPAA compliance), liability insurance, malpractice insurance, loans, credit cards, etc. Are we interpreting correctly that LLC protection only applies to agreements executed as the LLC? Any/all current business agreements should be transferred/assigned to the LLC, or cancelled and replaced with agreements entered into by the LLC? Replacing all business agreements and policies sounds daunting…

    2) Regarding insurance policies: should policies be taken out by the PLLC and name-insured the Member; or should the policy be held by the Member and name-insured the PLLC? Guessing the general liability policy could be held by the PLLC whereas malpractice must be held by the licensee – so should the malpractice policy name-insured the PLLC and the liability policy name-insured the Member? (Insurance confuses me in general!)

    3) Regarding the dba: we think we will register as Dr. First Last, PLLC; and then assign or transfer the dba to the PLLC. How do we transfer a dba from a sole prop to a PLLC in WA? Should we rethink the naming and instead use the current dba as the PLLC name? If so, why/why not?

    4) Do you have any additional info on structuring something like a board of directors to serve as the manager in a manager-managed LLC? This might seem odd, I know. The Chiro is an outstanding practitioner, but not particularly business savvy and could use some support in operating the business. So we think she should be the single-member and a member-manager, and invite 2 others to participate as non-member managers. Any thoughts on this approach?

    Thanks again for the awesome resources in LLC University.

    • Hi Chris, thank you very much for the kind words! You’re very welcome :)

      1. Yes, you are correct. The PLLC protection, in the context to agreements, applies only to agreements in which the PLLC enters.

      Yes, you’ll want to review your contracts and agreements and see if they can be assigned (transferred) to your PLLC. Also correct in that you could cancel the agreements and have the PLLC reenter the agreements. Yes, it can be a bit daunting. Give yourself time and take it step by step.

      2. You’ll want to speak with your insurance agent as the rules here aren’t black and white. Different insurance companies handle things differently, depending on the policy and the underwriter. You may need a new policy, or it might be a simple name change, or it might be updating the additionally insured parties. We’re not sure how the malpractice policy should be held. It will likely list both the PLLC and its Members.

      3. This is typically done via an assignment of DBA, however, in Washington, the process may be a bit different. We don’t cover DBA assignments on the site, so you’ll want to call the Washington Business Licensing Department at 360-705-6741 to inquire. You may be able to file an assignment/transfer of DBA. Or you may just be able to register the same DBA (aka Trade Name) for your PLLC when you complete the Washington LLC Business License application (after the PLLC is approved).

      4. We don’t have informational on customizing the internal affairs/governance of LLCs. There is a state or two that allow for board-managed LLCs, but that’s a newer thing. It sounds like speaking with an attorney (or a few) to find one you like and then getting help drafting a custom Manager-managed Operating Agreement may do the trick.

      Hope that helps!

  18. Hi Matt!

    I’d like to offer a MASSIVE thank you! The information on this site has BY FAR been the most helpful out of everywhere else that I’ve looked online. Thank you so much!

    With that being said, I have some questions:

    I’ve formed my LLC in Arizona and have recently opened up a bank account for it, but am marketing a different brand name to my customers, that is not my LLC name.

    I am wondering if creating a DBA is even necessary since the registration of Trade Names is not legally required in Arizona. Would there be any incentive for me to create a DBA?

    I would very much like to put my brand name on the invoices and statements I charge my customers with (as well as the contracts I have them sign for my services performed), instead of my LLC name? Is that possible?

    My goal is to get my customers to see my brand name on invoices instead of my LLC name.

    Lastly, if I do create my brand name as a DBA in Arizona, I know the records are public, but is the contact address listed on the Arizona DBA application form also public?

    Thank you once again!

    • Hi Red, thank you very much! While Arizona doesn’t require the registration of a DBA, we do recommend it. If you get payment made to your LLC’s DBA name, the bank may require the registration, as one example. We don’t cover DBAs to the same extent we do LLCs, so we’re not sure about the contact address on the DBA form. We recommend calling the state and asking. Hope that helps.

  19. Hi Matt –

    First I want to thank you for this great article and the time invested in answering all the comments! Truly great work.

    Yesterday I filed for an LLC in Massachusetts and I am wondering if I need a DBA. The LLC name I chose is “Super Sales LLC”.

    Up until yesterday I have been operating as a Sole Proprietor without a DBA. Just using the “Super Sales” nickname without any registration.

    Since the beginning I wanted to be specific and clear to customers so I added the phrase “Bags & Shoes” to the name. So everything on my business cards, documents, website and social media reads: “Super Sales Shoes & Accessories”.

    If my LLC gets registered would it be illegal to drop the “LLC” and continue using these two words after the name?

    I plan to keep the “Super Sales LLC” for invoices, legal correspondence with the state, and banking but I don’t want to completely redesign my website, social media, company art, etc.


    • Hi Jose, thank you so much! In this case, you’ll definitely want to file an DBA so your LLC can do business under a name that is different than its true and legal name. Technically, this should have been done for your Sole Proprietorship too. Hope that helps :)

  20. Hi,
    I have rental properties in KS and MO. I have one LLC in each state. The current LLCs that I have are named using an address of one of the properties and it will be confusing to have leases and bank accounts using the same name for other properties.
    The LLC in KS will own the properties (3) in KS, but I will file 3 DBAs using the address of each property to make it simple and easy to identify it. The same snario for MO.

    Advise? I think this will keep the liability limited to the each LLC. Each DBA will have a separate bank account.

    • Hi Mac, I’m finding this a little challenging to follow. Can you rephrase the question using actual names of LLCs, DBAs, and property addresses (or dummy names)? And what are you trying accomplish by all this?

      • Hi Matt… sorry for the confusion.

