Are you an Iowa 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 Iowa 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 Iowa 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 Iowa 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 Iowa 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 Iowa DBA?
In Iowa, the process for getting a DBA, often referred to as a “fictitious name,” is quick and easy. First, you will need to ensure that your desired business name is not already taken. To do this, you can run a business entity search on the Iowa Secretary of State website.
This ensures that your desired business name is available, and hasn’t already been claimed by another business in the state.
You’ll then need to fill out the Fictitious Name Resolution, which includes some important information about your company, including: Secretary of State Business Services Division
Lucas Building, 1st Floor
Des Moines, Iowa 50319
Once you finish filling out this form, you’ll need to include a check for $5 made payable to “Secretary of State.” Then, you can mail the form and the check to the Secretary of State’s office, which is located at:
Secretary of State Business Services Division Lucas Building, 1st Floor Des Moines, Iowa 50319It is important to note that this form and process only apply to LLCs. Sole-proprietorships and general partnerships will need to file at the county level, where the process may differ.
How Long Does an Iowa DBA Last?
Any “doing business as” name registration has an effective lifespan of two years from the date it is filed with the Iowa Secretary of State. If you would like to continue using your fictitious name beyond the two-year point, you must renew your DBA with the Secretary of State’s office before the expiration date. Each time you file a renewal, the state of Iowa will renew your DBA for another two-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.
While hiring a DBA service can save you some time, it may not be the best use of your budget, especially since the filing process for DBAs only requires one form and a $5 processing fee. In other states, the process can be more complicated, but in Iowa, you should probably just file the paperwork 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 Iowa 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 Iowa; 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 Iowa require publication of a DBA name?
A: No, Iowa does not require publication of a DBA name.