How to Register a DBA in Mississippi (Step-by-Step Guide)
Starting a new business can be daunting. There are many important decisions and countless legal terms to become familiar with. This article will highlight what a DBA means, situations in which you might need one, and a step-by-step guide for DBA registration in Mississippi.
What is a DBA?
DBA is an acronym for “doing business as” and refers to companies or individuals who operate under a name that differs from their legal name. It is often called a “fictitious business name,” “assumed name,” or “trade name.”
Registering for a DBA is a solution for companies that want a more marketable trade name. It allows a business to market itself under a different name while still being legally responsible under its legal name.
For instance, if John Smith owns a sole proprietorship offering financial services, he can register a DBA name, such as “Financial Services by John,” to market his products and services instead of using his own name.
The process for registering a DBA varies by state, but the protocol is usually:
- Choosing a unique business name
- Confirming its availability
- Filing the proper DBA forms with the relevant agency, such as the Secretary of State or the county clerk’s office
- Paying the DBA filing fees
Mississippi DBA name registration
Choose your name
According to Mississippi law, your DBA name does not need to be unique. It can be the same as an existing name in the Secretary of State’s records. There are still many benefits associated with having a unique business name that you should consider when naming your business.
There are some naming rules to consider when thinking of your new name:
- Avoid using any business entity suffix, such as LLC, Incorporated, corp, etc., unless your business is that entity.
- Avoid terms used and given in financial institutions such as “bank,” “trust company,” and other financial terms.
Check name availability
To check if your proposed name is in use, you can conduct a name search on the Mississippi Secretary of State’s website.
You can search by exact matches, names that sound the same, and business IDs.
Once you have checked to see if your name has been used in the state, we recommend checking to see if the domain or a related domain is available. Securing a website is an important marketing strategy for your business, and securing it at this point stops others from being able to use it.
Register your name
To register your DBA in Mississippi, you must complete and file a Fictitious Business Name Registration with the Secretary of State’s Office.
You can file the form online through the Secretary of State’s website.
The registration form will ask you to provide basic information about your business:
- Your name and address
- The fictitious name you intend to use
- The location of your business
- The nature of your business
Once you have filed the form online, you can pay for your registration.
There is no way to file your Fictitious Business Name Registration in person or by mail anymore.
Pay your filing fees
The cost is $25.
Renew, amend, or withdraw your DBA
- DBA registrations in Mississippi expire every five years, so you must renew your registration before December 31 of your fourth year to keep your DBA name in good standing. This costs $25.
- If you need to amend your DBA registration, such as changing the name or address of your business, you can do so by filing a Fictitious Business Name Amendment online.
- You can file a Fictitious Business Name Withdrawal form online if you need to withdraw your DBA registration.
Obtain an EIN
An EIN (Employer Identification Number) is a number the IRS gives to identify businesses for tax purposes.
If you are a sole proprietor with no employees, you can use your Social Security Number as your tax ID instead of applying for an EIN.
But you need to obtain an EIN if you are hiring employees or want to open a separate business bank account.
Open a business bank account
Upon receiving your EIN, you can open a business bank account.
There are countless benefits to a business bank account, it makes it far easier to accept checks and credit card payments, and it allows you to separate your personal assets and business finances.
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.
- 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, such as incorporating or forming an LLC, registering a DBA is often less expensive and less complex, making it a cost-effective option for small businesses.
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.
Who needs a DBA?
The following groups can benefit from registering a DBA:
- Sole proprietors: These individuals run their businesses without forming a separate legal entity. A DBA allows them to use a different name for marketing their products or services, giving them more flexibility to adapt to changes in the market.
- General partnerships: Joint ventures between two or more individuals who want to operate under a different name than the partners’ names. Partners can file a DBA to represent their partnership and increase brand recognition.
- Corporations: Companies often need to use a different name than their company name or take on multiple names for different business activities. For instance, if a company has a subsidiary that offers landscaping services under “Green Solutions LLC,” but they also want to get into selling gardening supplies, it can file a DBA for “Garden Supplies” to distinguish between the two business activities.
- Limited liability companies (LLCs): LLCs are flexible business structures that allow owners to limit their liability and protect their assets. LLCs can also file a DBA to conduct business under a different name or brand.
Why or why wouldn’t you need a DBA?
You would need a DBA if:
- You intend to operate your business under a name other than yours or your company’s.
- You want a trading name that is easier to market, remember, or describe your products or services.
- You are a sole proprietor, partnership, corporation, or LLC and want to conduct business under multiple names.
- You want to test a new product or market without changing your legal name.
You may not need a DBA if:
- You are operating your business under your personal or your company’s legal name.
- You are a single-owner LLC that does not need to perform business using a name other than your name or the name of your LLC.
Can I file my DBA in person or by mail?
In Mississippi, you must file your application online. We recommend contacting the Mississippi Secretary of State if you do not have internet access.
Does my DBA give me a business license?
Your DBA is not a business license. It is permission to use a different name while conducting business.
Why would I want a DBA, then?
A DBA can make much of your business life easier. It can make marketing easier, allow you to have a business bank account, and be more flexible than just using your legal name.
How long will it take to process my DBA?
Processing takes 1-2 business days. One of the benefits of only accepting online applications is the quick turnaround time.
Some states make you advertise your DBA in a local newspaper. Is it a requirement in Mississippi?
Mississippi does not have publication requirements, so you can start using your new DBA once you receive approval. There are benefits to advertising your DBA in a local newspaper.
Do I need to file in my county as well as my state?
Registration only occurs at the state level in Mississippi. You cannot file at the local level.
Find out how to register a DBA in your state
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