        I have 2 LLCs :
        11 Main St LLC (Kansas) and
        123 Front St LLC (Missouri).

        Each LLC owns 3 properties… to keep leases and accounts separate and easier to keep track. I would like to create 3 DBAs per LLC.

        11 Main St LLC will have:
        DBA1 – 123 Locust St Property
        DBA2- 456 Lowes St Property
        DBA3 – 789 Kansas St Property

        123 Front St LLC will have:
        DBA1- 987 Backyard St Property
        DBA2- 654 Clark St Property
        DBA3- 321 Central Ave. Property

        I not sure if by using DBAs will be less expensive to setup and maintain or just create more LLCs. Also, do I need different EIN numbers per DBA to open bank accounts or just use the EINs that I have per LLC?

        I hope this helps… thank you in advance for your help.

        • I was searching online… and it looks like:

          Kansas does not list or register DBAs or have statutes requiring or permitting the registration or filing of DBAs or fictitious names

          Missouri has the DBA option… I will keep looking for more info… and appreciate your advise.

          • Yes, you are 100% correct. I just replied to your other comment with details on DBAs in Missouri and Kansas.

        • Hey Mac, super helpful! Because a DBA isn’t a legal entity (it’s just a “nickname”), you would not get new EINs. You would use the LLC’s EIN. I can see how these DBAs will really help from an organizational/administrative perspective. DBAs are super affordable in Missouri ($7) and there is no official registration for DBAs in Kansas (at the state level). If you move forward with DBAs in Kansas, you’ll just want to call the County Clerk where the properties are located and see if they have a registration process. If they don’t, you can simply use the DBA names (no need to register them anywhere; crazy rules, huh?!) and they are “free”. Point being, the DBAs are much cheaper than new LLC filings in these two states. However, there isn’t liability protection as with multiple LLCs.

          Do you plan on purchasing more property? While there is liability protection between the properties owned by 11 Main St LLC and 123 Front Street LLC, the properties held within 11 Main St LLC (and those within 123 Front St LLC) have their liability “clumped” together. No need for alarm though as insurance can help fill the gap. I’m not sure how valuable these properties are to you (or their risk profile), but the reason I asked whether or not you were purchasing more property, is you could consider a holding company LLC. That holding company owns subsidiary LLCs. Each subsidiary LLC is formed in the state where the property is located and owns 1 property (or multiple properties). There are a lot of ways to structure real estate. The nice thing about a holding company LLC is it may make a bulk sale easier and/or you could more easily bake in estate planning (if you’re even thinking of that), by having your holding company owned by a Trust, for example. However, that is a “future proofing” conversation and a conversation to have with an estate planning attorney. Anyway, food for thought ;) Hope that helps though.

          • Matt,

            Thank you for your fast and helpful reply.

            On the KS side I will check with the County Clerk where the properties are located and see if they have a registration process, if not, what document will I need to show the bank? My leases will have the BDA name on it, and tenants will have checks payable to the DBA… but how the bank will link the deposits to the LLC account?

            I’m checking with my insurance company and the plan will be to have an umbrella policy of maybe 2 million per LLC. These are not to expensive and well worth the peace of mind.

            I will try to keep 3 or less properties per LLC depending on risk factors and asset value. Eventually have a Holding LLC that will own all LLCs.

            Question… do you suggest to create the Holding LLC (parent LLC) in a particular state or KS where I live?


            • Hey Mac, you’re welcome. You’ll want to call the bank and ask to speak to the branch manager. They may or may not require something in writing for the Kansas DBAs. If they need something, I’m sure you could create a “Statement of Use of Doing Business As Name” on your computer and just write out the facts and sign it on behalf of the LLC that owns the DBAs. Technically, you should have the lease in the LLC name along with the DBA (ex: 11 Main St LLC dba 123 Locust St Property). In order to cash checks/receive payment made to the DBA, you’ll just place all the DBA names on file with the bank.

              Regarding the holding company, there is a hodgepodge of answers out there. A lot of people will tell you to form a holding company in a state like Wyoming, for example (because of charging order protection; assuming you are the sole owner of your LLC. If you have a Multi-Member LLC, there is less risk), however, if you are personally sued, that lawsuit will likely occur in your home state or the state you’re doing business in. And there is a good chance your ownership in the Wyoming LLC is deemed personal intangible property (which in most states is located where you reside) and the courts can completely ignore Wyoming laws and treat your Wyoming LLC under the laws of Kansas or Missouri. This is a bit oversimplified, so we recommend speaking with asset protection attorney in Kansas and/or Missouri. Just don’t believe all the stuff you read online about the “hyped up” states. Not that there isn’t some truth to it, but it’s worth having an advisor on your side you can dig into the details with.

              • Matt,

                I will call the county clerk next week and then my bank.

                I agree there is a lot of good/bad information regarding holding companies.. I will maybe start by doing the DBAs and eventually (maybe) the Holding LLC. …not sure yet.

                Thank you again for your help and advise. Great website.

                • Thanks Mac. You’re very welcome. I think your DBA organization strategy is very smart and a great place to start. When I created a holding company and did estate planning, I gradually did it over the course of a year. Conversations with attorneys, research, sleeping on things/letting them simmer, etc. It’s good to think ahead, but also not get caught up/stalled over the complexity of it all. Step-by-step, one week at a time ;)

  21. I have a business that I registered my EIN as DBA 3 years ago. We want to move it to a LLC. I registered my LLC with the state. And now I need to know if I close the DBA and reopen my EIN as a LLC

    • Hi Diana, it sounds like you were operating as a Sole Proprietorship. Your Sole Proprietorship had a DBA. Your Sole Proprietorship also had an EIN. Now you want to form an LLC. I’m not sure what your question is. Can you rephrase your question please? Thank you.

