A DBA name allows businesses to operate under a different name other than their legal business names. Read on to find out why it’s highly recommended that you register your DBA name even though it’s optional in the state of Mississippi.
What is a Mississippi “doing business as” (DBA) name?
To put it simply, a DBA name is an alias for a business. It does not form another business entity, nor does it affect how a business is taxed. But it allows business owners to create and register an assumed name for their businesses. A DBA name also does not replace the name of the business; instead, it acts as an additional name for it.
In Mississippi, a DBA name is referred to as a “fictitious name.” Unlike other states, Mississippi does not legally require businesses to register their DBA names. So, why should you voluntarily register your DBA name? Here are some reasons outlined in the Mississippi Fictitious Business Name Registration Act:
- A DBA registration can serve as a notice to other businesses that the name is already in use. Generally, business owners want to avoid using a similar name for their business because it’s not good branding practice and can confuse customers.
- A DBA registration allows owners to open a business bank account under the DBA name. It also complies with banks’ lending guidelines. Some banks require businesses to show their DBA name registration before applying for a loan to prevent fraudulent activities.
Why would a business use a fictitious name? There are two categories of businesses that primarily use DBA names:
- Sole proprietorships and partnerships: For sole proprietorships and partnerships, the name of the business is the legal name of the owners or partners. They use DBA names to have some privacy since it can replace the use of their legal names.
- Corporations and limited liability companies (LLCs): DBA names enable corporations and LLCs to drop the entity designation, such as “Corp.” and LLC,” and establish a shorter, catchier version of their business names.
Other benefits and advantages of registering a DBA name include:
- It gives businesses the ability to choose a name that resonates with customers: Business owners use a DBA name to promote branding. For example, Harry Smith and Ryan Murphy are two friends who want to start a moving business together. If they use their legal names as their business name, customers will have a difficult time understanding what they do or offer. But if they use a DBA name and advertise as “Moving Men,” customers will know what they offer right away and if their services are needed.
- It protects the privacy of business owners: This benefits sole proprietors and partnerships specifically because, without a DBA name, their business name is their actual names. A DBA name allows them to use a different business name.
- Helps owners open a business bank account: All businesses need to achieve a separation between the owners and business for legal and tax purposes. This is easier to accomplish for formal business structures, such as corporations and LLCs, but not so much for sole proprietors and partnerships. The best way to do this is to have an account exclusively for the use of the business. A DBA name will allow sole proprietors and partnerships to open a business bank account under a business name.
- It’s an affordable and easy way to grow your business: A DBA name is an affordable and easy way for corporations and LLCs to launch new product lines with dedicated and specific branding. If a hair salon owner operating an LLC starts a hair care product line but wants a name that is more appropriate than “Wendy’s Hair Salon,” assigning a DBA name for the product line will be easier than forming a separate LLC.
How do I choose a Mississippi DBA name?
Choose a Mississippi fictitious name that represents your business and how you want your brand to be perceived. It’s also advisable to keep it simple and easy to remember. If you need to explain your name to customers, it is not serving you well.
Even though the state of Mississippi will not refuse the registration of a fictitious name similar to another already in use, it is in your best interest as a business owner to make sure your brand stands out. You don’t want to share a name with a business with a bad reputation or share a name with a business offering the same products or services. Both scenarios will not help you establish your brand and grow your business.
You should also be aware of Mississippi naming requirements, such as:
- Your DBA name should not include any business entity designation or a suffix, such as “LLC,” “Corporation,” “Ltd,” “Professional Corporation,” etc., unless your business is an LLC, a corporation, partnership, etc.
- Your DBA name should not contain any terms given to financial institutions, such as “Bank,” “Savings,” “Business Trust,” “Credit Union,” or other similar words.
- Your DBA name should not contain words not permitted to be used in any business name without governmental consent unless you can provide written evidence of the consent.
The Secretary of State may allow registration of a DBA name that includes a prohibited term if, in the Secretary of State’s sole discretion, the term is not misleading.
Before you register your preferred DBA name, search Mississippi’s online business database to check if it’s already in use. The state does not offer exclusive rights to own or use a DBA name. Also, a fictitious name registration does not override trademarks, service marks, or other name rights previously acquired by other business owners with the same name.
So, having learned all that, if you want exclusive rights to your name, your next stop should be the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Use the database to confirm that no other company has trademarked the name you want to use.
How do I register a Mississippi DBA name?
The state of Mississippi requires all business documents to be filed through its online filing system. Below is a breakdown of the steps you will encounter online.
- You will need to set up an account on Mississippi’s online portal. Click on “Register” and fill in your information. You will need an email address to receive correspondence regarding your filings. It will also be used as your username on your account. Once your account is created, you will receive a temporary password that you can reset.
- To file business documents, log in with your username and password. On the “Business Filings” page, select “Register a Fictitious Business Name.” The system will take you to the document page. Fill out the required fields marked with asterisks.
- You’ll need the following information: the DBA name to be registered, the name(s) and address(es) of the owner(s), every location where your business will be operating, your NAICS code, and your Mississippi business identification number (for corporations and LLCs). A NAICS code is a six-digit number that describes business types. You can easily request this code on the document while filling it out. Choose the code that most closely matches your business activity. The NAICS code lets the public and other businesses know what products or services you offer. The system will also check the information as you input it. If there are errors, it will mark them for you to correct.
- After filling out the form and making sure everything is correct, you can pay the filing fee of $25 and submit electronically. All major credit cards are accepted for payments. You can also pay through eChecks or an ACH account. If you are not ready to file your document, the system will save it, and you can finish at a later date.
- After your payment is processed, you will receive a confirmation email. If your application can be auto-approved, the email you’ll receive will contain a link to the filed document with a copy of the payment invoice. If your application needs to be reviewed by the office of the Secretary of State, you will receive an email when a decision is made.
You can find more tutorials on how to navigate the online filing system here.
How do I manage ongoing DBA name compliance in Mississippi?
The state of Mississippi does not have publication requirements for DBA name registration, which means you can start using your fictitious name as soon as you receive approval. But to be able to continue using your DBA name, you still need to adhere to requirements, such as:
- Renewal of a Fictitious Name Registration: Your DBA name expires on the 31st of December on the fifth anniversary of the registration. If you want to continue using the DBA name for your business, you can renew your registration beginning from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 of the expiration year. The renewal fee is $25, and you can easily file online.
- Fictitious Business Name Amendment: You are required to file an amendment within 30 days of any changes in your business that could impact your DBA name registration. The filing fee for each amendment is $25. You can submit an amendment by logging into your Mississippi business account. The form you’ll need to fill out will be under “File an Amendment on an Existing Business.”
- Withdrawal of Fictitious Business Name: You can withdraw your DBA name registration at any time for a filing fee of $25.