A DBA name is not a business structure. It does not affect how your business will be taxed. It only allows you to operate under another name that’s different from your business’s legal name. If you’re a sole proprietor, it will also allow you to open a business bank account and transact in another name that’s not your own.
Missouri requires that “anyone doing business under a name other than their true name to file a fictitious name registration with the Secretary of State’s office.” Read on to learn more about DBA names and how your business can benefit from having one.
What is a Missouri “doing business as” (DBA) name?
A DBA name, or a “fictitious name” as it’s called in the state of Missouri, authorizes businesses to operate with a different name under a single legal entity. This is because a DBA name does not create a business structure. So, a sole proprietor can continue being a sole proprietor but will also have the ability to use a business name, while an LLC owner can have three product lines under three separate DBA names.
There are two categories of businesses that tend to use DBA names:
- Sole proprietorships and partnerships: Sole proprietorships and partnerships conduct business under their own legal names. And although that could work for some businesses, it might not be representative of a hair salon, for example. If the hair salon is named “Kendra Smith,” the business will have a difficult time attracting customers because it doesn’t give any indication of what the business offers. However, if the owner registers “Kendra’s Hair Creations” as a DBA name, the name wouldn’t need much of an explanation. It’s easily understood and better for branding.
- LLCs and corporations: LLCs and corporations utilize DBA names to launch new product lines, drop the entity designation, such as “LLC” and “Corporation,” or use a shorter version of their name for advertising.
Here are some benefits that all business structures can take advantage of by using a DBA name:
- Affordability: Getting a DBA name will keep the cost of starting your own business down if you’re a sole proprietor. It allows you to operate under a business name without a formal business structure. If you’re an owner of an LLC or a corporation, it will also be less expensive to register a DBA name than form another entity.
- Ease of compliance: The process of registering a DBA name is definitely less complicated than forming an LLC or a corporation, which is great for small businesses. A DBA name will also allow sole proprietors and partnerships to legally operate under a more descriptive name without needing to form a corporation or LLC.
- Privacy: This specifically benefits sole proprietors and partnerships who don’t want to use their legal names to conduct business with the public. A DBA name will make it easier for owners to use a business name other than their real names.
- Business bank account: A DBA name will authorize you to set up a business bank account under a business name. For sole proprietors, having a business bank account is especially beneficial because it separates the business transactions from the owner’s personal finances.
Keep reading to find out how to register your Missouri DBA name. In the sections below, you’ll also learn when to submit corrections and how to maintain your fictitious name.
How do I choose a Missouri DBA name?
A Missouri DBA name is a way for you to create brand recognition. So, it’s important that you spend time coming up with one that represents and defines your business. Think of a name that reflects your products and services. If you’re an LLC or corporation owner looking to start a separate product category for your business, make sure the DBA name communicates that, as well.
While brainstorming for a fictitious name for your business, you should also consider the following requirements set out by the state of Missouri:
- Fictitious names should not include any word or phrase that expresses or implies that your business represents a government agency.
- Fictitious names should not include any business entity suffix, for example, “LLC,” “Incorporated,” “Ltd,” etc., unless your company is an LLC, corporation, partnership, etc.
- Fictitious names should not include words used in a way that expresses or implies that your business is a financial institution. Examples of these words are “Bank,” “Trust,” and “Savings.”
The state of Missouri, like most states, does not offer name protection for DBA names. This means multiple businesses can operate under the same name. However, there’s still a way for you to stand out and make sure you’re the only one operating under your preferred brand name.
You can start by checking Missouri’s business entity database to see if other local businesses are already using your desired DBA name. But a trademark overrides a DBA registration. So, it’s also important for you to verify from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) that no other company has trademarked the name you want to use.
How do I register a Missouri DBA name?
Fictitious name registration is a fairly easy process. Follow the step-by-step guide below to get a DBA name for your Missouri business today.
- Search the business entity database to confirm if your desired name is available. Follow these guidelines set out by the office of the Secretary of State for the use of the online business filing system.
- File your registration. You can file online with the Missouri online portal. These instructions can help if you’re having difficulty navigating Missouri’s online business filing system. To file a paper copy, you can fill out the “Registration of Fictitious Name” form. You will need the following information:
- DBA name being registered
- Business address
- Names and addresses of owners
- Owners’ percentage of ownership
- Business charter number (if applicable)
- Original signature of owners
- Send your registration. If you are filing a paper copy, your registration and the fee of $7 can be mailed or delivered in-person in the addresses specified below. If you plan to hand your application in-person through the branch offices, they also advise that you call ahead to confirm that your registration can be processed.