  22. I am leasing a commercial building to run the existing cafe that’s there(with the option to buy later). The cafe name will stay the same. I formed an LLC (not cafe name). Paychecks, payroll will be under my LLC but customers checks etc will be made out to cafe name. I am located in Montana. Do I file for a DBA of the cafe name.

    • Hi Christina, yes, in this case you’d file a DBA to both accurately run the business and to be able to cash checks under the DBA name. Hope that helps.

  23. Hi Matt,

    Awesome information here!!!

    I have a corp Click Pro… Inc. that I have been using for my marketing company. And I just became a managing real estate broker. To simplify things and not create another corp or llc, I was thinking about using a DBA – SEL/REGO for my real estate sales under the existing corp. Thoughts? Does this have just as much protection or do you think it would be best to create a separate entity for the real estate listings. I plan to have a few other different websites going as well under other names.


    • Hi Jeff, thank you! We recommend considering separate entities to separate liability. For example, you may not want an incident in the marketing company to affect the real estate company (and vice versa). You’ll also want to contact your state real estate licensing board/agency and check if there are any restrictions or special requirements for operating a real estate brokerage through a legal entity. Many states have requirements and/or restrictions. Hope that helps.

  24. Hi Matt, thank you for your great service! I applied for an LLC, but the name that I chose is the same name as the game that I want to publish.
    For example *@!, LLC is the name of the company and *@! is the name of the game. Do I have to apply for a DBA to publish the name of my game as *@!. I’m also wondering because later on down the road I may want to create merchandise with the logo *@! for the game. Thank you so much!

    • You’re very welcome Daniel! A DBA is used by an LLC when the LLC wants to do business under a name that is different than its true and legal name. In this case, the game and the merchandise are products, and the name of a product (or the words listed on a product) don’t require a DBA. Hope that helps.

  25. I have a Sole Proprietorship which has a different name than my own name do I need a DBA?

    • Hi Andreea, we don’t cover Sole Proprietorships in great detail, so you’ll need to check with the state’s requirements where you are transacting business. Each state has different rules as to what names a Sole Proprietor can use. Having said that, if the Sole Proprietorship name is very different than your own name, you likely need a DBA in order to operate under that name. Hope that helps.

  26. Matt, awesome site! I’m a New York artist who filed a d.b.a. in Albany County in 1999. During that time I studied my craft and built up inventory, but never sold anything. In 2020 I’ve now started an LLC in Westchester County, but I’d like to be able to say “established 1999” while producing art under my LLC (Both business names are similar). I went and talked to the secretary of state – whom I thoroughly confused – and got a “Certificate Of Conversion” form that commands a $200 filing fee! But she couldn’t tell me any advantage or disadvantage of filing the form. Can I use my LLC est. 1999 and when is it appropriate to do a “Certificate Of Conversion.”

    • Hi Joshua, thank you! The DBA you first had was just owned by yourself, correct? In that case, it was you operating as a Sole Proprietorship. And the Certificate of Conversion, what is the form number in the lower left?

    • Yes, so it seems that the Certificate of Conversion form [DOS-1364-f (rev. 03/17) 2pgs.] is not too common [cross ref. sect. 1006 (e)(B)]. I suspected this. And I think I know where you are going with your reasoning for asking about the DBA. The DOS had no objection (~sugestion) to my indicating “partnership,” per said DOS form; however, regarding NYS Dept. of Taxation and Finance — TR-570 — form, I indicated: “The LLC is a successor to a sole proprietorship or a corporation.” NOTE: by selecting the aforementioned, the form declares, “You may not transfer any existing registrations to the new entity [I have none]. See Section 6 for the obligations of a prior business [?]. See Section 9 for information on obtaining registration forms for taxes you may owe.

    • I forgot to mention thhat on TR-570 I also indicated that the LLC should be treated as a partnership for tax purposes ant that I am not a single member (Part 2 – Federal tax election).

      • Hi Joshua, thank you for the details. It wouldn’t make sense to use a Certificate of Conversion (DOS-1364-f) for two reasons. First, you already have an LLC. And second, the DOS-1364-f is used by Partnerships and Limited Partnerships converting to an LLC. Since your main goal is to state “established 1999” I don’t think you need to do any type of conversion (since you already “converted” from a Sole Proprietorship to LLC). Additionally, I don’t there is risk in telling people your business was established in 1999 (since your business was established in 1999). You can also explain this to customers by linking “established 1999” on your website to your About page (or a similar page) that says something along the lines of “Joshua founded the company in 1999 and since then things have grown a lot. In 2020, he decided to formalize the business structure and form an LLC”. Regarding any risk with use of “established 1999”, again, I don’t think there is risk, however, we recommend asking an attorney or two to get another opinion. I hope that is helpful.

  27. So, say my llc name is: David Johnson LLC and all my materials and contracts has david johnson llc, but my website name is do I need to file a DBA? or as long as I put in the footer or about page that this is david johnson llc, will I be fine?

    • Hi David, there isn’t a hard and fast rule on this one. Some attorneys will say play it safe and file a DBA for “”. However, a lot of companies don’t do that and just include the full LLC name in the footer, legal notices, and other applicable places on the website. The purpose is to let the public know that they are dealing with an LLC. Apologies we can’t provide a definitive answer on this one. Hope that helps and thanks for your understanding.

