If you run a business under an assumed name in Missouri, 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 Missouri, the DBA is actually called a “Fictitious Name.” Essentially, they’re the same concept. “Fictitious Name” is just the terminology used by the state. For consistency, we’ll call it a Fictitious 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 Missouri Fictitious Name?
Not all business entities in Missouri need a Fictitious Name. Ordinarily, a business needs a Fictitious 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 Fictitious Name in order to use that name. A Fictitious 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 Fictitious 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 Missouri Fictitious Name does present a few advantages. While it doesn’t offer any specific legal protections or tax incentives, a Fictitious 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.
In Missouri, registering your fictitious name is required, regardless of your entity type. That said, registering your name does not grant it any protections.
1) File Your Fictitious Name with the Missouri Secretary of State
Missouri requires all entities to register a fictitious name if they intend to use it in the state. Before you do that, though, you’ll need to check that your name is available. There can be multiple businesses existing with the same fictitious name in Missouri. However, your name cannot be the same as one that has been registered or reserved with the state. This option is available for incorporated entities, and you can find out which have been claimed by running a Business Entity Search.
Simply type in your desired fictitious name into the search tool. If any exact matches emerge, you may need to change it. But first check what type of name it is; you can use the name if it matches a fictitious name, but not one of a limited liability company, corporation, nonprofit, or similar entity.
After you determine that your name is available, you should file a Registration of Fictitious Name. This form includes some information about your business, including your business address, the legal name of your entity, and, of course, your desired name.
There is a $7 fee for this registration. You can file the form in person, online, or by mail. If you want to file in person, you may drop off the form at your local Secretary of State’s office.
2) Maintaining your Missouri Fictitious Name
Your initial registration is good for five years after filing. If you want to continue using your name after that point, you’ll need to renew it. The renewal uses the same form as the initial registration, and the fee is the same.
Thankfully, the renewal is fairly simple. That said, you’ll want to be sure you file it on time. You can file it any time within six months before it expires. If you do let it expire, don’t worry; you can file over again. You’d simply receive a new charter number.
Need Help Filing your Fictitious 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 Missouri Fictitious Name.