How to File an Assumed Business Name (DBA) in Indiana
In Indiana, a business operating under a fictitious name will need to register for an Assumed Business Name Certificate. Learn more about what an Assumed Business Name is, who needs one, and how to register.
Related: How to start a business in Indiana
What is an Assumed Business Name?
An Assumed Business Name, also known as a “DBA,” “Doing Business As,” “Trade Name,” or “Fictitious Name,” is a name used by a business that is different from the legal name of the business.
When a business wants to operate under a name other than the owner’s legal name, the state of Indiana, 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 an Assumed Name good for?
An Assumed Name is required for an Indiana business that wants to operate under a name that is different from the legal name of the owners or entity. The Assumed Name registration provides information on the people operating a business, so if there is an issue, the owners of a business can be tracked down.
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?
The requirements and need to register for an Assumed Name 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 proprietor or partnership can be the owner’s full first and last name, which can be used without registering in Indiana. For example, if John Smith starts a business repairing computers but doesn’t use a business name, he doesn’t have to register. If John decides to name his business John’s Computer Repair, then he will need to register.
Corporations Limited Liability Companies, Limited Partnerships, and Limited Liability 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 want to use a different name, such as when operating a different division or brand name under their corporate/LLC/LP/LLP umbrella, to keep the liability protection without forming another entity.
How much does a DBA cost in Indiana?
The filing fee for Sole Proprietorships and Partnerships to register for a Certificate of Assumed Name varies by county and is generally around $25.
Corporations and Limited Liability Companies will be charged $20 when filing online or $30 when filing by mail.
What are the steps to file for a DBA in Indiana?
Sole Proprietorships and Partnerships
Step 1: Obtain the Certificate of Assumed Business Name
Sole proprietorships and partnerships will obtain the form from the County Recorder in the county where the business’s principal office is located.
Some counties have this form available for download on their website, however, some require that the form be picked up from the County Recorder’s office.
Step 2: Fill out the Form
Common information requested on the form includes:
- Name being requested
- What the business does
- Address of the business
- Names of the owners
Step 3: Notarize the Form
Before signing, the form will need to be notarized. Most county offices have a notary on-site.
Step 4: File the Form
File the form with the County Recorder, and you will receive a certificate.
Corporations, LLCs, LLPs, & LPs
Step 1: Check for Name Availability
Assumed names will need to be different from any other registered names. Visit the Indiana Secretary of State’s name database to ensure the name you want to use isn’t already registered.
Step 2: Obtain the Form
Step 3: Fill out the Form
You can only apply for one name at a time on a form. To register for multiple names, you will need to use multiple forms.
Step 4: Submit the Form
If filing online, submit the form along with the filing fee.
If mailing, send to:
Indiana Secretary of State – Business Services Division
302 West Washington Street, Room E018
Indianapolis, IN 46204
Are there any naming restrictions when filing an Indiana DBA?
An Assumed Name can’t use a business entity suffix that is different from the type of entity. For example, a sole proprietorship can’t use LLC or corporation in its name.
Assumed Names also can’t be registered using words that are related to banks or insurance such as banking, savings, trust, credit union, or insurance unless the business is licensed by the Indiana Department of Financial Institutions to provide those services.
Names also can’t include wording that may refer to a government agency, such as Treasury, State Department, CIA, FBI, etc.
Can someone use my business name after registering an Indiana DBA?
While registering your Assumed Name will keep someone else from registering the exact same name for a corporation or LLC in Indiana, it does very little to stop someone else from operating a business under that name in other states. There is no protection at all for a sole proprietorship or partnership.
If stopping others from using your business name is important, you can protect it through a federal trademark through the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.
Learn more about trademarking a business name.
Is a DBA required in Indiana?
Any Indiana sole proprietorship or partnership that wants to do business under a name that is different from the owner’s full name or an Indiana corporation or LLC that wants to operate under a name that is different from the legal name of the entity is required to register the name.
Does a DBA need an EIN?
A DBA by itself doesn’t need an EIN, but the business entity may.
An EIN or Employer Identification Number (also informally called a business tax ID 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.