If you’re an entrepreneur in Georgia, you may not wish to use your business’s full legal name for all of your company’s activities. If so, a “doing business as” (DBA) name could be a helpful branding tool, allowing you to conduct your small business under a different title. Follow the steps below if you’re interested in creating a DBA name for your Georgia business.
Before your business, regardless of its entity type (sole proprietorship, LLC, corporation, etc.), does business under any name other than its legal name, it’s required by Georgia law to file an application for trade name registration in the county where the business is located. You’ll need to do the same for every county where you intend to do business.
Although we don’t currently support Georgia trade name registration, this guide will take you through the steps and considerations to get one. We will explain how to choose a name, the process to register your DBA name, and how to renew one to keep state compliant.
When you are ready to register your DBA name, there are specific steps you need to follow to comply with Georgia law:
Once you have filed and obtained your official DBA name and done the required advertising, you are ready to do business. However, it’s possible you may need to renew your Georgia DBA name, but when and if you need to renew will vary by county. Make sure to read up on the specific requirements in your county. If you can’t find them, the Superior Court will be able to answer your questions.
If you need to change your DBA name, you will need to fill out a name change form. Here again, each county will have a slightly different process and filing fee associated with the form. Once you have completed your registration, here are a few tips to make the name change even less of a headache:
A “doing business as” (DBA) name simply refers to the name the business operates under that is different from its legal name. It is also often called a “trade name” or “fictitious name.” In Georgia, a DBA name is referred to as a “trade name.”
However, a DBA name is not its own legal entity and will not afford you the same protections as an LLC or corporation. It will not make an impact on your taxes, which will be done through the legal entity you registered as or your personal taxes, depending on your structure. It is only a legal alias for your business.
DBA names provide several benefits to companies that utilize them. These include:
Keep reading through this guide to learn more about how to set up and maintain your Georgia DBA name. We’ll dive into the details on how to choose a name and how to maintain compliance. We’ll also answer some common questions around setting up a DBA name.
Choosing a DBA name for your business is an exciting step, but there’s a lot to consider before settling on your final choice. The right name can aid in your business success; however, the wrong name can create extra work and even legal issues.
First, think about the logistics of your name. You don’t want anything that will be hard to spell since that will make it more difficult for customers to find you or share information about you. Your business will grow, and you want a name that can grow with you. At the same time, a name that helps customers identify what your business does will help you get started.
Second, make sure to spend some time researching your top choices. As you research, you might find someone else already using that name. That may or may not mean you need a new name, but you need to know what is already out there.
While you are researching names, make sure to conduct a name search on the Georgia Secretary of State’s Corporations Division database. Several businesses can operate under similar names. However, that can create confusion — especially if those other businesses are your competition.
While the state of Georgia does not require your DBA name to be unique, it does have certain naming requirements you must adhere to:
It’s best to try and find a name no one is using. When using the portal, try to use as few words as possible; that way, you will get the most results showing similar names.
While you are checking names, you may also want to do a trademark search using the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) website to make sure your desired DBA name isn’t trademarked by someone on the federal level. To see if it’s trademarked at the state level, check the George trademark database.
We Can Help!
While we don’t currently support DBA registration in Georgia, 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 in another state 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.
Georgia Business Resources
Filing your DBA registration application will include a filing fee. You should also expect filing fees with any changes you make to your DBA name, such as a renewal, name change, or closing your business. However, because each county Superior Court handles its own application process, the filing fees will vary by county. You will need to locate the appropriate court in your county and ask for all of the fees associated with filing a DBA name.
In addition to the filing fees, be prepared for the costs of advertising. Georgia does require that DBA name registrations advertise once a week for two weeks in the paper that the county sheriff uses to advertise.
Processing time will vary by county. The general rule of thumb is to file at least 30 days before you intend to do business. Depending on the options available in your county, if you can file online, the processing time is typically faster than filing with a paper application.
DBA names are only required in Georgia when you’re doing business under a name that differs from your business’s legal name. However, there are many advantages to using one, including creating a stronger brand, being able to distinguish between lines of business, and having multiple operations under one legal entity structure.
If you decide to do business under another name than your legal business entity, you will be required to register a DBA name. For example, if you have chosen an LLC structure for your business, and you want to drop the “LLC” from your business name, you would need to use a DBA name to maintain compliance with state law regarding LLCs.
DBA names are not exclusive. Another business could, therefore, come in with the same or a similar name. If you want to protect your business’s brand, the most effective way to do that would be to obtain a trademark because a DBA name will not override the trademark.
See the Georgia Secretary of State page for state trademarks to see about applying for a trademark that applies within the state of Georgia. For federal trademarks, see the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Yes, Georgia does allow for a business to obtain multiple DBA names. You will need to file a separate application for each DBA name you wish to use, and you will need to file it in every Georgia county where you intend to do business under the DBA name. A business will typically use this option to differentiate between lines of business.
Yes, the terms “DBA name,” “fictitious name,” and “trade name” are all used interchangeably. However, the official term by Georgia statute is “trade name.”
No, a sole proprietorship conducting business under the owner’s legal name is not required to register a DBA name. However, Georgia law prohibits you from using any other name unless you obtain a DBA name. If you do not obtain the DBA name registration, there are penalties and fees that can be assessed.
Using a DBA name will not affect your business taxes. Registering a DBA name will not establish a new business entity. Your business will continue to be taxed according to the legal entity you use (for example, an LLC, corporation, or sole proprietorship) at the local, state, and federal levels.
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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