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How to File a DBA in Washington State [2022]

Overview

How to File a DBA in Washington State

In the state of Washington, a business operating under a fictitious name in the state 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 Washington

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. In Washington state, this name is officially referred to as a Trade Name.

When a business wants to operate under a name other than its legal name, the state of Washington, 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 business bank account, registering a merchant account to accept credit cards, and others.

Who needs to register for a Washington Trade Name?

The requirements and need to register a Trade Name are organized under Washington Statutes 19.80.  These requirements vary depending on the type of business entity.

Sole proprietorships and general partnerships are the most common entity to register for a Trade Name.

The legal name of a sole proprietor or general partnership can be the owner’s full first and last name, which can be used without registering.  For example, if Helen Wheels starts an auto repair business operating under the name Helen Wheels she doesn’t need to register.  If Helen decides to name her business Helen’s Auto Repair or even Helen Wheels Auto Repair, then she 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.

Related: What business licenses are needed in Washington?

How much does a DBA cost in Washington?

The cost to register a Trade Name is $5 with the Washington State Department of Revenue.  If starting a business, the $5 Trade Name fee is in addition to the $19 business license application fee.

What are the steps to file a Washington DBA?

Step 1: Verify Name Availability

A business may not register a name that is the same or similar to another business in Washington.

Names can be searched on the Washington Secretary of State’s website.  Learn how to do a business name search in Washington.

Step 2: – Fill out the Business License Application Form

A Trade Name is obtained by filling out a Business License Application with the Washington Department of Revenue.

The form asks for information such as the contact information of the owners, ownership structure, Unified Business Number (UBI), and date the business started.

This form can be submitted online or filed by mail.

Step 3: Submit the Form

Submit the filing fee and form to the State of Washington, Business Licensing Service. 

If mailing, send the form to:
State of Washington
Business Licensing Service
PO Box 9034
Olympia, WA 98507-9034

If you have questions about the process, you can contact the State of Washington at 800-451-7985 or  BLS@dor.wa.gov.

If you would prefer to have a someone else research DBA name availability and file the required forms, Swyft Filings, MyCompanyWorks, and LegalZoom offer a DBA registration service for $99, plus state fees.

Are there any words you can’t use?

DBAs can’t be registered using words that are related to banking unless the business is licensed to provide those services.

Does Washington require a DBA?

Trade Name registration is required when:
– A sole proprietor or general partnership wants to use a name other than the full legal name of the owner(s).
– A Corporation, Limited Partnership, or Limited Liability Company operating under a name other than the legal business name that is registered with the Secretary of State.

Can someone steal my business name?

While registering your Trade Name will keep someone else from registering the exact same name in the state of Washington, 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.

Related: How to trademark 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 Service (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 apply for an EIN

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