Whichever structure you select, you might also benefit from conducting your new business under a “doing business as” (DBA) name. A DBA name isn’t a legal entity. It’s more of a useful marketing tool that allows you to create a vibrant identity for your business that’s separate from the formal name established during your company’s formation.
You’re not required to adopt a DBA name, of course. This is a decision that you’ll make after evaluating your company’s needs.
There are various scenarios where a DBA name is beneficial to your business. Perhaps you’re a sole proprietor interested in creating some distance between your personal name and company. Or maybe you’re a corporate entity that plans to launch a product line under its own separate brand.
States regulate DBA names differently. Arizona has its own legal requirements, restrictions, and processes when registering and maintaining a DBA name, which is called a “trade name” in this state.
Read on to learn everything you need to know about establishing a DBA name in Arizona. This comprehensive guide is a useful resource for any business owner considering adopting a trade name and will walk you through the process of registering and maintaining this name.
What is an Arizona “doing business as” (DBA) name?
A DBA name allows a business entity to operate under a name that’s different from its legal title. You’ll register this name through Arizona’s Secretary of State.
To be clear, this doesn’t create a new legal entity. You won’t be taxed separately under this name, nor does it come with any liability protection. It’s just another name for your company, one that you’ll use for marketing purposes.
DBA names are referred to by various names in different states: “fictitious names,” “assumed names,” and “trade names” being some of the most common. In Arizona, DBA names are formally called “trade names,” although they’re essentially the same thing. When you register your business’s pseudonym, it will be as a trade name.
There are two main categories of businesses that tend to seek trade names:
- Sole proprietorships and partnerships: These structures use trade names to establish a business identity separate from the names of their owners.
- Corporations and LLCs: These business entities use DBA names when they want to operate under a different name or to condense their formal names. During formation, they’re required to include designators, such as “Corporation,” “Company,” “Limited,” or “Incorporated,” or an abbreviation of these words, in their names. A trade name allows them to drop these signifiers and simplify their names.
Although a trade name doesn’t establish a separate legal entity, there are still plenty of benefits that come with it. You might choose to operate under a DBA name for various reasons. It all comes down to your business’s needs. These benefits include:
- Project a professional appearance: Whether you’re a sole proprietor or involved in a partnership, adopting a trade name allows you to operate under a name other than your personal name. By doing so, your business will appear more professional to clients and vendors.
- Simplify your name: As noted, business entities, such as corporations and LLCs, are legally required to include signifiers in their formal names when they first form their business in Arizona. A DBA name allows you to drop those signifiers and trim your name, which can resonate more with customers.
- Introduce a new product or service: If you’re about to launch a new product or service that’s related to your company but would benefit from its own brand identity, you may want to consider adopting a trade name. This will allow you to market all of your offerings separately while still under the same ownership.
- Lay claim to your name: Registering a trade name doesn’t grant you exclusive rights to the use of this name. But once it’s on record, this might deter other companies from using it. This could prevent a marketing headache for you down the road.
If you think a trade name makes sense for your Arizona business, continue reading this comprehensive guide. This guide provides a detailed overview of how to register a trade name in Arizona.
How do I choose an Arizona DBA name?
When choosing a trade name in Arizona, you’ll want a name that makes an impact. Your name is the most important branding tool you have. Pick a distinctive name that is a good representation of what your company has to offer. You’ll want customers to see your name and know right away what you’re about.
Also, keep state regulations in mind when creating your trade name. First, you want to check to make sure the name you want is available. Before registering it, you can search Arizona’s state database of businesses to determine the availability of your preferred name.
In Arizona, your trade name should be distinguishable from any other entity on record. In its Trade Name and Trademark Handbook, the state includes a list of requirements for determining whether your preferred name is distinctive from other businesses.
Arizona also does not allow trade names to include corporate designators, such as “Inc.,” “LLC,” or “Ltd.” Remove those ahead of registering your trade name, or you’ll risk rejection.
Remember that you’ll also want to set up a domain name that aligns with your DBA name. Before finalizing your trade name, check to ensure a corresponding domain name is available. If you’re interested in setting up a website that aligns with your DBA name goals, ZenBusiness’s Domain Name Registration services can handle this process for you.
How do I register an Arizona DBA name?
To register your Arizona DBA name, you must file your trade name through the Secretary of State. The state requires that you complete the Trade Name Registration Application via the Online Trade Name/Trademark Program. Applications by mail are no longer accepted.