  28. live in PA, would like to open a bank account for our bi-annual family reunion. Told by our bank we would need an EIN. Should we register family reunion name under DBA and then apply for EIN as sole proprietor? Thanks

    • Hi Rick, this is not something we regularly deal with, so we’re not sure. You could try calling a few banks to see if you get the same story. However, a DBA is just a “nickname” for a person(s) or an entity, like an LLC or Corporation. If you are not forming an entity, then the owner of the DBA will likely be a Sole Proprietorship or a General Partnership. In either situation, one person, or multiple people, may be assuming liability. However, that could be offset with insurance. Hope that helps.

  29. Hello, if a person files a dba but somebody else files for a llc under that same name, does the llc have the right to operate business under that name even though a dba was already taken out?

    • Hi Jose, yes, the LLC has the right to operate the business under that name. The reason why is that DBAs (Fictitious Names) hold no naming rights. They are simply “nicknames” that point to either a person or a company, like an LLC or Corporation. The only exception would be if the DBA name was also registered as a federal trademark. Hope that helps.

  30. So what is the penalty if you operate under a different name than the legal entity? Particularly if the name is similar enough that everyone would likely assume it was probably the same business. An example would be Brookstone Preschool LLC as the legal entity, but all marketing materials have “Brookstone Preschool & Childcare”

    • Hi Douglas, you’d have to find the applicable state statute for that. The laws don’t usually work based on what we think others would assume. If an LLC is doing business under a name that is different from its true and legal name, a DBA should be in place. Hope that helps :)

  31. Matt,

    I have a long LLC name and want to use an abbreviation/acronym for my DBA. Is this necessary or can I just use my abbreviation/acronym of LLC on letterhead business cards advertising etc.

    • Hi Frank, any time your LLC is doing business under a name that is different than its true and legal name, a DBA should be in place. Hope that helps.

  32. Hi Matt – This website was such a great find – thank you for publishing it!

    My question is regarding online based companies and DBAs. I am in Nevada and am starting an LLC with a generic name… something like ADSR, LLC.

    To start, our business is just an eBay store. We’ll be selling clothing under an eBay username that’s already established “XXXXclothing”.

    Soon after forming the LLC we plan to expand into different types of products and launching websites. Due to the different products, we’d like to sell, we may have for example 2 eBay usernames and 2 websites.

    Ebay Usernames:


    I believe that you answered a similar question before, but I just want to make sure it’s applicable for selling on a 3rd party platform (eBay/Amazon) as well as a website. The answer I read is below, and my take away was the username/website does not need to be the same as the LLC name, it must just be clear on the website (and I’d assume eBay listings) that they are doing business with ADSR, LLC

    Your prior answer:
    “You can use a domain name that doesn’t match your LLC name. Most websites are like that. Just be clear throughout the website that the business and the website are owned by your LLC.”

    Thanks so much for any insight you can provide!

    • Hi Jessica, you’re very welcome! You are correct. Your eBay username (or any other website username) doesn’t need to match your LLC name. And the same thing goes for a website address – it doesn’t need to match your LLC name. And yes, you just want the readers to know they are doing business with ADSR, LLC. Hope that helps!

  33. Hi Matt,
    Great info here!
    If you file for a DBA for your LLC (the DBA for one branch of your business), can you still do business under your original LLC name?

    • Thanks Jan! Great question. Yes, an LLC with a DBA (or DBAs) can do business under the DBA name (or names) or its original LLC name. Hope that helps!

  34. I have an existing LLC, a consulting company, we have also established a band and would like to cover it under the LLC, for insurance purposes. Do we need to establish a dba for the Band – UNDER the LLC if so how do we go about doing so….as a mini business under the Main LLC???

    • Hey Dusty, if an LLC will operate and do business under a name that is different than its true and legal name, then a DBA should be in place. So based on what you said, yes, you would file a DBA (owned by your LLC) for your band name. How to file the DBA depends on the state. Sometimes they are filed at the state level (with the Secretary of State’s office, for example) and other times they are filed at the county level (with the County Clerk’s office, for example). Hope that helps.

  35. Hi Matt,

    First of all, thank you for your super informative website! It is truly packed with a lot of relevant information and I’m sure it is proving to be very helpful to a lot of budding entrepreneurs. I’ll be sure to recommend it to others in need.

    My question about DBA is as follows .. I am about to form a single-member LLC for a Life Coaching Business. Even though the LLC will have a name (let’s say XYZ LLC), given the nature of the coaching profession (where the coach is the face of the business), people are more adept & likely to identify with my name rather than the company’s. Does this mean I should file for a DBA as ‘my name’? Does doing this introduce any risk (such as losing some liability protection)? Do people in this situation usually have a website in their personal name or the company name?

    Thanks so much!

    • Hey Sachin, thanks so much! We really appreciate you! Registering a DBA for your LLC wouldn’t affect the liability protection of the LLC, since it’s still just the LLC operating. The DBA is just a “nickname” for the LLC. And while coaches are the “face of the business”, this wouldn’t require the filing of a DBA. You’ll want to make it clear to customers that they are engaging with your LLC. So the website should clearly show the LLC name and in particular, any contracts or agreements should be made with the LLC and not yourself personally. And payments should be make to your LLC, not you personally. Hope that helps.

      • Hey Matt – that absolutely helps! Thank you. Just wanted to confirm it’s ok to have the website domain as my name (, but have the LLC name at the bottom/copyright notice and in any disclaimers, contracts or agreements.

  36. Hi Matt,
    Thank you for the great information, but I am still a little confused. So here is the information.

    My goal is to protect my wife and I, and to do the taxes correctly. and figure out if I need a DBA. I set these up a year ago, but the CPA never said anything about a DBA. This is the first tax returns this way.

