How to Register a DBA in New York (Step-by-Step Guide)
When starting a new business in New York, several crucial decisions need to be made, and it can be overwhelming due to the numerous legal terms and acronyms. This article will focus on the significance of a DBA (Doing Business As) and its definition, the specific situations in which a business requires one, and the procedure for obtaining it in New York.
What is a DBA?
The term DBA is short for “doing business as” and refers to companies or individuals who operate under a name different from their legal name.
Registering for a DBA is an option for companies that want a more marketable trade name. This allows a business to market itself under a different name while still being responsible under its legal name.
For instance, if Jane Smith owns a sole proprietorship that makes handcrafted pottery, she can register a new DBA name, such as “Handcrafted Pottery by Jane,” to market her products and services instead of using her own name.
- Choosing a unique name
- Verifying its availability
- Filing the proper forms with the relevant government agency, such as the Secretary of State or the county clerk’s office
- Paying the associated costs
New York DBA name registration
DBA names can be referred to by various names, such as “fictitious business name,” “trade name,” or “assumed name.” In New York, the official term used to describe DBA names is “assumed name.”
Although an assumed name is not a legally recognized entity, businesses that operate under a name other than their name must register it.
The registration process depends on the type of business you have. Two distinct groups often seek names in New York. The first is sole proprietorships and partnerships; the second is corporations and limited liability companies (LLCs).
Choose your name
There are a few naming rules to keep in mind when brainstorming the name of your business:
- Avoid using words that could be confused with a government entity (e.g., FBI, Treasury, State Department).
- Certain words, such as “Bank,” “Attorney,” and “University,” may require additional documentation and the involvement of a licensed professional, like a doctor or lawyer, in your business.
- You can find a full list of restricted words and phrases here.
It’s a wise decision to verify the existence of any state or federal trademarks. In case of a conflict between trademark law and DBA name law, the law takes precedence.
Check name availability
Head to the New York Department of State website. This website will let your search for what names are already in use. It is important to note that unique names aren’t required in New York, but there are countless benefits to having a unique name.
After you have checked if your name is in use, we recommend purchasing the domain to prevent others from taking the web address. This enables you to establish your business website – a valuable tool for advertising your brand and services.
Register your name
If a legally registered company wishes to conduct business under a name different from its registered name, it must file a certificate with the New York State Department of State.
Businesses considered legally recognized entities include corporations, limited partnerships, and LLCs.
For all legally registered businesses seeking to obtain a DBA, complete the following steps:
- Open the certificate of assumed name form.
- Write the company’s legal name as it appears on officially registered documents in Section 130 of the General Business Law.
- Indicate how the company was registered in New York by checking off the appropriate option as it appears under No. 2 on the form.
- Check all counties where you currently conduct or intend to do business.
- Include the address of each location where you’ll be conducting transactions. You must provide the street name and number, city, state, and ZIP code. A second page is attached to the form for this purpose. Use two pages or check the box that states you don’t intend to do business in any other county in New York.
- Once the form is complete, deliver or mail it to the following address:
New York State Department of State Division of Corporations
One Commerce Plaza 99 Washington Avenue Albany, NY 12231.
For a sole proprietorship or general partnerships
The process is slightly different if you are a general partnership, sole proprietorship, or limited liability partnership.
- You have to file your Certificate of Assumed Name with the county clerk’s office in the county where you intend to do business.
- To initiate this process, you can contact your local county to request a form for filing a new name. If you are a sole proprietor or partnership, you can obtain an X-201 or X-74 form from a commercial or legal stationery store.
- To complete the form, follow the instructions or request further guidance from your county office. It’s important to note that filing fees may vary, so it’s best to check with your specific county for more information.
Pay your filing fees
- A filing fee of $25 is required.
- Corporations that do business in multiple counties must pay additional fees. The fee is $100 for each county within New York City (the Bronx, Kings, New York, Queens, and Richmond) and $25 for each county outside the city.
- The total fee for corporations to register this certificate is $1,950.
- Checks of $500 or more must be certified.
- In addition, certified copies of the certificate can be obtained for an additional fee of $10 each, which must be displayed at the official business location.
