In Iowa, 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.

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.  

When a business wants to operate under a name other than their legal name, the state of Iowa, 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.

Who needs to register?

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 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.

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 it cost to register?

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 with an 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.

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 market “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

Name Restrictions

DBAs can’t be registered using words that are related to banks or insurance with words like banking, savings, trust, credit union or insurance unless the business is licensed to provide those services.  

Protecting your 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 registering a trademark to protect a business name.   

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