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 their legal name, the state of Texas, like most states, require the business to register their 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 business repairing computers operating under John Smith he doesn’t need to register. If John decides to name his business John’s Computer Repair then he will need to register.
Corporations and Limited Liability Companies 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 for sole proprietorships and partnerships in Texas varies by county but is usually around $15 per county.
Corporations & LLCs will be charged $25 to register with the Secretary of State and 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 Proprietorships & Partnerships
Step 1 – Verify Name Availability
Start of by conducting a name search in each county where the business will operate to verify the name you want to use is available.
Step 2 – Obtain the Form
An Assumed Name Certificate will have to be submitted with the County Clerk’s office in each county where the business is located or where business is conducted. 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
- 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 to 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 to each of the counties where the business will operate.
Save Time & Hassles
LegalZoom offers an inexpensive online DBA registration service that will let you skip the trip to the County Clerk’s office and register your business name in just one step.
Corporations & LLCs
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.
Names can be searched on the Secretary of State’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:
- Name being requested
- 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
Step 3 – Submit the Form
Be sure to submit in duplicate and send to:
Secretary of State
P.O. Box 13697
Austin, TX 78711-3697
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.
Can someone steal my business name?
While registering your Trade Name will keep someone else from registering the exact same name in Texas, it does very little from someone else 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.
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.