Are you a Virginia 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 Virginia 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 Virginia 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 Virginia 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 Virginia 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 Virginia DBA?
In Virginia, the process for getting a DBA, also known as a Fictitious Name, is rather complicated. The first step is to run a business name search with the Virginia Secretary of State.
This ensures that your desired business name is available, and hasn’t already been claimed by another business in the state.
After that, you will need to file a Certificate of Assumed or Fictitious Name with the Clerk of the Circuit Court, the Clerk’s Office of the Commission, and the local county clerk’s office for every county in which your company does business. For these forms, you will need to provide the following information:
Once you have finished these forms, you can mail the application and a check (processing fees will vary by county) to the all of the clerk’s offices mentioned above. You can learn more about this form and process on the State Corporation Commission website.
How Long Does a Virginia DBA Last?
The rules regulating DBAs can vary by county, so it is best to contact the county clerk’s office for every county in which your DBA name will be used. However, for most DBAs, the standard effective lifespan is 5 years, after which time you will need to file a renewal.
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 in Virginia, it is definitely worth considering. In other states, the process can be pretty straightforward, but the requirements for obtaining a Virginia DBA are complex and time consuming. Thankfully, 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 Virginia 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 Virginia; 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 Virginia require publication of a DBA name?
A: At the state level, Virginia does not require publication of a DBA name, however some counties may have different requirements. It is best to check with your local county clerk’s office for more information.