To remain compliant with state laws, Idaho requires that you register any assumed business names with the state. This can be done online or through the mail, as described later in this guide.
The goal of this guide is to help you learn everything there is to know about choosing a DBA name, associated state laws and statutes, and how to complete and renew your name as needed.
What is an Idaho “doing business as” (DBA) name?
In Idaho, a DBA name is a name which a business may operate under but differs from a business’s full legally registered name. There are many reasons a business might want a DBA name, including being able to shorten their name or leave off designators, such as “LLC,” or to distinguish different parts of their business by operating them under different associated names.
The descriptor “DBA” goes by different names in different states. Some states might call it a “fictitious name” or a “trade name,” for example. In Idaho, it tends to be referred to as an “assumed business name.”
There are two major categories of businesses that might seek a DBA name:
- Sole proprietorships or partnerships are not required to register with the state and file associated business documents (which would include an official business name), unlike LLCs, corporations, and other business types. So, if a sole proprietorship or partnership wishes to name their business something other than the owner’s legal name, they must file a Certificate of Assumed Business Name with the state.
- Corporations and limited liability companies (LLCs) sometimes use DBA names to create catchier versions of their formal names by using abbreviations or dropping designators. They may also choose to create DBA names for different product lines or portions of their business to distinguish those parts of the business from each other.
It’s important to note that a DBA name does not change the tax status of your business, does not establish copyright or trademark, and is not a way of registering a business with the state. They are simply an alternative name for your business.
In Idaho, you are legally required to register any assumed name with the Secretary of State before use to remain compliant. But the benefits of a DBA name extend beyond simple compliance and include:
- Being able to open a bank account under your assumed business name
- Being able to choose a name that will resonate with customers and better market your business
- Avoiding potential legal complications down the road resulting from the confusion of the business name. (For example, if your business is an LLC, but you conduct business under an unregistered assumed name, this may void any limited liability.)
How do I choose an Idaho DBA name?
Naming any business can be challenging. There are a multitude of factors to consider, ranging from aesthetics and marketing to legal considerations and compliance. To break it down for you, here are some of the most important factors to consider as you choose your Idaho assumed business name:
- A good name should be memorable. You want it to stick in the minds of potential clients so that they’ll head your way when the time comes.
- A good business name should also give a snapshot of the type and nature of your business. Consider spending some time brainstorming to narrow down your options.
- It’s also a good idea to see if the name you want is already in use. While Idaho law does not require you to have a unique DBA name, it’s often a good idea to avoid confusion with other local businesses. You can search existing business names on the Secretary of State’s website.
- To comply with Idaho naming laws, your assumed business name cannot include a designator. A designator is a word or abbreviation indicating what kind of business entity it is, for example, “LLC,” “Corporation,” or “Inc.”
Note that just because you register an assumed business name with the state, this does not mean it is protected or that another business cannot also use it. If you would like additional protection of your business name, you should look into trademark and copyright laws.
You may also want to search business names in nearby states if you are concerned about keeping your business name unique.
How do I register an Idaho DBA name?
The process for registering a DBA name, or assumed business name, in Idaho is handled through the Secretary of State’s office. A form may be completed online or via paper and mailed in with the associated filing fee.
The information you will need to fill out during the filing process include the chosen assumed business name, the names and addresses of all individuals or businesses doing business under this name, the type of business being transacted, and the contact information of the individual filing the form.
- Go to the Idaho Secretary of State’s website, navigate to the Business section, and find the Forms page.
- Under “Business Names and Other,” find the link to the form titled “Certificate of Assumed Business Name (ABN)” and click it.
- You will see a notice that “If a new entity is filed online, it cannot be listed as a user/owner of an ABN until after the record is approved by our office.” This simply means that if you have registered your business online, but it has not yet been processed, you cannot file this form until after that happens.
- Click the option to “File Online.”
- You will be directed to create a SOSBiz account if you do not have one already or to log in using your existing credentials.
- You can proceed to fill out the form.
- You will be directed to pay the filing fee of $25 through the secure payment system by using a credit or debit card or using an Access Idaho account.
