How to Register a DBA in Texas
If you’re a small business owner in the Lone Star State, you might want to start doing business under a different name than your own name or your legal business name. Fortunately, by registering a DBA, you can work under a trade name. If you want to know how to get a DBA in Texas but aren’t sure where to begin, this guide is for you.
First, what exactly is a DBA?
The acronym, which stands for doing-business-as, effectively means that you’re operating under a name that’s separate from your existing legal identity. That could be your birth name or the pre-existing name of a business entity you happen to own. A “DBA,” is sometimes referred to as a trade name, fictitious name or assumed name.
Legally “Doing Business As”
The government body with which you register your fictitious name will depend on the type of business you own. A sole proprietorship or general partnership should expect to submit their documents to the County Clerk. At the same time, limited liability companies (LLCs) or corporations are registered with the Texas Secretary of State.
A DBA is an excellent start to setting up your Texas business. However, be aware of a few key things you cannot do with a fictitious business name in the Lone Star State.
Using your real name: Texas does not allow you to register your real birth name as a DBA.
Mislabeling your DBA as an LLC or corporation: DBAs are a brand identity. If you opt for a DBA, you cannot add “limited liability company” or “corporation” to the name. You must register your business as an LLC or corporation to afford those benefits.
Anonymity: Some might mistakenly seek out a DBA to protect their private identity. It’s true that a fictitious name provides an alias for your business, these documents are a matter of public record. Therefore, do not create a DBA under the impression that you can hide that you are the owner and operator of the company in question.
How to File for Your Texas DBA
First, establish that the name you want to use is available by visiting the state’s taxable entity search engine. Choosing a unique name helps you brand your business and avoid issues with other businesses that have similar names.
DBA Requirements for Differing Business Entities
Be sure to check where and how to file your DBA forms based on the type of business entity you either own or of which you are a member.
Sole proprietors or partnerships: These individuals or partnerships f will file DBA paperwork in each county where the business has an office. If the business doesn’t have a physical presence in Texas, then the DBA should be filed in each county where it transacts business. Contact the county clerk’s office for information on forms and fees. Locate the correct county contact information through the state website.
LLCs, LLPs, corporations, or out-of-state businesses: These businesses must complete Form 503 or the Assumed Name Certificate, send completed forms to the Texas Secretary of State and pay $25. These business entities do not have to file with a county clerk.
Real estate brokers: Please note that the Texas Real Estate Commission or TREC requires brokers to successfully set up their DBAs before registering a trade name with their organization.
Submitting Your DBA Paperwork and Fees to the State
Prior to submission, make as many copies as necessary. For instance, the Secretary of State requires at least two completed copies of your Assumed Name Certificate. Hand in the documents directly by visiting the James Earl Rudder Office Building in Austin. If you choose to send a fax to 512-463-5709, remember to include the payment form. Always double-check that you’re using the latest forms and paying the correct fees. These items are subject to change over time.
After You Register Your Texas DBA
Once your DBA is approved, you’re good to go. However, you should be aware that Texas doesn’t allow you to own a fictitious name indefinitely. On the form, you must give a specific period of years during which you expect your DBA ownership to be active. The absolute limit is ten years. Texas law requires you to file a new assumed name certificate for your “doing business as” within six months of the original certificate’s expiration. Otherwise, you will lose your trade name.