How to Register a DBA in Oregon (Step-by-Step Guide)
Starting a new business can be a difficult task. First-time business owners can be overwhelmed by the amount of legal jargon they have to become familiar with. There are countless forms to fill in, and going through this alone can be taxing. One of the most important decisions business owners will make is naming their business. One way this can be done is through a DBA. This article will explain what a DBA is, if and when you might need one, and a step-by-step guide for applying for a DBA in Oregon.
What is a DBA?
The abbreviation DBA means “doing business as” and refers to a company or individual that operates under a made-up business name. They are also referred to as “fictitious business names,” “assumed names,” and “trade names.” By opting for a DBA, a company can choose a more appealing trade name than its official title, which can help make its brand more marketable.
For example, a sole proprietor who sells handmade instruments, like Steve Clarke, may register a DBA name like “Handmade Guitars by Steve” instead of his own name.
Registering a DBA is a common practice for sole proprietors, general partnerships, and corporations that want to use a fictitious name that better describes their products or services or simply want to utilize an alternative name.
Registering a new DBA varies by state but generally involves:
- Selecting a unique business name.
- Verifying its availability.
- Submitting the appropriate paperwork to the government entity, such as the Secretary of State or the county clerk’s office.
- Paying a fee.
Oregon DBA name registration
DBAs are referred to as assumed business names in Oregon. These are the same as DBAs. It is simply just a different name.
Choose your name
The first step is to choose your name. When naming your business, it is important to stay across the naming regulations in Oregon. The full legislation can be found here.
We have outlined a few key points:
- The trade name must not be the same or confusingly similar to another registered trade name or the name of another registered business entity in Oregon.
- The regulations also prohibit using certain words or phrases in trade names, such as “bank” or “credit union,” unless the business is a bank or credit union.
- The rules also state that businesses may not use entity suffixes such as “LLC” or “Inc.” unless your business is indeed that type.
Check name availability
As all business names need to be unique in Oregon, you must cross-check your proposed business name with names already used in the state.
Go to the Oregon Secretary of State website and navigate to the “Find a business” page. Here you can search by business name or registration number.
Once you have confirmed your name is unique, we recommend buying up the web domain for your new name. If you buy the web domain, it prevents others from being able to use it. Websites are useful marketing tools; even if you aren’t ready to launch your site, we recommend buying them.
Register your name
Registering your new name can be done either online or filled in and printed.
All the forms can be found on Oregon assumed name forms webpage and the portal allowing you to register your name online.
To register online, you must create an account with a username and password.
The following information needs to be filled out in the form:
- The type of filing being made
- The assumed business name being registered
- The principal place of business and mailing address of the business
- The type of organization, such as sole proprietorship, corporation, or limited liability company
- The name and address of the business owner(s) or registered agent(s)
- A signature and date to certify the accuracy of the information provided.
If you are posting the form, it must be sent to:
Secretary of State
255 Capitol St. NE, Suite 151
Salem, OR 97310-1327
Pay your filing fees
The DBA filing fees in Oregon are $50.
You can apply for copies free of charge.
Renew, amend, or withdraw your DBA
- To keep your assumed business name up-to-date with the state of Oregon, it must be renewed every two years.
- This can be completed quickly and easily online.
- If you need to change your assumed business name, you can do so by completing the Assumed Business Name Amendment form.
- Please note that there is a $50 fee for changing the assumed name.
- Once the form is completed, it should be mailed to the Secretary of State at the following address:
Secretary of State
255 Capitol St. NE, Suite 151
Salem, OR 97310-1327
- If you need to cancel your fictitious name, complete the Assumed Business Name Cancellation form and pay a $50 processing fee. After filling out the form, mail it to the same address as above.
Obtain an EIN
An EIN (Employer Identification Number) is a unique nine-digit identification number the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) assigns to identify business entities for tax purposes.
- A DBA doesn’t create a separate legal entity or change your legal status.
- If you are a sole proprietor and don’t have employees, you can use your Social Security number as your tax ID instead of obtaining an EIN.
- However, if the DBA hires employees or wants to establish a separate business bank account, they must obtain an EIN.
Open a business bank account
After you have your DBA and EIN, you can open a business bank account. Opening a business bank account is recommended.
This will help separate your personal assets and business costs and allow you to easily take check and credit card payments.
Advantages and disadvantages of a DBA
There are many advantages to registering a DBA:
- Versatility: A trade name can be changed or updated more quickly than a legal business name, allowing business owners to adjust to market conditions or changes in their products or services.
- Separation of personal and business finances: A separate business bank account is possible by applying for a DBA, allowing you to conduct bank transactions under your startup’s name instead of your account. This enables you to receive and issue checks or credit card payments using your business name, making it easier to separate personal assets and business finances.
- Enhanced marketing opportunities: A well-chosen name can be more descriptive and memorable than a legal name. This alternative name can improve brand recognition and increase marketing and advertising opportunities.
- Cost-effective solution: Compared to other business entities, such as Limited Liability Companies (LLCs), registering an assumed name usually is less expensive and more straightforward, making it an affordable and timely option for small business owners and entrepreneurs.
There are some drawbacks to consider:
- Limited legal protection: They do not provide personal liability protection, meaning that the business owner is personally responsible for all debts, obligations, and lawsuits related to the business. This lack of legal protection can be a significant risk to some companies, depending on their industry or services.
- Additional legal and administrative obligations: Registering a new name requires complying with all legal requirements and registering the name with the relevant government agency, which can be time-consuming and add to the business owner’s administrative burden. This additional work can be particularly challenging for small businesses that lack dedicated legal or administrative staff.
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 would need a DBA:
- If you plan to run your business using a name that isn’t your own or your company’s legal name.
- If you want to create a more marketable, memorable, or descriptive name for your products or services.
- If you are a sole proprietor, partnership, corporation, or LLC and want to conduct business under different names.
- If you want to test new products or markets without changing your legal name.
You may not need a DBA if:
- If you operate your business using your personal or company’s legal name.
- If you are a single-owner LLC, that does not need to do business under a different name than your personal name or the name of your LLC.
Some states require me to advertise my DBA in a local newspaper. Do I have to do that in Oregon?
Oregon does not require you to advertise your DBA. There are many benefits to advertising your new business name in a local newspaper, but the state does not mandate it.
Does registering a name mean I have a business license?
Filing a business name registration with the Corporation Division does not mean you have a license. Contact the city or county where your business operates to acquire a license or consult the Business Xpress License Directory.
Do I need to register with my county as well?
There is no need to register with the county as well. On the DBA form, you will state what county you operate in. The state will then refer your registration to the county.
How long will it take to process my DBA?
It will take between 5-7 business days to process a DBA in Oregon.
Does a DBA change my business structure?
No, a DBA does not change the type of business you have. It allows you to do business under a different registered name.
Find out how to register a DBA in your state
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