    1. State of Colorado,
    2. 5 rental properties… each one with its own E.I.N and is a Multi Member LLC.
    3. 1 Multi Member LLC with EIN that is the management company of all the LLC’s
    4. Examples: A LLC, B LLC, C LLC, D LLC, E LLC, ABCDE Management LLC.
    5. One charge card and one checking account under ABCDE management company
    4. The tenants write their check to the ABCDE Management Company LLC
    5. Pay all bills out of the ABCDE Mgmt. LLC account.
    6. I track all expenses and rents separately by each individual LLC, A, B, C, D, E LLC
    7. Do my taxes in each individual LLC including a return for the Management LLC, 8. The management LLC is just a few expenses for itself. No income.

    Thank you Matt

    • Hi Doug, you’re welcome. We understand your setup, but you didn’t ask any question lol ;) If you’re asking if you need a DBA, you didn’t mention anything that sounds like it. A DBA is needed for an LLC if you want your LLC to operate under a name that is different than its true and legal name. Hope that helps.

    • Matt
      Thank you for your reply. I have been a little confused on previous reply’s as they appeared to be directed to others as it asked what State I was in, but it was in the bullet points. (Colorado)My question was “Do I need a DBA” and then I listed all the information. In all honesty, I wonder if all this is worth it, as many say a beginner lawyer could brake the vail. As they sue everyone anyway. Sorry for the confusion Matt.

      • Hey Doug, thanks for clarifying. It didn’t sound like you need a DBA from what you mentioned. And I hear you, however, hard to say. There isn’t a black and white answer to this stuff. Thanks.

  37. Hi Matt,

    First of all Thank You for all the help you are providing. Your website is wonderful, very accurate and with detailed explanation and examples.

    I have set up a LLC in CA and used my personal address during the filing. I was under the impression that I can file a DBA with UPS business address to keep my address private, but just learned that personal address will always be public information on secretary of state website. I am thinking of dissolving the LLC and opening a new one, or creating one in a different state all together. What do you recommend?


    • Hi Harry, you’re very welcome :) Please take a look at what is doing business in California. California is very strict about its “doing business” laws. Meaning, if you formed an LLC in another state, it would then need to be registered as a foreign LLC in California. So that will cost you more, and can be a headache for some. If you’re looking for privacy, you could consider hiring a filing company to form an LLC in Wyoming (as an example) and then your Wyoming LLC owns an LLC in California. You’d want to use a Commercial Registered Agent (see California LLC Registered Agent) and one in Wyoming, too. And most often, you’ll need a filing company to file initial filings and annual reports so you don’t have to sign publicly-accessibly documents. Hope that helps.

  38. Hi Matt,

    I am presently DBA and sole proprietor with and EIN. I set up this way because I really had no assets personally or in the business. Additionally, I just started up a second business that is not earning much of anything presently. However, now I believe I need an LLC. It seems I have done the opposite of pretty much everything you suggested. Where should I start?

    Thanks, Dawn

  39. Wish I would have found this info first. Very helpful, but since I did not and have already submitted and received an EIN I now have a few questions. I did include a DBA name on my application (not register or anything), but after reading this I can live without a DBA and all the headaches. My question becomes…do I need to send a letter to the IRS to remove the DBA or as long as I don’t use it then it won’t be an issue? I just don’t want to complicate things when it comes to taxes. Also is the letter “LLC” required to be included after a company name if I do have an LLC (I did not include “LLC” after my company name)?

    • Hi Jade, just to make sure I understand, so you formed and LLC and then applied for you EIN. On the EIN application, did you select “limited liability company” or “sole proprietorship”. If you select limited liability company, do I understand you that you entered your LLC name, but left out the designator “LLC”. And you also entered a DBA name as well?

        • Oh and yes I did select “limited liability company” when applying for an EIN.

          • Hi Jade, okay, thanks for the info. Having the DBA name won’t do anything if you’re not going to use it. However, if your LLC name is missing the designator “LLC”, you’ll want to get that in there. You can mail a letter to the IRS to let them know. Check out change LLC name with IRS. You can also include a letter with that to clarify. Just tell them you forgot to include “LLC” the first time. Make sure include a copy of your approved LLC filing too.

            After that is taken care of, it’s a good idea to call the IRS business line and ask for an EIN Verification Letter (147C). It’s a nice “proof” form of your EIN showing the correct LLC name if you need it. Hope that helps.

  40. Hi
    I have an LLC in Minnesota. Lets say it is called ABCD Ranch. Do I need to do a DBA if I want to say ABCD Ranch Kennels and ABCD Ranch Beef or ABCD Ranch Meats, etc?

    Thank you!

    • Hi Jenny, it’ll be best practice to run this by an attorney. You’ll want to look at the context of how you’re using those names. Could the public be lead to think that’s the business name and that’s who they’re doing business with? If so, a DBA may be needed. Hope that helps.

  41. Hi Matt,

    I am forming my first Single-Member LLC in New York and I have a couple of questions that I hope you can help clarifying for me.

    1. Choosing a name. If my LLC name is accepted in NY state (CANDY’S ART, LLC) but someone acquires a federal trademark with the same name (CANDY’S ART), does that mean they can force me to change my LLC name?

    I am slightly confused because it seems that although my LLC can be accepting on the state level, the state doesn’t cross reference with any county or federal entities to make sure I’m not infringing on someone else’s name.

    What steps would you take as far a obtaining a name to make sure you won’t have to change it later on? Do you recommend I get my LLC approved first on the state level. (CANDY’S ART LLC) or register for a federal trademark to make sure the name is available under the goods/services I need it for, then get the LLC approved on the state level?

    2. LLC Protection. Even though I understand that an LLC offers Limited Liability Protection from my personal assets in “most” situations. I also keep seeing that their are ways to lose my protection and my company can be looked at as an “alter ego”. Can you explain to me in what situations an LLC could lose it’s protection? Is it common to lose LLC protection?

