How To Get a DBA in Washington

If you’re interested in creating a DBA name for your Washington business, then use our step-by-step guide. While we don’t currently offer DBA registration services in Washington, we can help you with starting a business. Get started below.

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If you own a business and would like to use a different name than your legal business name in the state of Washington, you will need to register a DBA name. Also called an assumed name, fictitious business name, or trade name, DBA names are usually 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.

Although we don’t currently offer DBA registration in Washington, this guide will cover the basics of what a DBA name is as well as the rules for choosing, registering, and maintaining one in the Evergreen State.

What is a Washington “doing business as” (DBA) name?

A DBA name does not establish or create a separate legal entity for your business. Hence, it won’t have any bearing on how your business is taxed. Think of a DBA name as an alias for your business.

Below are the two primary categories of businesses that typically use DBA names:

  • Sole proprietorships and partnerships: These businesses use DBA names so that they can have a legal business name. Without a DBA name, they will have to use their personal names.
  • Corporations and LLCs: DBA names are used by corporations or LLCs to introduce a new line of business or market new products or services that their current business name does not represent. 

Here are other benefits of a DBA that you can take advantage of:

  • Business bank account: Most financial institutions will require sole proprietorships and partnerships to obtain a DBA name before they can open a business bank account. 
  • Privacy: Sole proprietors and partnerships tend to register for DBA names to keep their personal names from public records. A DBA name allows them to list a different business name instead. 
  • Descriptive brand name: A sole proprietor or partner will utilize a DBA name to craft a more descriptive name for their business. For example, “Dylan Murphy,” as a business name, does not communicate what the business offers, but “Dylan’s Custom Furniture” will.  
  • Business expansion: Corporations and LLCs use DBA names when they’re expanding to new territories where their business names are in use or might be confusing. For example, “Seattle’s Moving Services” may not be well-received in Tacoma, so the owner may register for a DBA name to use “Tacoma’s Moving Services.”

Read on for a detailed overview of how to obtain and maintain a DBA name for your Washington business. The relevant information will be divided into sections below.

How do I register a Washington DBA name?

The state of Washington has a fairly easy process for trade name registration. Below is a walk-through of the steps.

  1. To check if your desired DBA name is not in use, search the Department of Revenue’s business lookup database for general licenses. 
  2. Search the Secretary of State Corporation Registration Data for registered corporation and LLC names. 
  3. To ensure you are not infringing on any registered trademark, check the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). 
  4. Before filing the Business License Application, you must file with the Washington Secretary of State if you have a formal business structure, such as a corporation, partnership, LLC, or limited liability partnership. 
  5. File a Business License Application online with My DOR. List the DBA name you want to register in the “Endorsement and Fees” section. The fee for each name is $5. You also need to pay a nonrefundable Business License Application processing fee of $19 for each application. If you’re opening a business for the first time, there may be additional fees. Use this to calculate your total cost. Registration can also be done through the mail. Send your application with any supplemental documents and the payment to:

    Business Licensing Service
    P.O. Box 9034
    Olympia, WA 98507-9034
  6. If your application is approved, you will receive your business license with your trade name registration from the Washington Department of Revenue. 

How do I choose a Washington DBA name?

Businesses adopt DBA names or trade names for various reasons. One of those reasons is to create a distinct business name that describes the products or services offered. Some businesses use their names to reflect and communicate the values of their company. Still, others utilize a DBA name to establish an alternate name for a specific line of their business.

In the state of Washington, you are legally required to register a trade name to operate under a different name other than your legal name as a sole proprietor or partnership. The same goes for corporations, LLCs, or limited partnerships if they want to conduct business under a name other than registered with the Washington Secretary of State. 

And even though DBA names are not exclusive, and registering does not protect it from being used by other local businesses, it is still in your best interest to pick a DBA name that is distinct and not too similar to ones already in use. 

To verify if your desired Washington DBA name is available, check the Department of Revenue’s database for general licenses. Also, conduct a name search via the Secretary of State Corporation Registration Data for registered corporation and LLC names. If you plan to trademark your name, you may also want to check the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for federally registered names.

The state of Washington also has naming requirements, namely:

  • Your trade name should not include any business entity suffix, such as “LLC,” “Inc.,” or “Corp.” if your business is not an LLC, corporation, etc.
  • Your trade name should not include the following words or phrases if your business is not organized for the said purpose: “Bank,” “Banking,” “Banker,” “Trust,” “Cooperative, any combination of the words “Industrial” and “Loan,” any combination of any two or more of the words “Building,” “Savings,” “Loan,” “Home,” “Association,” and “Society,” or any other words or phrases prohibited by any Washington state statute.

How do I manage ongoing DBA name compliance in Washington?

The state of Washington does not require a renewal for your DBA name, so it is valid indefinitely until you decide to change or cancel it. 

There are two ways to change your DBA name:

  • File online
  • By mail: Fill out the registration form and tick the box next to “Change trade name.” List your new DBA name under the endorsement section. Send the form with payment of $24 to the Business Licensing Service.

There is no fee to cancel your DBA name. You can withdraw your registration through one of the following channels:

  • File online 
  • Email the Business Licensing Service at
  • Fax a letter requesting the cancellation to 360-705-6699
  • Mail a letter requesting the cancellation to: 

Business Licensing Service
P.O. Box 9034
Olympia, WA 98507-9034

We Can Help!

While we don’t currently support DBA registration in Washington, we can help you create one in states we do support, including: Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas and Utah. We can make creating a DBA name in another state simple. 

Do you need additional guidance on business formation in Washington? Connect with ZenBusiness to learn how we can help you speed up the process. Our experts in business formation and compliance will take the stress out of starting and growing your Washington small business.

Washington DBA FAQs

  • 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.

  • Online applications are processed within 10 business days. Paper applications are processed within three to six weeks.

  • Not all businesses benefit from registering a DBA name. If you are a sole proprietor or partnership, you might want to adopt one to advertise your business under a name that is not your personal name. Similarly, corporations and LLCs utilize DBA names when introducing new products or services that their current business name does not represent.

  • Unfortunately, registering a DBA name in Washington does not provide you exclusive use of it. It’s also worth noting that DBA names do not override trademarks. If you don’t want others to use your name, a trademark is the most practical way to protect your brand.

  • Yes, a business in Washington can register for an unlimited number of trade names.

  • The state of Washington uses the term “trade name” to refer to DBA names, but they are essentially the same thing.

  • As a sole proprietorship, you don’t need to register a DBA name if you plan to use your own name. However, if you plan on operating under a different name, you would need to register for a DBA name.

  • A DBA name is not a business structure. It will not create or establish a new legal entity. Hence, it will not impact how your business is taxed at the local, state, or federal level.

Disclaimer: The content on this page is for information 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.

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Written by Team ZenBusiness

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