What Does DBA Mean Legally?

Jason (P) David
Last Updated: April 26, 2021
Date Published: April 13, 2021

The question “What Does DBA Mean Legally” comes up often and Doing Business As (DBA) refers to a fictitious name under which businesses operate, while LLC’s (limited liability companies) are legal entities that are separate from business owners to provide liability protection to the owner(s).

One common misconception is that a DBA is a type of business structure or business entity.

A DBA isn’t a business structure and doesn’t provide any personal asset protection like an LLC or corporation.

DBA legally means using a different name to operate your business under.

Owners must register a DBA only if they use a different name on items like business signs, letterheads, advertisements, and so on.

This DBA name is something other than the names of the legal owners of the business (for sole proprietors and partnerships) or the business name the owners listed on the formation paperwork (for LLCs and corporations).

Sole proprietorships and general partnerships are legally required to operate under the personal name of the owner.

In order for a sole proprietorship or general partnership to operate under a different name, they would have to file a DBA.

Conducting business under an unregistered name is illegal and can lead to fines and even your business being shut down.

Filing a DBA is easy and costs anywhere between $10 – $200.

Learn all about DBA’s and how to file them here.