    Thanks in advance!

    • Hi Candice,

      1. If you want national protection on your business name, then you’ll want to speak to an IP/trademark attorney to discuss your options. In addition to a trademark already being filed, the international class (or classes) it’s filed under are important to look into. There may be a cross-over with your name, or there may not be. If you do end up going the trademark route, it’s typical to form the LLC first, then file the trademark. This way, the mark is owned by the LLC, instead of you personally.

      2. This is a conversation best had with an attorney. At some point we may write something about this, but for now, it’s too complex to get into via the comments.

      Hope that helps and thank you for your understanding.

  42. Hi Matt,
    Your very last sentence in your reply has just confused me – Is having a business as a sole proprietorship different than being taxed as a sole proprietor?

    • Hi Martha, yes, they are different. Check out how are LLCs taxed. An LLC doesn’t have it’s own tax classification with the IRS. So, for the most part, they tax LLCs in one of four ways. If you’re the sole owner, your LLC will be taxed like a Sole Proprietorship. It basically means the income, expense, credits, and deductions for the LLC get listed in your personal federal 1040 return.

  43. Hi, thanks for recommending this article! I’m planning on starting a private practice (counseling) in Colorado, and will be creating an LLC to protect my assets, using a “general entity name.” However, I’d also like to have a specialty within my private practice that goes by a different name, to reflect that specialty. So I would want to use both names, to attract different clientele, within my one practice. Would this be an example of having one business name with the LLC at the end (the general practice name) and a DBA on top of the LLC (the specialty name)? Would my assets be protected using both names? This is hard to write out, so I hope it makes sense!

    • Hi Martha, you’re very welcome. Yes, you’re correct. That is a great use-case of why you’d want to use a DBA owned by your LLC. Your LLC would do business under it’s true, legal name in addition to doing business under its DBA name. In Colorado, a DBA is called a Trade Name. When you file the Trade Name for your LLC (after the LLC is approved), in the online filing on the Colorado Secretary of State website, it says “File a Statement of Trade Name for…”; you’d select “Report Entity” for LLC.

      Also, are you a licensed professional counselor in Colorado? If so, you’ll want to form a Professional LLC (PLLC) instead of a regular LLC. Hope that helps.

      • Hi. I’m not quite an LPC yet, two or three years to go. So is it appropriate for me to apply for a PLLC at this time? I was thinking I’d apply for an LLC now to protect my assets, and then change to a PLLC after I receive my LPC. Your thoughts?

        Also, just to be sure, will my assets be protected doing counseling using both the entity name and specialty name at the same time? For taxes, would I still be considered to be just one business?

        • Hi Martha, you won’t be able to form a PLLC. It’s only available to licensed professionals. Colorado may have a conversion from LLC to PLLC, but I don’t recall off the top of my head (and we don’t deal with conversions a whole lot). Their office is quite friendly, so I recommend giving them a call tomorrow in order think ahead. If they do, all good. If not, you’d have to form an LLC, then form a PLLC later. Yes, it’s just one legal entity, so assets are still protected and the LLC is taxed as a Sole Proprietorship and you report the taxes on your Schedule C or other schedules.

  44. Hi Matt!
    This article was a goldmine, I’m so happy I stumbled upon it. =)

    I have a question regarding websites. I wish I would have found this article sooner but we already filed and have our business entity LLC and previously planned to file Fictitious Names (we’re in PA), because we wanted our main business entity ex. XYZ, LLC and then to advertise words/phrases after XYZ depending on the branch of our business we’d be utilizing ex. XYZ Resolutions, XYZ Management Services etc. since we will be marketing to 3 or 4 completely different audiences and offering different services though they are all specific to our main business XYZ, LLC. However after reading this article and then digging into PA code, we will NOT be filing FNs. We will just leave our legal name on all advertising but wanted to ask 2 questions..

    1). Is there anything wrong with adding taglines to our marketing materials, business cards etc. so it’s clear what services we offer? Even though we will be doing all business under the legal entity name? Ex:

    XYZ, LLC
    Management Services (tagline)

    XYZ, LLC
    Resolutions (tagline)

    2). We realized too late that our LLC name is not available in a website (, however all of the FNs were available so we already bought all the domains :( Ex.,

    Can we not use these domains that we purchased since we aren’t registering FNs?

    If not, what do people do when their LLC legal name isn’t available as a domain, but you need a website? :(

    Please help. Thanks SO much!!

    • Hi Stef, thank you for the kind words! Glad the article was helpful. I don’t think there are issues with using a tagline, as long as it’s clear it’s a tagline or description, and is not being use to make it look like a different company name. You can use a domain name that doesn’t match your LLC name. Most websites are like that. Just be clear throughout the website that the business and the website are owned by your LLC. Hope that helps.

  45. Hi!

    Thank you for the article it’s very helpful!

    I have a question regarding the DBA. I just filed my LLC in New York State and am willing to start an online ecommerce store with another brand name. And will be doing business using this new brand name for the website, logo, branding. For this case, shd I file DBA with NY State?


  46. If a DBA is filed under an LLC at the state level MUST it also be filed in a county?

    • Hi Karen, it depends on the state you’re in. Most states have DBAs filed at either the state level or the county level, but usually not both. What state do you want to file a DBA for your LLC in?

  47. Hi Matt!
    Thank you for the great article. I am in PA and tried to file a fictitious name (PA’s DBA) for my LLC that so I could use my real name with coaching clients and still be protected under my LLC. The application got rejected. She said that since it was my real name it wasn’t fictitious.

    I am the only owner of my LLC. Am I allowed to operate under my true name and still have all of my business via my real name be protected and run through my LLC?

    Thank you for your help!

