No matter which structure you choose, you might also consider operating under a “doing business as” (DBA) name. This powerful branding tool allows you to conduct business using a name separate from your formal, registered company name.
It’s important to note that a DBA name is not a requirement, and many businesses operate successfully without adopting one. A DBA name comes in handy in various scenarios, though, whether you’re a company’s sole owner and you want to establish a business identity separate from your personal name or you’re a corporation launching a new product line under a unique name.
Each state has a different approach to regulating DBA names, and Alaska has specific laws regarding how to register and maintain your DBA name. Legal requirements, benefits, and restrictions of adopting a DBA name also vary based on your location.
This comprehensive guide is a useful resource for any business owner in Alaska considering a DBA name. You’ll learn the process for registering and maintaining a DBA name. Read on to learn everything you need to know about DBA names in Alaska.
What is an Alaska “doing business as” (DBA) name?
Essentially, a DBA name is a pseudonym for your business’s full legal name, the one you file with the state of Alaska when forming your company. It isn’t a separate business entity, though. For instance, you won’t owe taxes separately under your DBA name. It’s just another name for the business you’ve already established.
Also, in some states, there are no legal protections that come with assuming a DBA name. However, in Alaska, registering a DBA name gives you exclusive rights to that name for five years.
In Alaska, if you conduct business activities for your organization under a name different from your complete legal name, state regulations require that you register that name as a DBA name. Your state business license should indicate any DBA names you use.
It should be noted that different states sometimes use other names when referencing DBA names. Don’t be confused if you see them referred to as “fictitious business names,” “assumed names,” or “trade names” while researching DBA names. In Alaska, you might hear DBA names referred to as “trade names,” “assumed names,” or “also known as” (AKA). DBA names are a more formal recognition of this pseudonym.
There are two main categories of businesses that tend to seek DBA names:
- Sole proprietorships and partnerships: These types of businesses use DBA names to forge an identity separate from the names of their owners.
- Corporations and LLCs: These types of businesses are often required to include specific phrases, like “Corporation,” “Company,” “Limited,” or “Incorporated,” or an abbreviation of these words, in their names. Using a DBA name allows them to condense their formal names when promoting their services or products.
Since a DBA name doesn’t create a new business entity, alter your tax status, or provide any personal liability protection, you might wonder why you might need a DBA name. Depending on your business needs, though, various benefits come with using a DBA name.
- Appear more professional: If you’re a sole proprietor or working with a partner, doing business under a name other than your personal name will provide an appearance of professionalism for your venture. Clients and vendors are also likely to have more trust in a named business.
- Lose the formal name: As mentioned, corporations and LLCs are required to have certain designators included in their formal names. This can sound bulky or stuffy to the public. A DBA name allows you to move away from your formal name when promoting your company and use a trimmer name to resonate more with customers.
- Launch a new product: If your company offers more than one recognizable product, you might consider a DBA name. This allows you to brand and market each product line separately with its own identity while still being owned by the same company.
- Open a bank account: A DBA name comes with the freedom to conduct business transactions under this name. If you want to open a business bank account under your DBA name, though, financial institutions will require that this name be formally adopted and registered in your state. They’ll want to review a copy of this paperwork when you’re opening your account.
- Claim your name: By registering your DBA name, you’re formally claiming your name, which deters others from using it. Otherwise, you could have a marketing nightmare on your hands.
If you’re an Alaska business owner and think a DBA name might be right for you, keep reading. This guide will provide a detailed overview of how to register a DBA name in Alaska.
How do I choose an Alaska DBA name?
The biggest reason many business owners use a DBA name is for marketing purposes. When choosing your Alaska DBA name, you need to select a distinctive name that best represents your products or services. You want to choose a name that is memorable for your customers and one that will be impactful.
You’ll also need to follow state guidelines when adopting a DBA name. In Alaska, your DBA name must be distinguishable from any registered corporate business name on record. Before registering your DBA name, do a name search on the state’s lookup tool to see if any business entities are already using your desired name.
Obtaining a business license alone does not protect your DBA name and keep others from using it. In fact, multiple business licenses may be issued under the same name. Only registering a business or corporate name when forming your company gives you the exclusive right to that name. Alaska also dictates that DBA names don’t include any corporate designators, such as “Corporation” or “Limited Liability Company,” or an abbreviation of these words.
How do I register an Alaska DBA name?
To register your DBA name, you must file with the Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development’s Division of Corporations, Business, and Professional Licensing. The state requires that you fill out a form called the Business Name Registration. This can also be done online.
Here are the steps to take when registering your Alaska DBA name:
- Obtain a business license. Before you can register your DBA name, you must get a corresponding business license and register your business with the state. The name on your Alaska business license and your DBA name should match exactly.
- Determine if your name is distinguishable. Before registering your DBA name, double-check to make sure it’s distinguishable from any corporate name in use in Alaska.
