How to Register a DBA in West Virginia (Step-by-Step Guide)

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by Team
Last updated: June 13th, 2024
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Starting a new business can be stressful and hard work. There is a lot of red tape to navigate, and it is important to stay up to date with paperwork and compliant with state laws. There are many important decisions to make that may influence your business’s success. One of these is naming your business. This article will look at how a DBA can help. We will examine what a DBA means, if and when your business needs one, the pros and cons of applying for one, and a step-by-step guide to applying in West Virginia.

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What is a DBA?

The DBA (doing business as) acronym refers to a company or individual conducting business operations under a fictitious business name. It can be viable if a business wants to use a more marketable trade name than its official title.

For instance, if John Smith operates a sole proprietorship that sells handmade candles, he can register a DBA name, such as “The Candle Co. by John,” to promote his products and services instead of using his own name.

The process for registering varies by state. Generally, the process involves

  1. Selecting a unique business name
  2. Verifying its availability
  3. Filing the appropriate forms with the relevant government agency, such as the Secretary of State or county clerk’s office
  4. Paying a filing fee associated with the registration process.

West Virginia DBA name registration

Choose your name

First, choose a name for your business. When choosing your name, staying compliant with state laws is important. The state’s name availability and requirements website provides rules for your new DBA name.

The rules outline the following requirements:

  • The name must be unique.
  • The name must be distinguishable from other businesses in the state.
  • Names cannot include business entity suffixes, like LLC, Incorporated, Corp., etc., unless the business is an LLC, corporation, etc.
  • Certain terms (such as “engineer” or “bank”) are only allowed to be used with prior approval.
  • The name must be registered with the West Virginia state tax department.

Check name availability

  • Once you have chosen your name, you must confirm its uniqueness.
  • If your business is a corporation, LLC, LP, or LLP, visit the West Virginia business search website to ensure another registered West Virginia business doesn’t take your name.
  • To double-check check your name isn’t in use, call the Secretary of State Business Division at (304) 558-8000.
  • Individuals, sole proprietorships, and general partnerships must contact the West Virginia State Tax Department to confirm availability. Call them on 304-558-3333.

Once you have confirmed that your name is unique and available in West Virginia, we recommend buying the web domain. A business website is a useful marketing tool. Even if you are not ready to launch your company’s website by buying the web domain, you prevent others from being able to purchase it.

Register your name

  • In West Virginia, you must register your DBA with the secretary of state. You can file online at West Virginia’s one-stop business portal or complete the registration forms.
  • If you are filing online, you first need to create an account.
  • If you complete your forms by hand, there are two separate forms. You will need to pick the form that represents your business entity:
  • The forms will ask for the following:
    • DBA name
    • Name and address of the registrant
    • Address of principal place of business
  • If you’re completing your forms by hand or printing out completed forms and intend to mail them in or deliver them, you can use the following filing addresses:

Charleston Office
One-Stop Business Center
1615 Washington Street East
Charleston, WV 25311

Clarksburg Office
North Central WV Business Center
200 West Main Street
Clarksburg, WV 26301

Martinsburg Office
Eastern Panhandle Business Center
229 E. Martin Street
Martinsburg, WV 25401

Pay your filing fees

  • The filing fee for corporations, LLCs, and LPs is $25.
    • For 24-hour expedited service, there is a fee of $25. The completed form can be emailed in.
    • For a 2-hour expedited service, there is a fee of $250. The completed form can be faxed in.
    • For a 1-hour expedited service, there is a fee of $500. The completed form has to be delivered by hand.
  • If you are a sole proprietor or general partnership, no costs are incurred unless you opt for expedited services.
    • For 24-hour expedited service, there is a fee of $25. The completed form can be emailed in.
    • For a 2-hour expedited service, there is a fee of $250. The completed form can be faxed in.
    • For a 1-hour expedited service, there is a fee of $500. The completed form has to be delivered by hand.

Renew, amend, or withdraw your DBA

Obtain an EIN

An employer identification number (EIN) is a unique number issued by the IRS to companies with employees.

If you are a sole proprietor with no employees, you can use your Social Security Number as your tax ID.

However, you will need an EIN to open a business bank account.

Even if you operate under a DBA name, you do not need to apply for another EIN if you already have one, as it does not change your company’s legal structure.

Open a business bank account

Once you have been assigned a new name and EIN, you can open a business bank account, which provides a variety of advantages.

A business bank account allows you to differentiate your personal and business finances, simplifying the process of accepting checks and credit card payments.

Useful links

Advantages and disadvantages of a DBA

There are many advantages to registering a DBA: 

  • Adaptability: An assumed name can be altered more easily than a legal business name. This allows business owners to be more adaptable to changes in the industry. With multiple DBA names, businesses can access more markets, attract customers, and increase brand recognition.
  • Clear financial separation: Filing for a DBA allows business owners to establish a business bank account under the company name instead of a personal account. This separation allows for more transparent financial records, prevents confusion, and protects personal assets. It also makes it easier to receive cheques and card payments.
  • Enhanced marketing opportunities: A well-crafted name can be more memorable, distinctive, and eye-catching than a legal business name. A unique name can make a strong customer impression, encourage brand recognition, and increase sales.
  • Cost-effective solution: Compared to more complicated business structures, like LLCs, name registrations are generally less costly and complicated, making them a viable solution for small businesses or entrepreneurs.

While DBAs offer a range of advantages, there are a few drawbacks to consider, including:

  • Limited Legal Protection: Unlike LLCs and corporations, DBAs do not provide the same personal liability protection. Business owners will be personally liable for all debts, obligations, and legal issues.

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 legal 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. However, LLCs can also file a DBA to conduct business under a different name or brand.

Why or why wouldn’t you need a DBA?

Here are some reasons why you might need a DBA:

  • 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. This can make marketing your products or services easier, help customers remember your name, and create a unique brand identity.
  • Multiple business names: Corporations, LLCs, sole proprietorships, and partnerships that operate under multiple 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.

A DBA might not be necessary if:

  • Operating under the legal or personal name: A DBA may not be necessary if you operate under your or your company’s legal name.
  • Single-owner LLC: A single-owner LLC that does not conduct business under a name that isn’t the owner’s or the LLC’s legal name may not require a DBA.


Do I need to apply for extra licenses?

DBAs are not business licenses. If you need a business license or extra licenses, contact your secretary of state.

Do I have to advertise my DBA?

Some states require you to advertise your new DBA name in a local newspaper, but West Virginia does not mandate this. However, there are many benefits to advertising your new business in your local area.

Do I need to file my new business locally? 

West Virginia DBAs are managed at the state level. There is no need to inform your county of your new business name.

Is a trade name the same as a DBA?

A DBA name is also called a trade name, fictitious name, or assumed name. They are all the same thing. In West Virginia, they are called trade names.

Can I register multiple DBAs for the same business in West Virginia?

Yes, you can register multiple DBAs for the same business in West Virginia as long as each name is unique and you file a separate registration for each name.

Find out how to register a DBA in your state

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