James C. Kirkpatrick State Information Center
P.O. Box 778
Jefferson City, MO 65102
600 W Main St.
Missouri State Information Center, Room 322
Jefferson City, MO 65101-0778
U.S. Customs & Post Office Building
815 Olive Street, Suite 150
St. Louis, MO 63101
Kansas City State Office Building
615 E. 13th St., Fifth Floor, Rm 513
Kansas City, MO 64106
Springfield State Office Building
149 Park Central Sq., Rm 624
Springfield, MO 65806
How do I manage ongoing DBA name compliance in Missouri?
The state of Missouri does not have a publication requirement for DBA name registration. So, once you receive confirmation of your DBA name application, you can start using it as a business name immediately.
However, there are compliance requirements that you still need to adhere to, such as:
- Renewal requirements: Your DBA name registration is only valid for five years and should be renewed within six months before the expiry date. Make sure you file for a renewal before the expiry date because an expired registration can’t be renewed, and you’ll have to file a new DBA name application. To renew, submit the “Registration of Fictitious Name” form with the renewal box ticked. File your application with the renewal fee of $7 online, by mail, or in-person to the same addresses listed above.
- Amendments and corrections: To modify the address of the business or owner(s), you’ll have to file an amendment. Use the “Registration of Fictitious Name” form; just remember to check the amendment box. To correct errors on a recently filed application, you’ll have to submit the same form but with the correction box ticked. Examples of mistakes that can be corrected are typos, misspelled words, or an interchanged number in an address. The fee for every amendment or correction filing is $7.
- Cancellation of registration: In compliance with the Fictitious Name Act, if there’s a change in ownership of a business with an existing DBA name registration, a “Cancellation of Registration of Fictitious Name” form has to be filed within five days of such change. There is no fee for canceling your DBA name registration. If you or the new business owners wish to continue using the DBA name, a new application is necessary.
Missouri DBA FAQs
How much does it cost to register a Missouri DBA name?
The costs associated with a new DBA name registration for your Missouri business are:
- New registration fee of $7
- A renewal fee of $7 every five years
- Amendments and corrections filing fee of $7 for every submission
What is the processing time to register a Missouri DBA?
A DBA name registration can be submitted online, by mail, or in-person in the state of Missouri. If you submit online, you’ll be able to download a receipt and acknowledgment of filing as soon as the payment process is completed.
The Secretary of State’s office gives the assurance that applications submitted by mail will be processed and returned in the order they are received. However, you also need to allow time for the mailing process. If you are filing your documents in-person, applications in proper form may be processed and confirmed while you wait.
Do I need a DBA name for my Missouri business?
A DBA name registration is not required if you don’t plan to conduct business under a different name other than your legal name. If you’d like to use a name that is more representative of your business, such as “Dylan’s Wood Carvings” as opposed to “Dylan Murphy,” then you’d need to file a DBA name.
The state of Missouri legally requires business owners to register a DBA name. Adopting a name other than your business name and representing your business under such a name is considered a misdemeanor under the state law. It can also lead to charges by the local prosecuting attorney.
If I register a DBA name in Missouri, can another business use the same name?
Yes, unfortunately, the Fictitious Name Act does not offer any name protection. So, there may be multiple businesses operating under the same name. It’s also worth noting that a DBA name registration does not override a trademark.
A trademark is “any word, symbol, device, or a combination used, or intended to be used,” to separate and characterize the goods and services of a business from other businesses. A trademark is the best way to establish your name and create brand recognition.
Can a business in Missouri have multiple DBA names?
Yes, your Missouri business can have multiple DBA names. Sometimes, business owners create DBA names to specify and distinguish a new product line. A fictitious name may also be registered for a new division in the business.
For example, if a freelance photographer wants separate branding for the wedding and sports divisions of their business, a DBA name dedicated to each area will be a good solution.
Is a DBA name the same thing as a fictitious business name in Missouri?
Yes, in the state of Missouri, a DBA name is also called a “fictitious name.” DBAs can also be referred to as “assumed names” or “trade names” in other states.
Do I need a DBA name in Missouri if I use my own name for a sole proprietorship?
No, if you plan to use your own name to conduct business as a sole proprietor, you don’t need to register a DBA name.
Will using a DBA name affect how my business is taxed in Missouri?
No, a DBA name will not affect how your business is taxed in Missouri or any other state because it does not create a separate business entity. So, even if you file for a DBA name, your business will still be taxed as a sole proprietorship, partnership, an LLC, or a corporation.
A DBA name only authorizes you to operate under a different name than your own name if you are a sole proprietor or partnership. If you’re an LLC or a corporation, a DBA name allows you to conduct business under a shorter version of your business name. You can also file DBA names for new product lines or if you want to expand your operations.
Are you overwhelmed by all the preparations for starting your own business? Do you need assistance in business formation in Missouri? Contact ZenBusiness today to learn how we can speed up the process. Our experts can take the stress out of running and growing your Missouri small business.