How to Register a DBA in Arizona (Step-by-Step Guide)
Understanding the legal requirements and jargon is important when starting a new business in Arizona. One vital aspect to consider is securing a DBA if you plan to do business using a name that varies from your official business name. This article offers an overview of a DBA, a step-by-step guide to getting one in Arizona, and the benefits of a DBA.
What is a DBA?
The acronym DBA, which stands for ‘doing business as,’ represents a company or individual operating under a fictitious business name. A DBA is a solution if your company wants a more marketable trade name than its official title.
For example, if Steve Clarke owns a sole proprietorship that sells handmade instruments, he can register a DBA name, such as “Handmade guitars by Steve,” to market his products and services instead of using his own name.
Registering a new DBA varies by state but typically involves:
- Choosing a unique business name
- Checking for availability
- Filing the proper forms with the relevant government agency, such as the Secretary of State or the county clerk’s office
- Paying a filing fee
Arizona DBA name registration
In Arizona, DBA names are often referred to as trade names.
Choose your name
Before you search for your trade name, you must make your new name comply with Arizona law.
All need to be unique.
Approval from the state’s Department of Financial Institutions is required for including certain words in your company’s trade name in Arizona. These words include financial terms such as “Bank,” “Banker,” and “Banking,” amongst others.
Arizona also states that trade names can’t contain business entity designations like “LLC” or “corporation.”
The Arizona Trade Name and Trademark Handbook further detail the state’s trade name requirements.
Check name availability
First, verify the availability of your desired fictitious name in the Arizona Secretary of State Business Entity database.
Once you have confirmed that your name isn’t already in use and meets the state-level naming requirements, we suggest buying the web domain of your new name. Even if you are not ready to launch your website, it prevents others from buying the domain and will be a useful marketing tool in the future.
Register your name
All applications need to be processed online.
- Navigate to the “Trade Names and Trademarks” homepage.
- Scroll down to “Online Trade Name & Trademark Forms“
- Select “Trade Name Registration Application“
- You will be asked to enter your preferred trade name to verify availability.
- The online form will ask for essential details, such as your;
- Trade name
- The date of application
- Type of business
- A brief description of your business
- Contact information
- It is important to double-check your application.
A thorough evaluation is conducted when seeking approval. You will receive a comprehensive explanation if your application is denied. You can use this feedback to make necessary adjustments and submit your application again.
Pay your filing fees
- The cost of registering your trade name is $10.
- You can apply for a duplicate certificate for $3.
Renew, amend, or withdraw your DBA
To continue using your trade name, you must renew it every five years by completing the online renewal process, which costs $10.
Arizona advises owners to renew their registration at least six months before it expires. Only the current owner is allowed to renew the trade name.
If you want to change your trade name, you must fill out a new registration form and file it online, including updated information such as addresses and ownership. The filing fee for this amendment is $3.
If you want to cancel your trade name, fill in the cancellation form. Canceling your trade name is free.
Obtain an EIN
The IRS issues an EIN (employer identification number) to companies with employees.
Having a DBA (doing business as) does not alter your company’s legal structure, so if you already have an EIN, there is no need to obtain another one.
Their Social Security Number can be their tax ID for sole proprietors without employees.
If you plan to establish a business bank account, an EIN is necessary.
Open a business bank account
After you receive your new name and EIN, you can open a business bank account.
A business bank account is useful as it allows you to separate your personal assets and business finances. It also makes it much easier to receive different payments, such as credit cards and checks.
Advantages and disadvantages of a DBA
There are many advantages to registering a DBA:
- Flexibility: A DBA name can be changed or updated more easily than a company name, giving business owners more flexibility to adapt to changes in their products, services, or market conditions. Business owners can also use multiple DBA names to target different markets or products.
- Separation of personal and business finances: A business bank account can be opened once you have a DBA, which allows you to use your startup’s name on bank transactions.
- Increased marketing opportunities: A well-chosen DBA name can be more descriptive and memorable than a legal name. This assumed name can help to increase brand recognition and improve marketing and advertising opportunities. Filing a DBA protects your brand by preventing others from using your name in certain states.
- Cost-effective alternative: Compared to other business structures, such as Limited Liability Companies (LLCs), registering a DBA is typically less expensive and less complex, making it a cost-effective alternative for small businesses and entrepreneurs.
There are a few disadvantages to registering a DBA:
- Limited liability protection: Unlike other business structures, such as LLCs, DBAs do not provide personal liability or legal protection, meaning that the business owner is personally responsible for all debts, obligations, and lawsuits related to the business.
- Increased legal and administrative burden: Using a DBA name requires registering the name with the relevant government agency and following all legal requirements, which can be time-consuming.
Who needs a DBA?
A DBA name is a valuable tool for those looking to operate a business under a name other than their legal name. This can include the following individuals and companies:
- Sole proprietors: Individuals who run a business independently without creating a separate legal entity can benefit from a DBA. It allows them to use a different name for marketing their products or services and adapt to market changes more easily.
- Partnerships: Joint ventures between two or more individuals who want to operate under a different name than the partners’ names can use a DBA to represent their partnership and increase brand recognition.
- Corporations: A business specializing in web design and development may file a DBA such as “Web Design Solutions” to differentiate its services from other web design businesses. Additionally, if a company has a subsidiary that offers recruitment services under the name “Casting Solutions LLC” but they also want to provide printing services, it can form a DBA named “Printing Services” to distinguish the two activities.
- Limited liability companies (LLCs): LLCs can file a DBA to conduct business under a different name or brand while enjoying the benefits of a flexible business structure that limits personal liability and protects assets.
Why or why wouldn’t you need a DBA?
A DBA is required when:
- You wish to operate your business under a name different from your personal name.
- You want to use a more memorable, descriptive, or marketable name for your products or services.
- Your business is a sole proprietorship, general partnership, corporation, or LLC that plans to conduct business under multiple names.
- You want to test new products or markets without altering your legal name.
When might a DBA not be needed? A DBA may not be necessary if:
- You operate your business under your personal or your company’s legal name.
- You are a single-owner LLC that does not need to do business under a name different from your name or the legal name of your LLC.
Is it possible to turn in my application in person or via mail?
Submitting your application in person or by mail is no longer possible. All applications are now online.
Can I transfer my trade name to someone else?
You must complete the Trade Name Assignment form online, print it out, have it notarized, and then submit it for a $10 fee.
How often do I need to renew?
Trade name registrations are valid for five years, but renewing your DBA before you reach the final six months is highly recommended.
Do I need to advertise my new name in a local newspaper?
You do not need to advertise in a local newspaper; however, doing so has many benefits.
How long will it take to process my DBA?
It takes between 2-3 weeks for your DBA to be processed.
Does my DBA mean I have a business license?
A DBA is not a business license. It allows you to operate under a different name.
What happens if I don’t register my DBA and use it?
In Arizona, registration of a trade name is not mandatory for conducting certain types of business under that name within the state. Using an unregistered trade name on official documents, such as those required to open a bank account, is prohibited. Additionally, if another business is already using the trade name, it is illegal to use it.
Find out how to register a DBA in your state
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