There are many reasons you might want a DBA name for your Iowa business. In some cases, businesses seek DBA names so that they may distinguish different portions of their business or operate under a shortened form of their registered business name.
To remain compliant with state laws, you are required to register any trade or fictitious names with the state of Iowa (for business entities) or with the local county (for sole proprietorships or partnerships). This guide covers what you need to know about choosing a trade or fictitious name, associated state laws, and how we can help you complete and renew your trade or fictitious name as needed.
Different states refer to DBA names differently. Some call them DBA names, while others call them “assumed names” and so on. In Iowa, a DBA name for an established business entity, such as a limited liability company (LLC) or corporation, is called a “fictitious name,” but one for a sole proprietorship or partnership is referred to as a “trade name” on the associated forms.
Regardless of how it is referred to, a DBA name is simply an alternative name for your business. Any time you wish to do business under a different name — whether different from your registered business name or from your personal name in the case of a sole proprietorship — you must register it to remain in compliance and avoid legal consequences.
There are primarily two categories that businesses seeking DBA names fall into:
Note that registering a DBA name is not the same as registering a business. When you register a business, you file the Articles of Organization or Incorporation or a similar document with the state and, at that time, designate an official business name, which includes a designator. All of the laws that pertain to your business are determined by this registration and not your DBA name.
A DBA name is not a business type. It does not establish your business or change your business’s tax structure in any way. It does not establish copyright or trademark. It also does not offer you any legal protection from liability. In fact, in Iowa, registering a DBA name doesn’t even prevent anyone else from using the same name. However, there are several benefits that come with using a DBA name, such as:
The sections below break down the relevant information needed to help you choose and register a DBA name in Iowa.
Before you can register your DBA name in Iowa, you need to decide what that name will be. Anyone who has ever named a child or pet knows that this is a process that can take some time and careful consideration. When it comes to business names, not only do you want to pick a name that feels and sounds right, but you also need to make sure you adhere to any naming laws.
Among some of the most important factors to consider as you choose your Iowa DBA name are:
It’s important to note that registering a DBA name does not give you the exclusive rights to that name. Even if you made efforts to choose a DBA name different from any currently registered, it’s possible that another business could come along and use the same name as yours. If you would like additional protection of your business name, you should look into trademark and copyright laws.
How you register your DBA name in Iowa depends on whether you are a registered business entity with the state or if you are a sole proprietor or partnership.
If you are registering a DBA name (trade name) for a sole proprietorship or partnership, this is handled by your county recorder’s office. Contact your local county for more information as to how to proceed.
If you are an existing business registered with the state (such as an LLC or a corporation), you will need to file a Fictitious Name Resolution with the Secretary of State. This can be done online or via mail.
Secretary of State
Business Services Division
Lucas Building, 1st Floor
Des Moines, Iowa 50319
Keeping on top of state laws and regulations to maintain compliance is important for any business. In Iowa, failing to register your DBA name before using it is considered a simple misdemeanor and can carry a fine. In fact, each day that you are not in compliance is considered a separate offense.
The good news is that registering your DBA name in Iowa is fairly straightforward and inexpensive. Also, once the initial registration is complete, it remains in effect in perpetuity with no requirement for renewal.
If you need to correct or update any information in your filing, you simply need to file the same form again with the updated information and pay the associated $5 fee. There is no need to cancel a DBA name once it has been registered.
ZenBusiness’s DBA Name Registration and Compliance services can help you find and utilize the perfect name for your business purposes.
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.
Iowa Business Resources
Fees are subject to change over time. Check the Secretary of State’s website for the most current fee schedule regarding DBA registration and renewal.
Costs may also vary at the county level for those needing to file for a sole proprietorship or partnership but tend to be minimal.
Processing times can vary depending on whether you file at the state or county level and whether you file online or by mail. In general, filing online will always be faster than filing by mail.
DBA names are not strictly required but can be extremely useful. If you are a sole proprietor or partnership, you cannot legally conduct business under a name other than your personal name(s) without a DBA name. Filing a DBA name lets you name your business separate from yourself.
For LLCs, corporations, and other business types, DBA names allow you to operate portions of your business under different names or to drop your designator or shorten your business’s legal name in a way that makes it catchier or more memorable.
As a general rule, DBA names are not exclusive. This means another business may use the same name if they so choose. If you would like to keep your business name unique and prevent others from using it, you should seek trademark or copyright protection.
There is no limit to the number of DBA names that a business may file. Some businesses just want a single alternative name, while others might find it useful to have dozens of names to separate different portions of their business.
For example, if your business is a statewide Alzheimer’s association, you may want to brand the branches of it by region, such as “The Alzheimer’s Association of Springfield,” and so on.
Yes, a DBA name is just another word for a fictitious name when it comes to Iowa businesses. However, it’s important to note that Iowa makes a distinction between “trade name” as a DBA name for a sole proprietorship or partnership and usually reserves a “fictitious name” for registered business types.
If you plan on doing business only under your exact, legal, personal name, you do not need a DBA name as a sole proprietor. However, if you want to conduct business under any variation of your legal name or another name, or want to add any words to your name in your business title, you will need to register a DBA name with your local county.
A DBA name has no effect on how your business is taxed at the state, local, or federal level. It is simply just an alternative name for your business. All of the laws regarding the taxing and other legalities of your business will be associated with your business type. A DBA name is not a business type, but simply a label. As an analogy, consider that changing a person’s name does not change the laws that apply to them. The same is true of DBA names and businesses.
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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