How Many DBAs Can an LLC or Corporation Have? (Full Guide)
Many companies use DBA’s (Doing Business As) to do business under fictitious names. These include any name that is different than the legal names of the company’s owners. This is extremely common, and you might recognize examples such as Pepsi, Apple, and IBM.
If a business wants to operate under a DBA, they need to apply. The process of DBA filing is regulated by different local governments depending on the location of the formation. Though generally filing for a single DBA is enough, sometimes you may have a reason to run your business under multiple names, so how many DBAs can your business have?
The answer is an unlimited amount. As long as you go through the process to file for each name, your LLC or corporation can have as many DBAs as desired.
You can also check our comprehensive guide on how to file for DBA.
- Jump to Best LLC Formation Services
- How to File a DBA? (3 Options)
- Filing for a Single DBA
- Filing for Multiple DBAs
- Final Word
- Register Your Business Today with These Top-rated LLC Formation Services
- Frequently Asked Questions
How to File a DBA? (3 Options)
There are three methods by which you can file for your DBA: phone, mail, or online. These vary considerably in both the ease of filing and the time it takes for the government to respond.
1. Filing by Phone
The first method, filing by phone, can be difficult for many applicants due to call times being limited to set business hours and the long hold times. You will have to keep all needed documentation on hand, as well as a credit card for application fees when you make the call as well. However, working through the phone can get the ball rolling on the application process a lot quicker than mailing it.
2. Filing by Email
Filing by mail is typically fairly fast and easy to do, but the response from the government can take time. Simply print out the application, fill it out, and send it in with a check for payment as well as other required documents. Unfortunately, the typical 3-6 weeks mailing time, as well as the risk of the application being denied without the ability to correct it, can make this process cumbersome.
3. File Your Application Online
The final option is to file your application online, and this is often the quickest way to do it both in the time taken to fill it out and the time to get back to you. So, this is generally the best way to do it if you can.
Filing for a Single DBA
If your business wants to operate under a fictitious name, you need to apply for a DBA. Doing this ensures the government is aware of what actual business is associated with the fictitious name or DBA. It also helps the government to ensure only one business possesses any given name.
If you are applying for a single DBA, you only need to register once and file a single application. The rules for filing depend on your state of formation, and it is important to check local regulations.
Filing for Multiple DBAs
Having multiple DBA’s can be advantageous for a corporation or LLC for marketing purposes. It allows companies to have different names for different segments of their business without forming a separate company. This allows a company to have different names in different areas as well.
It’s also possible that a business may just want to give a different department or branch a different name. The business may have financial reasons for doing this. Finally, a business may choose to rebrand itself, and a new name for the business may be just the thing to do it.
There are many reasons for a company to have multiple DBAs, and it is legal to do so. A DBA is just a notice that a company is doing business under a fictitious name, and there are no laws limiting the number of DBAs an LLC or corporation can have. Although a business should consider whether having the additional name is useful.
Businesses filing for multiple DBAs must remember the increased difficulty of bookkeeping for both DBAs separately while still being liable for taxes as a single one. Plus, all DBAs still count as part of the same company and are therefore responsible for each other’s debts, unlike for two separately run and registered LLCs owned by the same individuals. This means that the risk of failure for one DBA affects every DBA owned by the company.
Between bookkeeping, liability, and simply the difficulty of registering for multiple DBAs, it is best to consider whether or not it is really going to help your business or simply prove a burden.
Filing for multiple DBAs can make it easy to separate part of your business or different business activities such as different products. However, this can make one segment of the business liable if the other one fails or is sued.
Another option is to file for another LLC or corporation with its own name. This can limit liability between each business. This way, if a customer sues one business, only that business is liable for the debt. Your other business assets are generally safe.
So, now you know how many DBAs an LLC or corporation can have, and the answer is limitless. There are many reasons an LLC or corporation may choose to have multiple DBAs, such as separate product lines, distinct markets, and distinguishing branches of a business.
Given the utility, many businesses choose to file for multiple DBAs, but it is important to consider whether or not each additional DBA adds utility or not. Unnecessary DBAs can make bookkeeping more difficult, increase risk, and require registering and renewing for each DBA.
Regardless of the difficulties, many LLC and corporations have a reason to register for multiple DBAs. So, fortunately, you can file for as many DBAs as you need.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Do any states have publication requirements for registering a DBA?
There are states that require businesses that are registering a DBA to publish a notice in a local newspaper. Publication requirements can vary, so it is best to check the specific requirements in your area before putting your notice in the local paper.
Are there restrictions on the name I can choose for my DBA?
You are not allowed to give your business any name, which would mislead the public. The name cannot lead people to believe your business operates in a different business structure. This means as an LLC, you cannot lead people to think you are a sole proprietorship, a general partnership, or a corporation. You should check the specific requirements for your area.
Will my DBA expire?
This really varies from state to state. Some states do not have expiration dates for DBAs, but others do. However, in states where DBAs do have expiration dates, the state will send you a notice reminding you that your DBA is about to expire and generally allowing you to renew it if you want.