If you run a business under an assumed name in Louisiana, you may want to set up a DBA. Short for “Doing Business As,” a DBA serves as an alternate title for your business. Often, a DBA is the name customers will use to refer to your company. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about DBAs: who needs one, who doesn’t, and two easy steps to filing with the state.
In Louisiana, the DBA is actually called a “Trade Name.” Essentially, they’re the same concept. “Trade Name” is just the terminology used by the state. For consistency, we’ll call it a Trade Name throughout the rest of this guide.
NOTE: Keep in mind that filing a trade name will not give your business protection through the corporate veil like an LLC will. If this is something you want or need, don’t fret, there are many online LLC services that can help you take care of the paperwork.
Do You Need a Louisiana Trade Name?
Not all business entities in Louisiana need a Trade Name. Ordinarily, a business needs a Trade Name when the name of their business differs from the name registered with the state.
So let’s say that Lauren operates a sole proprietorship; her legal business formation documents list her full name as the legal owner of the business. But if she wants to run her shop under the name Sew Sweet Creations, she’d need to file a Trade Name in order to use that name. A Trade Name is also useful for corporations which want to establish additional businesses or locations with a name that’s different from the Corporation name.
Limited liability companies, nonprofit corporations, and corporations operating exclusively under the name on file with the state usually do not need a Trade Name. They may choose to use one if they want to establish a new product line or chain of businesses under their original parent company.
A Louisiana Trade Name does present a few advantages. While it doesn’t offer any specific legal protections or tax incentives, a Trade Name allows you to get a business bank account. You can also give your customers peace of mind—most people are more comfortable writing a check to a business than an individual.
Louisiana uses geauxBIZ to easily process their business filings, from tax forms to business formation documents. As of January 1 of 2018, all businesses must use geauxBIZ when possible.
1) File Your Trade Name with the Louisiana Secretary of State
In Louisiana, if you register for a Trade Name and the state accepts your application, no one else will be able to use that name within the state. Louisiana law dictates that all trade names, corporation names, and limited liability company names must be distinguishable from those on record with the Secretary of State.
That said, the registration process can be a bit tricky. To register the name, you must be able to prove that you own the Trade Name. The application asks for two dates. First, you’ll need to state the date when the name was first used anywhere. Then, you’ll provide the date when you started using the name in Louisiana. If another business is already using the name, you’ll need to change it.
If you want to set up a Trade Name that you haven’t already used, you can file a Trade Name Reservation. This reservation will give you 120 days to get everything set up without the risk of someone else claiming your name.
To determine whether or not your desired name is already in use, you can start by running a Search by Entity Name. Simply type in the full trade name that you’d like to use. If no exact matches pop up, then it’s likely that your name is available. However, the tool is not all-powerful. You’ll also want to run a search at the federal level to ensure that your name does not infringe on any registered trademarks. You can also run a Google search or check your local phone directories for business names.
Once you’ve done this research, you’re ready to submit an application to register your Trade Name. You can do so with geauxBIZ, or use this pdf. You will also need to provide three facsimiles with your application.
There is a $75 filing fee for this application. You can pay by check or credit card.
2) Maintaining your Louisiana Trade Name
Unlike some states, once your registration is filed, it lasts forever. You will not need to file a renewal. However, if you ever decide to discontinue use of your name, you’ll need file a cancellation.
Like the registration, the cancellation fee is $75.
Need Help Filing your Trade Name?
If this process sounds like a hassle, you can get help with setting up your business’s name with a service like Legalzoom. They make the process simple: you simply provide them with the necessary information about your company, and they’ll fill out the paperwork so you don’t have to. The process is both easy and affordable, letting you focus on running your business.
Your name is an important part of your business, but keeping compliant with state requirements can be tricky! We hope this guide made it quick and easy to set up your Louisiana trade name.