How to Register a DBA in Indiana (Step-by-Step Guide)
If you’re launching a new business in Indiana, there are various decisions to make. You’ll need to become familiar with numerous legal terms and acronyms. This article will focus on DBAs (Doing Business As) in Indiana. It will explain what a DBA means, if your company must have one, and how to apply for a DBA in Indiana.
What is a DBA?
DBA is an acronym for “doing business as,” which describes companies or individuals who operate under a name different from their legal name. A DBA name is often called an assumed name, fictitious business name, or trade name.
For example, if Susan Lee owns a sole proprietorship that provides pet grooming services, she can register a new name, such as “Paws and Claws Pet Grooming,” to market her products and services instead of using her own name.
The process of registering varies from state to state. Usually, it involves:
- Choosing a unique name
- Confirming its availability
- Filing the proper forms with the relevant government agency
- Paying a filing fee
Indiana DBA name registration
It’s important to know that sole proprietors and general partnerships must file their DBA with the County Recorder where the business is located. Real estate investment firms and estates must file with the county.
For formally incorporated businesses, the Indiana Secretary of State is responsible for receiving the Certificate of Assumed Name. This applies to:
- For-profit and non-profit corporations
- Limited liability companies and partnerships
- All foreign filing entities
Choose your name
The next step is to think of the name of your business. Following the state rules around naming regulations is vital to ensure your DBA registration is passed through.
Businesses operating in Indiana are required to avoid using specific terms:
- Any words that may cause confusion between the business and a government agency, such as the FBI, Treasury, or State Department.
- The word “bank” or its variations is prohibited without prior approval from the Indiana Department of Financial Institutions.
- Businesses are prohibited from using “medical” unless they are a professional corporation and all shareholders hold a medical license.
- You need to be aware of additional naming rules for corporations and LLCs.
- Names in Indiana do not have to be unique, but there are many benefits to choosing a unique name.
Check name availability
All business types can complete name searches in the same way.
- Head to the Indiana Secretary of State website.
- Click on the links to the Inbiz home page.
- Select the business entity search page.
- Here you can search by name, business ID, or filing name.
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
The way you register your new DBA depends on your business structure.
As a sole proprietor or general partnership
- For Sole Proprietorships or Partnerships, filing a Certificate of Assumed Business Name with the relevant county recorder’s office(s) is mandatory.
- Identifying the county to file in is straightforward; you must file in any county where your business operates or conducts business.
- You can find a list of county recorders here.
Here the process differs from county to county. We will walk through an example for Marion County.
- Find the form on the county recorders’ website.
- Complete the form. It will be notarized at the County Recorder’s office.
- Submit the form by mail or in person at:
Marion County Recorder’s Office
200 E. Washington Street
Indianapolis, IN 46204
Certain counties within Indiana now allow electronic DBA filing through a third party with a registered agent.
As a formal business entity
- Formally formed business entities must file their name certificates at the state level.
- Access the Indiana Secretary of State’s website and register with INBiz to complete the application through the “Update my business” button.
- Alternatively, download and fill in the form.
- Fill out the application form with the necessary information, such as full names, physical addresses, telephone numbers, and business details, including Employer Identification Numbers for corporations.
- Submit the completed application form to:
Indiana Secretary of State
Business Services Division
302 West Washington St., Room E018
Indianapolis, IN 46204
Request a notarized copy of the application once it has been submitted.
Pay your filing fees
For sole proprietors and general partnerships
DBA registrations cost $35. You can pay with a credit card or cash.
As a formal business entity
Filing a DBA for LLCs, corporations, LPs, and LLPs is $30 if submitted in person or by mail, while online filing costs $20.
For non-profits, the filing fee is $26 if filed in person or by mail but only $10 if filed online.
Renew, amend, or withdraw your DBA
- Renewing the business’s name in Indiana is not required after approval.
- To make changes to your name, you can complete the same form used for registering your DBA name, and you must follow the same process with the County Recorder’s office where the name was first registered.
- The cost of amendments will vary depending on the county, but it usually ranges between $10 and $35.
- If you want to withdraw your DBA name, you can complete the Cancellation of Assumed Business Name form, and there is no charge for this.
Obtain an EIN
The IRS issues an EIN (Employee Identification Number) for tax purposes.
