If you run a business under an assumed name in Texas, 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 Texas, the DBA is actually called a “Assumed Name.” Essentially, they’re the same concept. “Assumed Name” is just the terminology used by the state. For consistency, we’ll call it an Assumed 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 good LLC services that can help you take care of the paperwork.
Do You Need a Texas Assumed Name?
Not all business entities in Texas need an Assumed Name. Ordinarily, a business needs an Assumed 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 an Assumed Name in order to use that name. An Assumed 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 an Assumed 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.
An Texas Assumed Name does present a few advantages. While it doesn’t offer any specific legal protections or tax incentives, an Assumed 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.
Registering your Assumed Name is required. That said, where you file will vary depending on your entity type. Most incorporated entities will file with the Secretary of State, while entities like general partnerships and sole proprietorships will file with both the Secretary of State and their local county clerk. You can find a full listing of where each business type should file here.
1) File Your Assumed Name with the Texas Secretary of State or Your Local County Clerk
In Texas, registering your name does not prevent other entities from using that name. Multiple entities in the state can use the same Assumed Name. You won’t be able to protect your name without making it into a trademark or taking similar action.
That said, you do want to ensure that the Assumed Name you’re using does not infringe on the legal names of incorporated entities. Ordinarily, you’d need to search the Secretary of State’s online database of business names. However, Texas does not offer this exact tool. You can call or email the Secretary of State’s office and inquire about your name. Or, you can run a Taxable Entity Search on the Texas Comptroller’s website.
You can search this database as a starting point; after all, businesses with legally protected names also have a tax ID. Simply type in the name you hope to use. If no exact matches pop up, then it’s possible that your Assumed Name is not protected. However, this search does not account for names which have been reserved by entities that are still forming. Ultimately, the final say for name availability rests with the Secretary of State.
After that, you’ll need to file your Assumed Name Certificate. This form is used by the Secretary of State; if you also need to file on the local level, you should contact your clerk for the appropriate form. (You can find your county clerk’s office listed here).
The Secretary of State charges a $25 fee for this filing. Fees on the county level may vary, though. The form includes some information about your business, including your business’s legal name, the mailing address, and of course, your Assumed Name.
2) Maintaining your Texas Assumed Name
All Assumed Names are valid for ten years after your initial registration. After that, if you intend to continue using your name, you’ll need to renew your filing. In Texas, “renewing” your filing actually entails filing another Assumed Name Certificate.
If you ever need to make a change to your name or even stop using it, you should alert both the state and county. The state offers an Abandonment of Assumed Name Certificate form if you need to stop using your name.
Need Help Filing your Assumed 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 Texas Assumed Name.