- Paper forms can be found on the Secretary of State’s File Paper Forms website.
- Find the form for Assumed Business Name (ABN).
- Note that you are required to type your entries in the form and cannot handwrite them.
- Fill out the required information and print the form.
- Make sure the form is signed by all persons included on the certificate or by an agent acting on your behalf.
- Include the filing fee of $45 ($25 filing + $20 for nonelectronic form use) in the form of a check made payable to the Idaho Secretary of State.
- Mail the completed form and payment to:
Office of the Secretary of State
P.O. Box 83720
Boise, ID 83720-0080
How do I manage ongoing DBA name compliance in Idaho?
It’s important to stay on top of state laws and filings and make sure your business is always compliant. In Idaho, if you transact business using an unregistered DBA name, you will be unable to engage in any legal actions associated with your business until this is corrected. Additionally, you may be liable for claims against your business associated with having false, misleading, or incomplete information registered with the state.
The nice thing about the state of Idaho is that once you file your DBA name, you are not required to renew it. It remains in effect until you indicate otherwise.
If you need to correct or update any information in your filing, you can do so online or by mail using the Cancellation or Amendment of Certificate of Assumed Business Name form. This form can be used if you want to amend the assumed name, update the names and addresses of businesses or individuals doing business under the name, update your business type, or cancel your assumed name.
The online form only requires a $10 fee for changes other than the change of mailing address and charges no fee for cancellation. All forms submitted by mail incur an additional $20 nonelectronic form fee.
Idaho DBA FAQs
- How much does it cost to register an Idaho DBA name?
Registering a DBA name in Idaho requires payment of $25 if done online or $45 if done via mail. (All mailed-in forms incur an additional $20 manual processing charge.) While there are no renewal requirements, if you need to update your DBA name form, it costs $10 online and $30 by mail, unless you are only canceling your DBA name or changing your mailing address — in which case, the only fee incurred would be $20 if completed by mail.
Note that you can opt to pay more for faster filing services. Expedited service is an additional $40 for all forms, and same-day service is an additional $100.
- What is the processing time to register an Idaho DBA?
Processing times can vary depending on how you submit your paperwork. If completed online, you can expect a much faster turnaround than if completed by mail, though paying extra for expedited service can help.
- Do I need a DBA name for my Idaho business?
DBA names are not required unless you are operating under a name different from your legal business name. With the exception of partnerships or sole proprietorships, when you register your business with the state, you will indicate a chosen name at that time. However, business names are often required to include type-designators, such as “LLC” for limited liability companies or “Corp.” for corporations. These designators are a legal part of your official business name. If you want to do business under a shorter version of your official name with the designator dropped or a different name all together, you are required to file a DBA name for the modified version of the name.
If you’re a sole proprietorship or partnership and want to do business under a name other than your personal name, you’ll need to file a DBA name.
- If I register a DBA name in Idaho, can another business use the same name?
Yes. Registering a DBA name does not secure it or make it your own. Any business may also register and use the same DBA name. If you would like protection of the name you wish to use, you will need to look into trademark protection.
- Can a business in Idaho have multiple DBA names?
Yes, businesses can typically utilize multiple DBA names to differentiate distinct areas of their operations. For example, suppose the owner of a sandwich shop decides to branch out to catering. If they want to brand their catering under a different name than the sandwich shop, a different DBA name will be needed for each part of the business.
- Is a DBA name the same thing as a fictitious business name in Idaho?
In Idaho, a DBA name is the same thing as a fictitious name; however, the official wording used in Idaho law to describe DBA names is “assumed business name.”
- Do I need a DBA name in Idaho if I use my own name for a sole proprietorship?
If you have a sole proprietorship, you are free to conduct business under your own legal name. However, if you want to utilize a name other than the one on your Social Security card, you will need to register it as a DBA name to remain in compliance.
- Will using a DBA name affect how my business is taxed in Idaho?
A DBA name does not establish a business type or entity. It is simply a name that a business plans to use. As such, it has no effect on how your business is taxed at the state, local, or federal level. That is, instead, determined by your registered business type and associated laws.