Are you a Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin DBA?
In Wisconsin, the process for getting a DBA, also known as a Trade Name, is rather simple. The first step is to run a business name availability search with the Wisconsin Secretary of State, which you can do right here.
This ensures that your desired business name is available, and hasn’t already been claimed by another business in the state.
Next, you will need to download and print out the Trade Name application at this link. This form will require general information about your business, including the legal business name, the desired DBA name, and contact information. Once you finish filling out this form, you’ll need to include a check for $15. Then, you can mail the form and the check to the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions at this address: 201 W Washington Avenue, Suite 500
Madison, WI 53703
201 W Washington Avenue, Suite 500 Madison, WI 53703
How Long Does a Wisconsin DBA Last?
Any DBA name registration has an effective lifespan of ten years from the date it’s filed with the state of Wisconsin. If you would like to continue using your assumed name beyond the ten-year point, you should file a renewal prior to your DBA’s date of expiration. Renewal forms must be notarized prior to filing.
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, there are probably better ways to use your budget. In other states, the process can be more complicated, but the requirements for obtaining a Wisconsin DBA are relatively simple. However, you cannot register a DBA online, and renewals must be notarized, which can take additional time. 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 Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin; 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 Wisconsin require publication of a DBA name?
A: No, Wisconsin does not require publication of DBA names.