If you own a business in Indiana and would like to use a different name than its legal business name, you will need to register it with the state. A DBA name, also called an assumed name, fictitious business name, or trade name is typically used when you want to use multiple names for one business, or if you are a sole proprietor wanting to be recognized as something other than your legal name.
There are many reasons you might want a DBA name for your Indiana business. Typically, DBA names are used to distinguish different portions of a business or allow them to operate under a shortened form of their registered business name. Read on to learn the ins and outs of obtaining, maintaining, and renewing a DBA name in Indiana, and how we can help make the process easy.
Indiana uses the term “assumed business name” to refer to the use of an alias. Indiana requires the official filing of DBA names for businesses, as do most states. The reason behind the official filing requirement is that the public has a right to know the name of the entity they are dealing with.
Whether the entity using the DBA name is a sole proprietor, C corporation, or any other formal business structure, the DBA name does not influence the payment of taxes. It is not a business structure; it is a business identity.
Two primary business structures that commonly make use of DBA names are:
Indiana business owners have a diversity of motivations for electing to use an assumed business name. Coming up with a suitable DBA name and initiation of filing can be quite a chore, however.
Our guide contains comprehensive details for entrepreneurs to realize their dreams of trading under a name that fully expresses their business aspirations. Industry tips on how to select the ideal business name for commerce in Indiana, registration of the new alias, and ongoing compliance advice follow.
Best business practices recommend that names are short, memorable, easy to search online, and reflect the nature of the business. Good business names are also uncomplicated and easy to spell.
Generally, DBA names are not exclusive but can be used in a variety of forms across Indiana. Any name you select can be altered to embody your business’s character. For example, an existing name might be “Lord’s Photographer, LLC.” If your surname is “Lord,” and you specialize in photography, you could conduct a search for “Lord’s Portrait Photography.”
Aim at picking a name that is distinctive and makes your business stand out among the competition. Note that even if you choose a name today, someone in another city in Indiana might duplicate your name tomorrow.
Conduct an online search to see whether your desired business name is available before following the filing process below.
DBA filing in Indiana state differs for sole proprietors and partnerships compared to legally registered companies, as noted earlier.
You do not need to file any newspaper notices to the effect that you are trading under an assumed business name once your DBA name has been registered. Indiana also doesn’t require you to renew your DBA name once approved. However, businesses may find that they need to make changes to the Certificate of Assumed Business Name.
Changes can be made by completing the same form that was used for registration of your DBA name. Also, the same process will need to be followed up with the County Recorder’s office, where the name was first registered. Amendment costs will vary by county but range between $10 and $35. Withdrawal of the DBA name can be made by completing the Cancellation of Assumed Business Name, for which there is no charge.
While these steps may appear simple in theory, they can be time-consuming in practice. We help prospective DBA name applicants with the registration process of your new DBA.
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.
Indiana Business Resources
Name filing for sole proprietorships and partnerships differs from corporation filings in Indiana. Sole proprietors and partnerships must file their DBA name applications at the County Recorder’s office. Check where you should register your Certificate of Assumed Business Name by looking for the appropriate County Recorder’s office.
Applicants can expect to wait for DBA name approval for up to 10 days when filed at the County Recorder’s office. When notification of name approval has not been received within this time frame, you should follow up via telephone or mail for a status update.
Corporations registered on INBiz should be able to access status updates online, for which processing times are much shorter. Typically, when all the required documentation has been provided, the waiting period should not extend beyond one to two working days.
Legally, you do not need a DBA name in Indiana. However, it may be easier to drop the identifier from the business name if you own an LLC or another registered business structure.
Sole proprietors are also able to leverage multiple benefits by using a DBA name. An assumed business name allows promotional opportunities aimed at expansion. Banking is easier, and privacy is maintained because the owners don’t have to use their personal names.
Note that you can run into legal obstacles if you are doing business under a name that has not been officially filed. Indiana takes a strict approach to misleading the public if business owners are not upfront about their business identity.
Indiana DBA names are not exclusive. However, while a level of duplication is possible, this is discouraged. Where the name “MacIntosh Plumbing” exists, this can be altered to reflect “MacIntosh Plumbers,” for example. On the other hand, federal trademarks are exclusive.
Business owners can consult the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to determine the availability of guaranteed name exclusivity.
Indiana allows businesses to file as many DBA names as aligns with their requirements. For example, a small catering company may want to grow from specializing in events to delivering snacks to offices throughout its business area. If the original name is “Events Catering,” this name does not match their concept for providing snacks to hungry office workers.
An assumed business name like “Snack Time” might be more appropriate. If the same company is even more ambitious, it can begin preparing frozen dinners and call this line of business “Big Momma’s Frozen Dinners.” The use of DBA names for expansion is only limited by your resources.
Essentially, a DBA name identifies a business under a separate name to the legal name or entity of the owners. A DBA name and a “fictitious name” are practically synonymous along with others like “assumed name” and “trade name,” but Indiana prefers to use the term “assumed business name.”
Sole proprietors are not compelled to use an assumed business name. However, one issue is that if your business name is the same as your personal name, you are not legally allowed to trade under a different name.
The exception to this regulation is that you file for a DBA name. Only if you register a DBA name will you be able to operate under a name that is separate from your legally registered birth name. Further, by avoiding the use of a DBA name, you forego many of the business opportunities inherent in its use.
A DBA name in Indiana or anywhere across the country does not affect how you are taxed. The DBA name provides an alternative identity for a startup or an existing business. Filing for a new name is simply a convenient strategy to enhance your business persona.
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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