If you run a business under an assumed name in Arizona, 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 Arizona, 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 an Arizona Trade Name?
Not all business entities in Arizona 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.
An Arizona 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.
In Arizona, using a Trade Name is not required, but if you intend to use one, you’ll need to register with the Secretary of State—which takes us to step one!
1) File Your Trade Name with the Arizona Secretary of State
Registering your Trade Name with the Secretary of State is the most important part of setting up your Trade Name. Technically, the registration does not give you exclusive access to the name. But here’s the thing: any business name that’s registered with the state must be both distinctive and distinguishable from those already on file. So if you register your Trade Name, your name is on file. Any future entities will have to come up with a name that’s distinct from yours.
Arizona’s regulations on distinct and distinguishable business names is the primary reason you should run an Arizona Entity Search. This search will help you know if someone has already filed the trade name you want. If no results pop up, then it’s likely that your name is free to use.
Next, you’ll need to complete a Trade Name Application. This form includes important information about your business along with the name you hope to use. Upon receiving your application, the Secretary of State will review its records; if there are no problems with the name you’ve chosen, your application is approved. If you get a rejection, don’t worry: often you need only add a word or two to make your name distinct.
There is a $10 filing fee for this application. Arizona prefers that you pay by credit or debit card (they’ve transitioned to an exclusive online filing system). But if you don’t have a card, you can mail in a check along with a copy of your application.
2) Maintaining your Arizona Trade Name
Your initial name registration is valid for five years. After that, to maintain your name, you’ll need to submit a Trade Name Renewal. This process will give you another five years with your Trade Name. Arizona recommends that you begin filing this form six months before the actual due date to ensure that you renew on time. Filing early would protect you in the event of delays with your filings.
Like the registration, the renewal fee is $10.
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 Arizona Trade Name.