- Go to the section of the Division of Corporations, Business, and Professional Licensing website, where you can find the Business Name Registration form.
- Determine if you are going to file online, mail in your registration, or email it.
- Enter all the information requested by the form: DBA business name, business license number, type of business, business address, owner name and address, Alaska Entity Number (if relevant), and the nature of the business.
- Sign your form. If you’re a sole proprietor, only your signature is required. If you’re a partnership, only one owning partner must sign it. If the DBA name is being filed by a business entity, the individual signing must be on record with the state as an authorized signer.
- Provide contact information. A separate contact information form is attached to the Business Name Registration form. This contact information won’t be filed for record or appear online, but it will be used to assist with processing your DBA name registration.
- Don’t forget your $25 filing fee. You can pay this fee by check or money order made out to the State of Alaska or by credit card. A credit card authorization form is attached to the Business Name Registration form if you’re filing by mail.
- Check with your county and city where you do business to determine if they have any separate DBA name filing requirements at the local level.
How do I manage ongoing DBA name compliance in Alaska?
A registered Alaska DBA name is valid for five years. This means you’ll need to renew it every five years if you intend to continue operating under that name. It must be renewed between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31 of the year it’s set to expire.
It’s easy enough to renew your DBA name registration. You just need to fill out the Renew Business Name Registration form. You’ll also need to pay the same $25 filing fee every five years.
Some states require advertisement of your DBA name registration in a newspaper or publication in your primary county of business. This isn’t a requirement in Alaska, though.
If you need to change your DBA name, the steps you’ll take will depend on the nature of this update. If you’re changing the DBA name, you’ll need to fill out a new registration form. You’ll also likely need a new business license to reflect this name.
If you decide to terminate your DBA name, you can do so by canceling your business license of the same name. There is no fee associated with filing the form to request inactivation of your business license.
Alaska DBA FAQs
- How much does it cost to register an Alaska DBA name?
To apply for a DBA or assumed name in Alaska, you need to file a Business Name Registration form with the Division of Corporations, Business, and Professional Licensing. There is a $25 filing fee associated with this form. Your DBA name registration is good for five years before you need to renew it again. The renewal fee is also $25.
There could also be other costs associated with adopting a DBA name. For instance, the costs will vary for your initial business registration and license based on the type of business you form. There are also marketing costs associated with your DBA name, including printed materials and a domain name.
- What is the processing time to register an Alaska DBA?
The processing time is faster if you file online. It takes longer when you file a hard copy of your form by email or mail.
When you file a paper copy of your Business Name Registration, the standard processing time is 10 to 15 days from March to September. From October to February, expect delays, as processing will take longer than 15 days.
- Do I need a DBA name for my Alaska business?
When you form your business, there is no expectation or requirement that you adopt a DBA name. Each business has unique needs that will determine whether an assumed name is beneficial for you.
As a sole proprietor or partnership, a DBA allows you to operate under a name other than your legal name. As a corporation or LLC, a DBA name allows you to condense your formal name by dropping the business signifiers, such as “LLC” or “Corporation,” and streamline your marketing efforts.
In Alaska, if you operate under a name other than your formal business name, you’re legally required to register that name as a DBA.
- If I register a DBA name in Alaska, can another business use the same name?
Once you’ve registered your DBA business name in Alaska, you have exclusive rights to it for five years. No other business can use this name.
It’s important to note that only filing for a business license under the same name doesn’t offer this protection. The name registration is needed. For further brand protection, you can trademark the name when filing it.
- Can a business in Alaska have multiple DBA names?
Your business can adopt multiple DBA names for different products or services. This could help with establishing distinct brands under the same business.
For instance, a bookseller might operate a brick-and-mortar bookshop that sells new and used titles and an online store that focuses on rare and collectible books. These businesses are related but will likely have different audiences and marketing needs. By obtaining two separate DBA names, this allows them to create a unique brand for each endeavor.
- Is a DBA name the same thing as a fictitious business name in Alaska?
The term “fictitious name” is often synonymous with a DBA name. In Alaska, though, DBA names are also referred to as “assumed names,” “AKA names,” or “trade names.” A DBA name is the more formal name for a business’s pseudonym.
- Do I need a DBA name in Alaska if I use my own name for a sole proprietorship?
As a sole proprietor, a DBA name is not required in Alaska. Many sole proprietors successfully operate their business under their own name.
You do have the option of establishing a DBA name, though. This helps to separate your business from your personal name. It’s beneficial from a marketing standpoint, too, as you’re promoting a brand rather than yourself.
- Will using a DBA name affect how my business is taxed in Alaska?
When registering a DBA name, you aren’t establishing a new business identity. It’s just a marketing tool for your company. This means a DBA name doesn’t alter the way your business is taxed.
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