Are you a Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania 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 a Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania 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 a Pennsylvania DBA?
The process to obtain a Pennsylvania DBA, also known as a Fictitious Name, is relatively simple, though it requires a few more steps than some states. First, it is recommended that you run a business name search to see that your desired name is not already in use. You can do so right here.
This ensures that your desired business name is available, and hasn’t already been claimed by another business in the state.
A Pennsylvania DBA can be filed by mail or online. According to the Pennsylvania Department of State: “To register an assumed or fictitious business name, the Fictitious Name Registration form [DSCB:54-311] must be filed. This application must contain the following information: Pennsylvania Department of State Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations
P.O. Box 8722
Harrisburg, PA 17105-8722
If your filing the form by mail, you will need to include a check for $70 made payable to the “Department of State.” Then, you can mail the form and the check to the following address:
Pennsylvania Department of State Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations P.O. Box 8722 Harrisburg, PA 17105-8722Additionally, you will need to publish notice of your DBA name in at least two newspapers located in the same county as your principal place of business.
How Long Does a Pennsylvania DBA Last?
In the state of Pennsylvania, DBAs do not have an expiration date, and therefore do not require renewal. However, you will need to inform the Department of State if you no longer wish to use your DBA.
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.
Hiring a DBA service can save you some time, and it may be worth the price in Pennsylvania. In some other states, the process just requires filing the paperwork with the state, but in Pennsylvania, you will need to contact two local newspapers and publish notice of your DBA before the state can process your paperwork. So, 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 Pennsylvania 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 a Pennsylvania; 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 Pennsylvania require publication of a DBA name?
A: Yes, you will need to publish notice of your DBA in two newspapers located in the same county as your principal place of business. To find out more about Pennsylvania DBA publication requirements, consult this link.