Arkansas law requires that no one shall conduct or transact business under a name other than the legal name of the entity unless they file a certificate registering that name, usually referred to as a “doing business as” or DBA name. The rules for obtaining and using a DBA name vary from state to state, and Arkansas’s process is unique.
Although we don’t currently support DBA registration in Arkansas, the following is a step-by-step guide on how the DBA registration process works in the Natural State. After defining what a DBA name is, we’ll identify why you might want one, how to get one, how to maintain or renew one, and what you need to know about using your fictitious name within the state.
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:
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:
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.
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.
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:
Arkansas State Secretary of State
Business Services Division
1401 West Capitol Avenue, Suite 250
Little Rock, AR 72201
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.
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.
While we don’t currently support DBA registration in Arkansas, we can help you create one in states we do support, including: Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas and Utah. We can make creating a DBA name for your business simple.
The content on this page is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal, tax, or accounting advice. If you have specific questions about any of these topics, seek the counsel of a licensed professional.
Arkansas Business Resources
The cost of registering your DBA name, or fictitious name as it’s known in Arkansas, varies based on what type of business you have, where it is, and what filing method you choose. You can visit the Secretary of State or appropriate county clerk websites for current filing fees.
Typically, online registration is faster than mail-in registration because of shipping time. The entire processing time usually runs from one to four weeks.
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.
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.
As long as you register each DBA name with the appropriate offices, you can have as many as you want.
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.
DBA names are not the same as starting a new business and will not change how you are taxed.
Most Popular States to Get a DBA Name
When it comes to compliance, costs, and other factors, these are popular states for filing a DBA.
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