The rules for obtaining and using a DBA name vary from state to state. If you plan on using one, you should be familiar with Arkansas’s particular regulations. Understanding your obligations when it comes to DBA names can keep your business out of hot water.
The following is a step-by-step guide on how you can get a DBA name for your Arkansas business. After defining what a DBA name is, we’ll identify why you might want one, how to get one, how to maintain one, and everything you need to know about using a DBA name in Arkansas.
What is an Arkansas “doing business as” (DBA) name?
A DBA name is a business title that a company can operate under instead of its legal business name.
Some states call DBA names by a different moniker. DBA names in Arkansas are referred to as “fictitious names.” The terms “DBA name,” “trade name,” and “fictitious name” all refer to the same thing.
For the most part, there are two types of businesses that will often use DBA names:
- Sole proprietorships and partnerships: These types of companies have no legal separation from their owners. They seek DBA names to look more professional or attract consumers. If these companies do not use DBA names, they have to operate under the owners’ names. An example would be a single-person-owned flower shop choosing to go by a memorable name like “The Flower Pot” rather than the owner’s personal name.
- Corporations and limited liability companies (LLCs): These businesses are considered legally separate from their owners. These companies can use DBA names as marketing tactics. A company might use a DBA name to appeal to an audience. For example, a company registered under the name “Bedding and Sleep Accessories, Incorporated” might open up a store called “Best Bedding.” A corporation or LLC might also use a DBA name to sell a new line of products. For example, a clothing store for adults might open up a line of clothes for children with a new name.
Even though a DBA name gives your business the ability to operate under a different title, it doesn’t count as starting a new business and won’t alter your company’s tax structure.
The regulations for DBA names in Arkansas differ from those in many other states in that they require domestic corporations to register with the county clerk they’re operating in and with the Arkansas Secretary of State. One exception is Pulaski County, which only requires state registration. Sole proprietorships must register DBA names at the county level. All other business entities must register with the Arkansas Secretary of State and then, once approved, a copy of the form will be sent back that needs to then be filed with the county clerk’s office where your business’s registered office is located.
To be clear, businesses don’t have to have DBA names unless they’re doing business under a name different from their legal name. However, the use of a DBA name could benefit your company. Some ways a fictitious name can help your business include:
- It allows you the freedom to advertise under a new name and reach a new audience.
- You need a DBA name to get a business account under any name that differs from your registered business name.
- Registering a DBA name in Arkansas does not give you the exclusive right to use your fictitious name, but registering it can sometimes prevent or discourage others from using that name.
This guide will outline how you can obtain and maintain a DBA name in Arkansas. All of the important information has been split into easy-to-digest sections to give you a clear view of how the process works.
How do I choose an Arkansas DBA name?
Businesses use DBA names for a variety of reasons. When choosing a DBA name, you should consider who your audience is and how you plan to market to them. In Arkansas, it’s illegal for a company to advertise under a name (fictitious or otherwise) unless it’s been registered with the Secretary of State. Fines for noncompliance can be as much as $100 per day, so it’s important that you comply.
Your DBA name can’t advertise any services that are illegal or you don’t offer. Don’t include any type of crime in your fictitious name, and if you don’t offer medical or legal services, don’t include the word “Doctor” or “Lawyer” in your DBA name.
Your DBA name must also be unique. Whereas some states allow multiple businesses to possess the same one, Arkansas has regulations that don’t allow fictitious names to be duplicated. Another advantage of having a unique name is that it will stand out from your competition.
To make sure no other business is currently using your DBA name, you’ll need to visit the Arkansas Secretary of State website and use the business lookup tool to conduct a name search.
Remember that when you register a DBA name, you are not copyrighting it. In fact, if your DBA name violates a trademark of another company, you can face legal action. Do a quick search on the Arkansas Trademark and Service Mark Database to see if there are any state trademarks on your desired DBA name. To check for federal trademarks, use the search engine at the US Patent and Trademark Office.
How do I register an Arkansas DBA name?
Registering a DBA name in Arkansas can be more complex than registering in other states because Arkansas law requires domestic corporations to register them with the County Clerk’s Office where their registered office is and also the state. The only exception is Pulaski County, which just requires state registration. Meanwhile, sole proprietorships must register a DBA name at the county level, while other business entities register with the Arkansas Secretary of State and (after approval) file a copy of that form with the county clerk’s office where the business’s registered office is located.