- For expedited processing, additional fees are required. Two-hour service costs $150, same-day service costs $75, and 24-hour service costs $25.
- Payment for expedited processing must be made separately from other costs.
For a sole proprietorship or general partnerships
- $100, extra certified copies are an additional $10 per copy
- The County Clerk accepts cash or credit card.
Publish your registration
Within 120 days of the filing date, you must publish a notice of your registration in a local newspaper in the county where your business is located.
You must obtain an Affidavit of Publication from the newspaper and file it with the New York State Department of State.
Renew, amend, or withdraw your DBA
- Your DBA does not expire in New York. It is yours until you withdraw or change it.
- As a corporation, if you want to make any changes to your DBA, you must fill in the amendment certificate form and return it to the secretary of state. The fee to amend your name is $25.
- To withdraw your name, you must fill in the certificate of discontinuation of an assumed name. The fee is $25.
- If you are a sole proprietor or part of a general partnership and want to change your DBA, you must fill out an amendment document at the County Clerk’s office.
- The County Clerk in New York will provide you with the necessary paperwork, and the registration fee is $121. Before visiting the County Clerk’s office, contact them to verify the procedures and criteria for the specific changes you require.
- To withdraw your DBA you need to register a certificate of discontinuance of the assumed name form with the New York County Clerk.
Obtain an EIN
The IRS assigns an Employer Identification Number (EIN) to business entities for tax purposes.
Sole proprietors with no employees can use their Social Security number as a tax ID, but an EIN is required if a DBA hires employees or has a separate business bank account.
An EIN can be obtained online or via mail application.
Open a business bank account
After obtaining your EIN, you can establish a business bank account using your new business name.
A distinct bank account enables you to distinguish your business finances from your assets.
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 and can be changed if needed, allowing businesses to adapt to changes in their products, services, or target markets. A business owner can use multiple 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 new name, owners can use their business name on bank transactions, making it easier to separate one’s personal assets and business finances. It also makes accepting payments, such as checks and credit card payments, easier.
- Better marketing opportunities: A well-chosen name can be more memorable and descriptive than a company 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 less complex, making it a cost-effective option for small business owners.
There are a few drawbacks to consider:
- Limited legal protection: Unlike other business structures like LLCs or corporations, DBAs do not provide personal liability protection. The owner is then personally responsible for all debts, obligations, and legal issues associated with the business. The owner’s assets could be at risk if the company is sued.
- Increased legal and administrative burden: Registering a 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 for small businesses.
Who needs a DBA?
The following groups may benefit from filing 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?
Under what circumstances would you need a DBA?
- Operating under a different name: A DBA is necessary if you want to operate your business under a name that isn’t your personal name 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 legal name.
When might you not need a DBA?
- Using legal name: A DBA is not needed if you’re operating your business under your personal or legal company name.
What’s the difference between a DBA and an assumed name?
They are the same thing. Different states refer to DBAs using different names.
Where do I file my DBA if I am a sole proprietor?
In New York, the County Clerk where a general partnership or sole proprietor operates their business must receive their DBA filing. The same requirement applies to real estate investment firms.
Where does an incorporated business file its DBA?
Incorporated businesses must file at the state level. The New York Department of State is the filing destination for incorporated businesses submitting their Certificate of Assumed Name.
Will I need a separate tax ID number for my DBA in New York?
No, you do not need a separate tax ID number for your DBA in New York. You can use your existing tax ID number for all business activities conducted under your DBA name. However, you must register for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) with the IRS if you have employees.
Can I operate a business under a name that is not registered as a DBA in New York?
No, you must register for a DBA in New York if you want to operate a business under a name that isn’t your legal business name. Operating under an unregistered name may result in fines or legal action.
How long does it take to complete a DBA registration in New York?
It typically takes 1-2 weeks for the New York Department of State to process a DBA registration application. You can opt for an expedited service if you want to pay an extra fee.
What information do I need to include in the Certificate of Assumed Name?
You will need to include your name or company name, the DBA name, the address of your business, and a brief description of the type of business you will be conducting.
Can I have multiple DBA names for my business?
Yes, you can have multiple DBA names for your business as long as you file a separate Certificate of Assumed Name for each one.
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