    • Hey Cassandra! You’re very welcome. All you need is a slight mental adjustment ;) Your coaching business is now your LLC, and technically, your an “agent” for the LLC. That gets into agency law, but the simple way to think of it is that you act on behalf of your LLC. So while yes, it’s ultimately you that your clients are dealing with (as is the case for many businesses), it’s the LLC they are paying, signing a contract with (if applicable), etc. You can update your website copyright, terms of service, disclaimer, etc. to show that the site is owned by your LLC. You can also update the ownership in your domain’s registrar and hosting account too, since you’ll want that owned by your LLC instead of you. All of this creates “separation” between you and your LLC, but again; it’s still you that people are interacting with… since LLCs (and all legal entities) need natural persons to operate on their behalf (since they are inanimate in this context). Hope that helps!

      • Yes, that totally makes sense (and also aligns with what the woman at the PA business office said)!

        Thank you!

        • Cassandra, that’s awesome… glad to hear that. You’re welcome :)

  48. Hi – I’m about to form my first LLC and was wondering if I can form two DBAs within that LLC? Or is it better to form a second LLC and only have one DBA to each LLC? The two businesses are unique and would most likely require different licsenses.

    • Hi Jon, you can do either one. You can have have multiple DBAs under one LLC or can have multiple LLCs. Hope that helps.

  49. Would I need to file 2 dba’s for the same business due to punctuation? For example, is DBA the same as D.B.A.? or would I need to register DBA and D.B.A.?

    • Hi Christina, it’s tough to say based on a hypothetical. My guess is likely no, but I would call the state/municipality and ask them about both of your DBA names. Hope that helps.

  50. Hello I have a question. I have a colleague that formed an LLC to operate home health services and they changed their mind. I have been offered the XYZ, LLC and now I am in the process of getting paperwork business cards and everything to start seeing patients and get the company registered with a PECOS number which is something to do with billing medicare. My question is that as a healthcare provider I am not allowed an LLC my company has to be a PLLC. I went and submitted forms and now I am waiting approval of WXYZ, PLLC. Can the PLLC be over the LLC? xyz,LLC powered by WXYZ, PLLC is how all of the business cards look. Is that allowed or do I need to do something different. Will there need to be two different EIN numbers or can they share the number since I technically own both?

    • Hi Ebony, this is an interesting question. You’ll need to speak with an attorney to really dive into the details. Based on what you’ve shared, and on what we can interpret from what you’ve shared, it seems like the regular LLC (which I can’t tell if you bought it personally or your PLLC bought it) will be engaging in professional activities, which would not be allowed. Generally speaking though, a PLLC can own a regular LLC, as long as the regular LLC’s activities are incidental to the PLLC’s main business activities, but don’t require a professional license to carry out. All in all, it sounds like a quite a messy situation and we recommend seeking legal counsel to properly structure your business. Hope that helps.

  51. Hi, I have been in business for two years. When I opened my business, I looked online for any info that would help me open my business legally. I wanted to find out if I had to obtain a state license and I could not find any paperwork to fill out & send to the state but now that I am reading this website I am working if I made some mistakes. I thought Sole Proprietors like myself didn’t need to file a DBA, only LLC. My business name is not my legal name. Will I need to file for a DBA and be penalized since it has been two years since I opened? thanks!

    • Hi Angela, DBAs, Sole Proprietorships, and LLCs can get a little confusing since as a Sole Proprietor, you can do business under your first + last name or you can do business using a DBA. And if you form an LLC, you can do business under the filed legal name of the LLC or you can do business using a DBA. So if you formed an LLC, you don’t have to file a DBA (but you can). Does that help? I couldn’t fully understand what you ended up doing, so I answered generically. What is your business name? And did you also form an LLC? If so, what’s the name of your LLC? Thanks.

  52. Hello, so it looks like I made the mistake and filed a DBA when I didn’t have too. I formed an LLC and will be conducting business with its registered name. My questions is, is there anything I should do or someone I should notify about that error? Or would there not be any issues having filed the DBA.

    Thank you,

    • Hi David, there usually won’t be any issues with just leaving a DBA name “open” and unused, however, we recommend “closing the loop”. How to cancel/close your DBA name will depend on the state. In some states, DBAs are filed with the Secretary of State. In other states, they are filed with the County Clerk (or similar office). So you’ll need to call either your state or county’s office and ask how to cancel/close your DBA. It’s often called a Withdrawal or Cancellation of DBA (or something similar). Hope that helps!

  53. This article is just what I was looking for but I still can’t figure out an answer to my question. I have a non-trademarked LLC say “Xyz LLC.” I want to trademark multiple brands, eg: XyzKids, XyzSports, etc. These brands will of course be “doing business” under my parent “Xyz LLC” company. My question is, is it enough to trademark these brand names at a federal level or do I have to ALSO register each one as a DBA at the state-level or county-level?

    • Hi Zvi, a DBA and a Trademark are two different things. A DBA (aka “Doing Business As” or “Fictitious Name”) is registered at the state level or at the county level. Registering a DBA allows your LLC to do business under a name other than its legally filed name in either that state or county. However, a DBA doesn’t give you any exclusive rights over that name in your state or county (let alone in the rest of the United States).

      On the other hand, a Trademark under the federal law means any word, name, symbol, or device (or a combination of any or all four) used to identify and distinguish the goods or services of a business. Trademark registration is done at the federal level and is overseen by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO).

      So when you say a “non-trademarked LLC”. That’s not really the best way to think of it. You wouldn’t trademark an LLC name (like “XYZ Brand LLC”), but rather, you’d trademark a product or service (assuming that would be “XYZ Brand”).

      Going back to your question, it seems you need to do both. You need to register the DBA if your LLC will be doing business under a different legal name and you need to register a Trademark if you want national protection of your brand/product/service.

