How to File a DBA in Texas
In Texas, a business operating under a fictitious name will need to register a DBA. Learn more about what a DBA is, who needs one and how to register.
Related: How to start a business in Texas
What is a DBA?
A DBA, also known as “Doing Business As,” Trade Name, Assumed Name, or Fictitious Name, is a name used by a business that is different from the legal name of the business. This name is often referred to as an Assumed Name in Texas.
When a business wants to operate under a name other than its legal name, the state of Texas, like most states, requires the business to register its business name. The registration requirement was designed to protect consumers from business owners hiding anonymously behind the name of a business.
What is a DBA good for?
A DBA is required for many businesses in order to legally operate and provides information on the people operating a business. In addition to the legal requirement, a DBA offers other benefits such as proving the existence of a business, opening a bank account under a business name, registering a merchant account to accept credit cards, and others.
Who needs to register for a Texas DBA?
The requirements and need to register an Assumed Business Name are organized under Texas Statutes Section 71.001. These requirements vary depending on the type of business entity.
Sole proprietorships and general partnerships are the most common entities to register for a DBA.
The legal name of a sole proprietorship or partnership can be the owner’s full first and last name, which can be used without registering. For example, if John Smith starts a Texas business repairing computers operating under John Smith, he doesn’t need to register. If John decides to use a different name and call his business John’s Computer Repair, then he will need to register.
Corporations, Limited Liability Companies, Limited Liability Partnerships, and Limited Partnerships won’t typically register a fictitious name since a unique entity name is created during the formation process. Some will file for a DBA if they have another business they want to operate under their corporate/LLC umbrella to keep the liability protection without having to form another entity.
How much does a DBA cost in Texas?
The filing fee to register an Assumed Name / DBA for sole proprietorships and partnerships in Texas varies by county but is usually around $15. A DBA registration will need to be filed in the county where a business office will be located. If there is no business office in the state of Texas, a filing is required in each county where the person conducts business.
Corporations & LLCs will be charged $25 to register with the Secretary of State, plus approximately $15 to file with the county where the principal office is located.
The name registration is valid for 10 years and can be renewed.
What are the steps to file a DBA in Texas?
Sole Proprietors & Partnerships
Step 1: Search Registered Names
Start off by conducting a name search in each county where the business will operate to verify the name you want to use is available. No other business can have the same name in the county where you are filing.
Step 2: Obtain the Assumed Name Form
An Assumed Name Certificate will have to be submitted to the County Clerk’s office where the business is located. If the business does not have an office in the state of Texas, a DBA will need to be filed with the County Clerk of each county where the business is physically operating.
Many County Clerks have the Assumed Name form on their website and are available to pick up in their office. List of County Clerk’s offices.
Step 3: Fill out the Form
Information requested on the form includes:
- Assumed name being registered
- The physical address of the business
- Type of entity
- Name and address of owners of the business
Step 4: Notarize the Form
Before signing the form, be sure to have a notary witness the signing of the documents. Most County Clerk’s offices offer notary services at no cost.
Step 5: Submit the Form
Submit the filing fee and form.
Corporations, LLCs, LPs & LLPs
Step 1: Verify Name Availability
A business may not register a name that is the same or similar to another corporation or LLC registered in Texas.
Registered names can be searched on the Texas Comptroller of Public Account’s website. Learn how to do a business name search in Texas.
Step 2: Fill out the Form
Information requested on the Assumed Name Certificate (Form 503) includes:
- Business name being requested
- The current legal name of the business
- Type of business entity
- Secretary of State file number
- Jurisdiction of the business
- Principal office address
- County/counties where the name will be used
- Assumed name registrant
Step 3: Submit the Form
The Assumed Name Certificate can be sent by Mail, by Fax, or submitted In-Person. The certificate must be submitted in duplicate!
To submit in person, go to the:
James Earl Rudder Office Building
Austin, Texas 78701
The mailing address is:
Texas Secretary of State
P.O. Box 13697
Austin, Texas 78711-3697
To send by fax, the number is: (512) 463-5709
Step 4: County Filing
In addition to filing with the Secretary of State, a DBA needs to be filed with the County Clerk’s office in the county where the principal office is located. If there is no principal office in Texas, a DBA will need to be filed in each county where the entity physically will do business.
Does a DBA protect your business name in Texas?
While registering your Assumed Name will restrict someone else from registering the exact same name, it does very little to stop someone else from operating a business under that name in other states. If stopping others from using your business name is important, you can protect it through a trademark.
Learn more about trademarking a business name.
Is a DBA required in Texas?
A DBA is required for any business operating in Texas under a name that is different than the legal name of its owners.
How many DBA can an LLC have in Texas?
There are no limitations to the number of DBAs that can be registered in Texas.
Does a DBA need an EIN?
An EIN or Employer Identification Number is a unique nine-digit number that some businesses will register for through the Internal Revenue Department (IRS). An EIN is required for partnerships, corporations, multi-member LLCs, or any business that has employees.
Sole proprietorships and single-member LLCs without employees can use the owner’s social security number to identify the business.
There is no cost to get an EIN when registering directly from the IRS.
Related: How to register for an EIN in Texas.
Can I get a Texas DBA online?
Sole proprietorships and partnerships will need to register with the county where the business is located.
While corporations and LLCs can file a DBA online with the Texas Secretary of State’s office online, they will still need to physically file with the county where the business is located. If the primary location of the business is outside of Texas, they will need to file with each county where the business physically works.
Are there any restrictions on the words used in a Texas DBA?
A name may not contains the words of a licensed professional such as doctor, lawyer, etc. Additionally, words that refer to banking or a university can’t be used unless the business is licensed.
Words such as lotto or lottery are restricted, as well as words that imply that the business is organized as or affiliated with groups such as veterans or those with disabilities unless the business is set up to do so.