If you run a business under an assumed name in South Dakota, 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.
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 cheap LLC services that can help you take care of the paperwork.
Do You Need a South Dakota DBA?
Not all business entities in South Dakota need a DBA. Ordinarily, a business needs a DBA 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 DBA in order to use that name. A DBA 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 DBA. 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 South Dakota DBA does present a few advantages. While it doesn’t offer any specific legal protections or tax incentives, a DBA 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.
South Dakota processes DBAs online. There are no paper forms available for the process.
1) File Your DBA with the South Dakota Secretary of State
South Dakota requires all businesses to register a DBA if it is different from their business’s legal name. That said, there are a few exceptions. If your DBA clearly shows your surname (for sole proprietorships), you are not required to register it, even though your legal name is technically your full name. Or, if the DBA you wish to use is listed on one of your business’s required filings with the Secretary of State, then you will not need to file.
Before you actually file your DBA, you should run a DBA – Business Name Information Search. This search will help you know what DBAs have already been filed with the state. South Dakota does not protect DBAs; multiple businesses can use the same DBA.
That said, it’s a good idea to make sure that your name is unique. This search will help you do just that. Simply type in the DBA you’d like to use. If there are no exact matches to your DBA, then your name should stand out. (If someone is already using your DBA, you can technically still use it; you may choose not to in order to avoid confusion).
After that, you can file your DBA with the Secretary of State. This online filing is relatively straightforward. You’ll need to list at least one owner for the business, and if you’re already incorporated with the Secretary of State, you’ll be asked for your Business ID.
South Dakota charges a $10 fee for this service. You can pay with most major credit or debit cards.
2) Maintaining your South Dakota DBA
South Dakota DBAs are valid for five years. After that, you’ll need to file a renewal if you intend to keep using your DBA. You can file this renewal as early as 90 days prior to the DBA’s expiration date. If you miss this 90-day period, you will not be able renew; at that point, you would need to file a new registration over again.
Like the initial registration, there is a $10 fee.
Need Help Filing your DBA?
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 South Dakota DBA.