Here are the steps to take when registering your Arizona trade name:
- Choose a name that best reflects the nature of your company and determine whether it’s distinguishable from the names of other entities registered in the state. Be sure to do your research to ensure your name is truly distinct, as this could hold up your application.
- Go to the section of the Secretary of State website that includes all the forms associated with the Online Trade Name/Trademark Program. This is where you’ll find the Trade Name Registration Application.
- When applying online, you’ll be prompted to enter your desired trade name to check for availability.
- After this step, the online form requires some information, including your trade name and the date of application, entity type and name, a brief description of your business, and contact information.
- Include your filing fee. It costs $10 to file your application. For expedited service, include an additional $25. You may pay by check or money order, which should be made payable to the Secretary of State. You may use a credit card or debit card.
- Finish the application and wait for approval before ordering business cards or other materials with your DBA name printed on them. In Arizona, trade names are carefully reviewed before approval is given. If your filing is rejected, you’ll receive a detailed explanation of why. Use these details to tweak and resubmit your application.
How do I manage ongoing DBA name compliance in Arizona?
Once you register your Arizona trade name, it’s valid for five years. After five years, you’ll need to file a Trade Name Renewal form, which has a $10 filing fee. This renewal should be done within six months of your trade name’s expiration date.
To make any changes to your trade name, including the address, phone number, or legal name of the current owner, you must file a Trade Name Amendment form. This has a $3 filing fee.
To transfer ownership of your trade name to another entity, you need to fill out a Trade Name Assignment form. The filing fee for this transfer is $10. You also must have this form notarized before submitting it to the Secretary of State by mail or in person.
If you decide to terminate your trade name, you can do so by filing a Trade Name Cancellation form. While there is no fee for filing this form, it does require notarization.
Arizona DBA FAQs
How much does it cost to register an Arizona DBA name?
When applying for a DBA or trade name in Arizona, you’ll need to file a Trade Name Registration Application with the Secretary of State. There is a $10 fee to file this document. To expedite processing, include an additional $25.
Your trade name is active for five years after registering it. When you renew it, you’ll need to pay another $10 filing fee.
There are other costs associated with taking on a trade name for your brand. The cost of registration and licensing varies based on the type of business you create. Then, there are marketing costs, such as business cards and other printed materials, and the cost of creating and maintaining a website to consider.
What is the processing time to register an Arizona DBA?
Since your trade name application requires rigorous review by the state to determine that your name is distinguishable from other entities and available, the processing time takes between two and three weeks. When filing your application, you can pay an additional $25 to expedite this process, though.
Do I need a DBA name for my Arizona business?
There is no requirement that Arizona businesses adopt a DBA or trade name. However, it is an acceptable business practice if you decide your company could benefit from a trade name.
As a sole proprietor or partnership, a DBA name will create a brand separate from your personal name and establish an identity for your business. For corporations and LLCs, a trade name allows you to condense your legal name and drop the formal business designators, such as “LLC” or “Inc.” This helps to streamline your marketing efforts.
If I register a DBA name in Arizona, can another business use the same name?
While registering a trade name doesn’t grant you exclusive rights to the name in Arizona, having it on record will likely cause other entities to pass on using it. No reasonable business will want to deal with the marketing conundrum of adopting a name already in use. The best way to ensure you have exclusive rights to a business name in Arizona is by adopting it as your formal name during formation.
Can a business in Arizona have multiple DBA names?
There is no limit to the number of trade names your business adopts. It all depends on your company’s needs and what makes sense for your operations. You might want to have multiple DBA names to establish several brands under the same ownership structure.
For instance, maybe the owner of a Mexican restaurant wants to branch out and open a second eatery, except that they want to try different cuisine, perhaps Italian. They would want to operate this new restaurant under a different name, and both businesses would have different audiences and marketing needs. Registering separate trade names for each restaurant will allow them to establish their own brands while having the same owner.
Is a DBA name the same thing as a fictitious business name in Arizona?
A DBA name might also be referred to as a “fictitious name.” In Arizona, though, a DBA name is formally referred to as a “trade name.”
Do I need a DBA name in Arizona if I use my own name for a sole proprietorship?
In Arizona, a sole proprietor can use their given name to conduct business or operate under an assumed name. There is no requirement to adopt a trade name.
A sole proprietor might benefit from a trade name, though. This will separate their personal identity from their business identity and create a more professional aura around their business.
Will using a DBA name affect how my business is taxed in Arizona?
No, a DBA name doesn’t affect how your business is taxed in Arizona. When you register a trade name, you aren’t establishing a separate legal entity from the business created during your formation. Even if you have several trade names, they’ll all be taxed under your original business.
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