It is important to remember that your DBA doesn’t establish a legal entity.
You do not need to apply for an EIN if you are a sole proprietor with no employees. You can use your Social Security Number as a tax ID.
If you intend to hire employees or open a business bank account using your new DBA name, you may need to file for a new EIN.
Obtaining an EIN can be done online or via mail application.
Open a business bank account
With your EIN, you can open a new business bank account using your new name.
Opening a business bank account makes accepting check and credit card payments far easier and helps segregate personal and business finances.
- Indiana Secretary of State’s website
- Inbiz home page
- Indiana business entity search page
- Indiana county recorders
- Marion county certificate of assumed business name form
- Electronic DBA filing
- Register with INBiz
- Certificate of Assumed Business Name (Form 30353)
- Cancellation of Assumed Business Name form
- EIN application
Advantages and disadvantages of a DBA
There are many advantages to registering a DBA:
- Brand flexibility: A DBA name can be more versatile than a legal business name. It can be changed if needed, allowing businesses to adapt to product or market changes. A business owner can use multiple DBA names for marketing different products or services, which can help expand their reach and target new customers.
- Improved financial management: By opening a business bank account under a DBA name, business owners can use their business name on bank transactions, making it easier to keep one’s personal and business finances separate.
- Better marketing opportunities: A well-chosen name can be more memorable and descriptive than a legal name, making it easier for customers to recognize and remember the brand.
- Cost-effective option: Compared to other business structures, such as incorporating or forming an LLC, registering a DBA is often less expensive and more manageable, making it a cost-effective option for small businesses and entrepreneurs.
There are a few drawbacks to registering a DBA name:
- Limited legal protection: Unlike other business structures like Limited Liability companies or corporations, DBAs do not provide personal liability protection. The business owner is then personally responsible for all debts, obligations, and legal issues associated with the business. The business owner’s personal assets could be at risk if the company is sued.
Who needs a DBA?
- Sole proprietors: Business owners who operate without creating a separate legal entity. A DBA allows them to use a different name for marketing their products or services, allowing them to adapt to market changes more effectively.
- Partnerships: Joint ventures between two or more individuals who want to operate under a name other than their partners’ names. Filing a DBA can help partners represent their partnership and increase brand recognition.
- Corporations: Companies that wish to use a name different from their legal name or diversify their business activities under multiple names. For example, suppose a corporation has a subsidiary that sells software named “Tech Solutions LLC” but also wants to sell hardware. In that case, it can file a DBA for “Tech Hardware” to differentiate between the two business activities.
Why or why wouldn’t you need a DBA?
You would need a DBA if:
- Operating under a different name: If you plan to use a name that differs from your legal or company name, then a DBA may be necessary.
- Multiple business names: Corporations, LLCs, sole proprietorships, and partnerships that operate under numerous business names may need a DBA to keep their branding and legal structures distinct.
- Test new products or markets: A DBA can be useful for testing new products or entering new markets without changing your legal name.
When a DBA may not be necessary:
- Operating under the legal or personal name: A DBA may not be necessary if you operate under your or your company’s legal name.
How long does it usually take to register a DBA in Indiana?
The processing time for a DBA registration in Indiana can vary depending on the method of filing. If you file online, processing can take as little as one day. If you file by mail, it can take up to 10 business days.
Does my DBA expire?
In Indiana, all DBAs do not expire.
What are the benefits to small business owners?
A DBA allows small business owners to have a distinctive name, aids banking transactions, provides credibility, increases flexibility, and enables compliance with legal requirements.
Can I file online?
Filing online depends on the type of business you are in. Corporations can file online, whereas general partnerships and sole proprietors need to file on a local level, the decision to file online comes from the county recorder.
What happens if I don’t register for a DBA?
You may face legal and financial consequences if you don’t register a DBA and do business under any name other than your legal name.
Do I need a separate tax ID number for my DBA in Indiana?
No, you do not need a separate tax ID number for your DBA in Indiana. You will use your existing tax ID number for your company.
Do I need to register my DBA with the IRS?
No, you do not need to register your DBA with the IRS. However, you may need to update your tax information with the IRS if you use a DBA.
Do I need to advertise my DBA in a local newspaper?
Advertising your DBA is not necessary in Indiana.
Find out how to register a DBA in your state
Click below to get started