In Iowa, a business operating under a fictitious name will need to register a Trade Name Iowa. Learn more about what a Trade Name is, who needs one, and how to register.
Related: How to start a business in Iowa
What is a Trade Name?
A Trade Name, also known as a DBA or “Doing Business As,” Assumed 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 its legal name, the state of Iowa, like most states, requires 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 an Iowa DBA?
The requirements and need to register for a Trade 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. 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, 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 forming another entity.
By not registering a Trade Name, the business owner could be fined up to $100 or jailed for up to 30 days.
Iowa DBA Registration Form
Sole Proprietorships and Partnerships – Obtain the form from the County Recorder’s website or office.
Corporations and LLCs – Download from the Secretary of State – https://sos.iowa.gov/business/pdf/635_9999.pdf
How much does a DBA cost in Iowa?
Sole Proprietorships and Partnerships will pay $7 to the County Recorder for registering a Trade Name, while Corporations and LLCs will pay $5 to the Secretary of State to register.
This is a one-time fee.
What are the steps to file a DBA in Iowa?
Sole Proprietorships and Partnerships
Step 1 – Obtain the Form
Many County Recorders have the Trade Name form available for download, while some require the form to be picked up in-person.
Step 2 – Fill out the Form
Common information requested includes:
Name and address of people who have an ownership interest in the business
Business name being applied for
Address of the business
Step 3 – Notarize the Form
Before filing the form, be sure to have it notarized. Most county offices will have notary services available.
Step 4 – Submit the Form
Submit the form and filing fee to the County Recorder. Once filed, a Registration of Trade Name certificate will be provided.
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Corporations and LLCs
Step 1 – Obtain the Form
Download the Fictitious Name Resolution form from the Secretary of State.
Step 2 – Fill out the Form
Complete the form.
Information requested included the name of the applicant, name of the business, date, signature, and type of business entity.
Corporations will check the box marked “Iowa Business Corporation Act (profit corporation – Iowa Code ch. 490).
LLCs will check the box marked “Revised Uniform Limited Liability Company Act (Iowa Code ch. 489).
Step 3 – Submit the Form
Send the form and payment to:
Iowa Secretary of State
Business Services Division
Lucas Building, 1st Floor
Des Moines, Iowa 50319
DBAs can’t be registered using words related to banks or insurance with words like banking, savings, trust, credit union, or insurance unless the business is licensed to provide those services.
Can someone steal my business name?
While registering your Trade Name will keep someone else from registering the exact same name in Iowa, 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 Iowa