Are you an Alabama business owner who wants to be able to operate your company under an assumed name? If so, consider acquiring a doing business as (DBA) name.
How do you obtain a DBA name for your Alabama company, and how are you allowed to use your new name? In this guide, we’ll walk through every detail of the DBA acquisition process in this state.
What is an Alabama DBA?
For sole proprietorships and general partnerships, a DBA enables you to use a name other than the owner’s personal name. For limited liability companies and corporations, DBAs allow you to use multiple names to officially refer to your business activities.
There are many different reasons for Alabama companies to acquire ‘doing business as’ names.
- For sole proprietorships and partnerships, they can make your company sound more professional than simply using your own name. You can also open a bank account using your DBA, which can not only help you keep your business and personal assets separate, but customers often have a higher comfort level writing out a check to a business name rather than to an individual’s personal name.
- For corporations and LLCs, DBAs are frequently used to give the company the option of using different names for separate product lines. Another common usage of a DBA is to distinguish satellite businesses from your main company. Restaurant owners love to do this, as for example it can help a fine-dining establishment open a fast-casual spin-off restaurant without affecting customers’ perceptions of the original location. Whether you want to create this separation for marketing or accounting purposes (or both), a doing business as name gives companies options that they wouldn’t otherwise have.
In short, a DBA in Alabama allows businesses to communicate their image and express themselves in different ways without having to actually form a new business to do so.
How Do I File an Alabama DBA?
In Alabama, the process for getting a DBA is pretty simple. The first step is to run a business name availability search with the Alabama Secretary of State, which you can do using this convenient tool on their website.
This ensures that your desired business name is available, and hasn’t already been claimed by another business in the state.
If you are a sole proprietor operating under a fictitious name, the state of Alabama does not require you to register said name. However, a corporation or LLC using a name that differs from the parent company must reserve the DBA using the standard Name Reservation Request Form. This form must include the following information: PO Box 5616
Montgomery, AL 36103-5616
Quick Note: Alabama does have one special requirement regarding DBAs with the term “engineer.” Any company wishing to use the term as part of their DBA must have a licensed engineer on staff. Once you finish filling out this form, you’ll need to include a check for $10 made payable to the “Alabama Secretary of State” Then, you can mail the form and the check to the Secretary of State’s office, which is located at:
PO Box 5616 Montgomery, AL 36103-5616
How Long Does an Alabama DBA Last?
All Alabama DBAs have an initial lifespan of 10 years, after which time they must be renewed. If you would like to continue using your assumed name beyond the ten-year point, you should file an Application to Renew a Trade Name with the Secretary of State’s office within six months of the expiration date. Each time you file a renewal, the state of Alabama will renew your DBA for an additional ten-year period.
Should I Hire a Professional DBA Filing Service?
If you’d rather not fill out the paperwork and register for a DBA yourself, there are plenty of reputable companies offering a service. For a fee, these services will assemble the relevant paperwork and submit it to your state, and all you have to do is supply them with some basic information.
In Alabama, filing for a DBA is relatively fast and inexpensive. While hiring a DBA service can save you some time, there are probably better ways to use your budget. In other states, the process can be more complicated, but the requirements for obtaining an Alabama DBA are so simple that by the time you finish giving your info to a DBA service, you could probably just file the forms yourself. That said, if you’re just too busy to handle any more tasks, most service providers (Ex: LegalZoom) charge a fair rate for this service.
The doing business as name, or DBA for short, is one of the most simple business filings for Alabama entrepreneurs. The process to acquire one is quite straightforward, and you can begin using your new assumed name as soon as the state completes your filing.
We hope this article answered your questions about how to file an Alabama; DBA!
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Does a DBA provide any legal protections?
A: No, registering a DBA does not legally protect you or your business. If you’re seeking personal asset protection, you might want to look into forming a corporation or a limited liability company rather than just acquiring a DBA name.
Q: Does a DBA need a registered agent?
A: A registered agent is not a legal requirement for sole proprietorships or general partnerships that acquire DBA names. However, limited liability companies and corporations do require a registered agent whether they have a DBA or not.
Q: Can someone else register a business using the same name as my DBA?
A: Filing a DBA does not give your business exclusive rights to your assumed name. If someone wants to use the same name, and they form an LLC or corporation with it, they are legally allowed to take your name for themselves.
Q: Does the state of Alabama require publication of a DBA name?
A: While some states do require business owners to publish proof of their DBA in a local newspaper, Alabama does not.