How to Register a DBA in Kansas (Step-by-Step Guide)
Starting a new business in Kansas can be a daunting undertaking. There are many legal terms and acronyms to get familiar with, and it is important to understand as much as possible. This article will focus on what a DBA means, why and when to get one, and the pros and cons of registering a DBA.
Unfortunately, DBAs cannot be registered in Kansas, so we will look at alternative ways to conduct business under a different name.
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 desires a more marketable trade name than its official title. It allows a business to operate under a different name while still being legally responsible for the business under its legal name.
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 DBA is common for sole proprietors, general partnerships, and corporations who want to use a fictitious name that is more descriptive of their services or products or simply want to use a different 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 DBA filing fee.
Kansas DBA name registration
Unlike many states, Kansas does not allow businesses to register DBAs. This can create some challenges for businesses that want to operate under a name different from their legal name.
With a DBA, it can be easier to market your business under a different name, and you may run into issues when trying to open a business bank account. On top of this, your business name and intellectual property may not be fully protected.
In some states, having a registered DBA may not guarantee exclusive ownership of the assumed name, while other states provide exclusivity for DBA names.
Unfortunately, Kansas is not one of the states that permits DBA names.
Solution 1: File a name change amendment
You can file a name change amendment form if you are an LLC, corporation, or limited partnership and want to do business under a different name than your registered name.
Unlike a DBA, which allows you to conduct business under a different trade name while retaining your registered name, this form will change the name you originally registered with the secretary of state.
Form processing costs $35 for profit-making entities and $20 for nonprofit corporations.
The big difference between this and a DBA is that; in other states, you can file many DBAs to diversify your business and market different products. Here you are changing the registered name and cannot have more than one business name.
Solution 2: Reserve a name
Another option is to reserve a name for 120 days. When you have a reserved name, you can open business bank accounts under this name.
However, if you do not register this name as the formal name of your business within these 120 days, you lose the rights to use it. This may lead to further problems down the road, so we do not recommend this solution.
Sole proprietors and general partnerships
In Kansas, sole proprietors and general partnerships can use their legal name or an assumed business name to operate their business.
However, if you decide to use an assumed name, it must not be the same as any other registered business name in the state.
You can check for business names using the Kansas business search portal.
If you use a business name that is different from your legal name, you are not required to register a DBA with the state.
However, it’s advisable to confirm with your local city or county government whether there are any local requirements for registering your assumed name.
For example, if Jack Johnson operates a photography business under the name “Sunny Day Photos,” he may have to register his business name with the local government as it’s different from his legal name.
While Kansas doesn’t require or permit registering DBAs, informing your local government that you are operating under a different name is beneficial.
Advantages and disadvantages of a DBA
Registering a DBA can offer several benefits to businesses:
- Brand flexibility: A DBA can be more versatile than a personal name and can be changed if needed, allowing companies to adapt to product or service 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, business owners can use their business name on bank transactions, making it easier to separate one’s personal assets and business finances.
- Better marketing opportunities: A well-chosen name can be more memorable and descriptive, making it easier for customers to recognize and remember the brand.
- Cost-effective option: Compared to other business structures, like incorporating or forming a limited liability company (LLC), registering a DBA is often less expensive and less complex, making it a cost-effective option for small businesses and entrepreneurs.
There are a few drawbacks to registering a DBA:
- Limited legal protection: Unlike other business structures like LLCs 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.
- Increased legal and administrative burden: Registering a new name requires businesses to comply with all legal requirements and register the name with the relevant government agency. This can be a time-consuming process that may require the assistance of an attorney or other legal professional, which can be an added expense.
Who needs a DBA?
- Sole proprietorships: Individuals who own and operate their business without creating a separate legal entity.
- Partnerships: Joint ventures between two or more individuals who want to operate under a different name than the partners’ names.
- Corporations and LLCs: Business entities that want to use a name different from their legal name or diversify business under multiple names.
Why or why wouldn’t you need a DBA?
You need a DBA if you are:
- Operating under a different name: A DBA is necessary if you want to operate your business under a name that isn’t your legal or company name.
- Better marketing and branding: If you want to use a trading name that is more memorable or descriptive of your products or services, a DBA can help.
- Diversifying business activities: If you’re a sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, or LLC looking to conduct business under multiple names, a DBA is required.
- Testing new products or markets: A DBA can allow you to try new products or markets without changing your name.
You might not need a DBA if:
- Using legal name: A DBA is not needed if you’re operating your business under your personal or legal company name.
- Single-owner LLC with no alternative names: A DBA is unnecessary if you have a single-owner LLC and don’t need to conduct business under a different name.
So sole proprietors can file for a DBA?
No, state laws do not permit the registration and filing of DBAs. Kansas does not require sole proprietors to register or file either, this means they are free to conduct business under any name they wish, but it is best practice to inform your local city or county.
How can I protect my business name?
Contact your attorney about protecting your name, or considering filing a trademark.
Do all companies doing business in Kansas have to file with the Secretary of State?
In Kansas, sole proprietorships are not required to file with the Secretary of State. On the other hand, general partnerships may choose to file an application of authority or other statements with the Secretary of State, but this is not mandatory.
Can LLCs, corporations, and LPs use different names for different parts of their business?
No, they can only have one registered name, if they use a different name for conducting business, they may be punished.
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