In Arkansas, the Business and Commercial Services Division of the Arkansas Secretary of State supervises DBA name filings. You can register your DBA name by mail or online. Here are instructions on how to do both:
- Visit the Forms Fees/Records Requests page on the Arkansas Secretary of State website. Click on the link for your business entity type. Scroll down until you see the fictitious name application for your business type.
- Complete and print the form. Note to check whether or not the form requires a signature from a notary public.
- There will be a filing fee that varies from $15 to $25 for different types of businesses.
- Put everything in one envelope and mail it to the following address:
Arkansas State Secretary of State
Business Services Division
1401 West Capitol Avenue, Suite 250
Little Rock, AR 72201
- Visit the Secretary of State website and navigate to the fictitious name form for your business type.
- Fill out all of the pertinent information requested in the document. You’ll need your business filing number (EIN) to access the application.
- There will be a fee for filing, which will vary from $13.50 to $22.50 for different business types.
Remember that in Arkansas, you’ll also have to register or file your DBA name with the county where your registered office is located. You can find instructions and resources for your particular county here. It can take from one to four weeks for your DBA name to be processed.
To keep business dealings transparent to the public, many states require DBA names to be announced on a public forum like the newspaper. In Arkansas, you are not required to announce a fictitious name publicly.
How do I manage ongoing DBA name compliance in Arkansas?
Unlike many other states, a fictitious name in Arkansas does not expire. This makes the process of maintaining one fairly simple.
However, if you want to alter your DBA name, you will have to complete an entirely new registration, which can be frustrating. Not only will you have to refile with the Secretary of State, but you’ll also have to refile with your county clerk.
If, for any reason, you decide to transfer the ownership of your DBA name, you’ll need to file a Notice of Transfer of Fictitious Name form with the Secretary of State. This form has to be accompanied by the applicable Application for Fictitious Name. Mail these forms to:
Arkansas State Secretary of State
Business Services Division
1401 W. Capitol Avenue, Suite 250
Little Rock, AR 72201
If you have a sole proprietorship and wish to transfer your fictitious name, contact your county clerk’s office to find out their process.
If you decide to cancel your fictitious name for any reason, you’ll have to fill out a Cancellation of Fictitious Name form and send that to the Secretary of State. This process will include an equal fee to the one you paid to register your DBA name initially. Again, sole proprietorships will need to contact the county clerk for information on how to cancel a fictitious name.
More Arkansas DBA FAQs
How much does it cost to register an Arkansas DBA name?
The cost of registering your DBA name, or fictitious name as it’s known in Arkansas, can range from .50 for online filing for a sole proprietorship or partnership to for mail-in filing for an LLC or corporation.
What is the processing time to register an Arkansas DBA?
Typically, online registration is faster than mail-in registration because of shipping time. The entire processing time usually runs from one to four weeks.
Do I need a DBA name for my Arkansas business?
Legally, you only need a DBA name in Arkansas if you wish to go by a different name than the legal title of your business. In particular, a DBA name can come in handy if your business is a sole proprietorship or a partnership in that you won’t have to do business under your own name.
A DBA name can also benefit an LLC or corporation in that it can allow them to advertise to different markets or drop the business identifier (“LLC” or “Corporation”) from their business name.
If I register a DBA name in Arkansas, can another business use the same name?
While DBA names are exclusive in most states, they are not in Arkansas. However, you are encouraged to research the names and marks of other parties in the state to ensure you aren’t infringing on any registered trademarks.
Can a business in Arkansas have multiple DBA names?
As long as you register each DBA name with the appropriate offices, you can have as many as you want. For example, a furniture company may want to create distinct brands for different products it offers.
To do this, they might attain a DBA name for a store that only sells their sofas and a DBA name for a store that only sells bedding. DBA names allow businesses to target certain demographics more effectively.
Do I need a DBA name in Arkansas if I use my own name for a sole proprietorship?
Legally, you only need a DBA name if you’ll be doing business under something other than your personal name, but a fictitious name can make a sole proprietorship seem more professional and may even attract a more serious customer.
Will using a DBA name affect how my business is taxed in Arkansas?
DBA names are not the same as starting a new business and will not change how you are taxed.