      HOWEVER… that is assuming your LLC is doing business under those DBAs. If you just have a product or a brand that your LLC sells, that doesn’t necessarily mean your LLC is doing business under those names. And in that case, you wouldn’t need to register a DBA.

      Hope that helps!

      • Thanks! How does one determine “If one just have a product or a brand that the LLC sells, which wouldn’t necessarily mean the LLC is doing business under those names?”

        For example, if Apple sold iphones that ONLY said “iphone” on it (no mention of apple) and all the information about this product was on (and not would they only then have to register “iphone” as a DBA?

        In other words, to avoid registering a DBA for a brand under the parent LLC, would it be enough to only add the LLC name on the brand package in small letters?

        • Hey Zvi, it would be a lot easier to help point you in the right direction if you could use your real-world scenario. All this intangible stuff is challenging enough to explain/think about it… but it’s more difficult in theoretical situations. Thanks for understanding.

      • Hello :) Ok, so I too want to brand a product. My company is XYZ LLC and my brand will be another name, we’ll call it ABC. I will trademark my brand name ABC, but I don’t have to file a DBA? If my website is and I sell my ABC product there, don’t I have to file a DBA? Geez, this is confusing!! :)

        • That’s the same question I had. Supposedly, you wouldn’t have to register a DBA if your website was like Apple’s iPhone website is and NOT but I’d love to hear another answer too.

        • Hi Chariti, LLCs, DBAs, and Trademarks can quickly get confusing. I know. Do you have the website live yet? If you could share the website link and the actual name of the DBA it would be a lot easier to point you in the right direction. It’s quite challenging to address the question in a broad hypothetical scenario. Thanks.

      • I have sent in a DBA for my HVAC company in the state of MD still waiting for the approval. I also have a resell shop at a local market . I will be starting a lawn service for my son I. The spring can I file a Llc and run everything under one LLC just under different DBA?

        • Hi Harold, you can form an LLC and then that LLC can register multiple DBAs for the various business activities. Also, keep in mind that the DBA you registered now is for a Sole Proprietorship. You may be able to transfer that DBA to your LLC after your form the LLC. You may also find this article helpful: Can I have 2 businesses under 1 LLC. Hope that helps.

  54. Hi,

    I have registered a LLC in Delaware and will operate an online store under this LLC but with a different name from the LLC, so I would need to register a DBA at Delaware, right? I addition, I live in New York, so I have to file for foreign entity registration in New York. Do I also have to file a DBA in New York or is having the DBA registered in Delaware enough?

    Thank you for the helpful article.

    • Hi Nasim, you’re welcome! Correct, you’ll need to file a DBA for your LLC in Delaware. After registering as a Foreign LLC in New York, I’d also file a DBA there too. Hope that helps.

  55. Good morning. I have found the best solution to my needs for my business. Thank you for replying to question. Have a great day.

    • Karen, I’m awaiting Matt’s reply to my above question. Glad to hear you’ve been able to resolve your business question. :-)

  56. This article is great, but has left me a little bit confused. I have an LLC (one person, no partnership) in PA. I want to add a DBA because I’m finding name I’ve chosen for the LLC is too narrow and the general public is thinking I offer only 1 type of service. So I need a DBA make with a broader scope so people know I can offer more than that the current LLC name indicates. From reading your article, I think I just need to register the fictitious name in PA and attach is to my existing LLC, correct? I’m thinking I might also have to tweek things at the bank for the ability to receive payments under the DBA name also. Am I on the right track?

      • My hair is falling out because my bank has no idea how to handle my DBA and are telling me I need to open all new business accounts. I’ve dug in my heels and am refusing. What can I give them to show they just need to attach the DBA to existing accounts?

        • Kelley, bummer to hear. Thanks really stinks. Can I ask which bank this is with? In my experience, most people at banks don’t understand how LLCs and DBAs actually function. I mean the Fictitious Name approval clearly shows its owned by the LLC, so there’s not much else documentation wise. The only thing I’m thinking at this time is to try another bank. I know that’s work, but do you have a TD Bank near you? I’ve had great luck with TD bank. I recommend calling ahead of time and speaking with the branch manager about opening a business bank account. Then set an appointment to meet with them and open the account.

  57. Just reading the extensive information on DBA s and how they are set up. I have an LLC for one of my business is and I want to set up another business doing something entirely different. In the state of Colorado DBA(trade name) on the state level I will have to do a DBA if I have read the information clearly with the secretary of state in Colorado. Under the DBA(trade name)in Colorado I don’t have to published. the DBA( trade name)name in the newspaper. What are your suggestions because I prefer to file another LLC for another business for better protection of my assets

    • Hi Karen, you don’t have to publish an ad in the newspaper for a Colorado LLC either. From what we see, most people who are starting a 2nd business form another LLC instead of filing a DBA (owned by an individual). This offers better liability protection and it keeps the 2 businesses separate, and therefore more organized. If you file a DBA owned by yourself this would be a Sole Proprietorship. I think you already have a lot of clarity, but if it helps, you may want to also read LLC vs Sole Proprietorship. Hope that helps!

      • I have a question as this will help me a great deal . so i have an LLC registered in Wyoming but I did not file a DBA, we do most of our business in New York so we were asked for an assumed name certificate. Would i file this in the state that i am doing business in or would i have to file it where my LLC got formed then file it in the state that i wish to Have a DBA

        • Hi Laith, you’d file a New York Certificate of Assumed Name. There is a section in the form that asks “The entity was formed or authorized under the following New York law (check one)”. In that section, you’d select “other” and write “Wyoming Limited Liability Company Act”. Hope that helps.

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