If you run a business under an assumed name in Indiana, 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 Indiana, the DBA is actually called an “Assumed Business Name” (ABN). Essentially, they’re the same concept. “ABN” is just the terminology used by the state. For consistency, we’ll call it an ABN 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 business formation services that can help you take care of the paperwork.
Do You Need an Indiana ABN?
Not all business entities in Indiana need an ABN. Ordinarily, a business needs an ABN 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 ABN in order to use that name. An ABN 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 ABN. 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 Indiana ABN does present a few advantages. While it doesn’t offer any specific legal protections or tax incentives, an ABN 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.
Filing an ABN in Indiana is fairly simple. The most important part is filing with the correct office.
1) File Your ABN with the Indiana Secretary of State or Your Local County Recorder
Where you file your ABN depends on the type of entity you’ve formed. Formal, incorporated entities such as corporations must file with the Secretary of State. Unincorporated entities such as sole proprietorships, however, will file with their local county recorder’s office.
Before you file, however, you need to make sure your name is available for you to use. Indiana does not allow for entities to adopt an ABN that’s already been claimed by an incorporated entity. To do so, you’ll need to run a Business Name Search.
By using “Exact Match” and typing in your business name, you can determine whether or not your name is already in use. If an exact match exists, you’ll need to make some changes. Once you’ve done so, you can file your forms. Incorporated entities can file a Certificate of Assumed Business Name with the Secretary of State. For unincorporated entities, we recommend that you contact your local county recorder’s office.
For incorporated entities, the fee for this registration is $20 if you file online or $30 if you file by mail. The fee for unincorporated entities depends on your county.
2) Maintaining your Indiana ABN
In Indiana, your ABN does not expire (it does in some states). As an incorporated entity, you won’t need to worry about renewing your ABN. But if you ever need to withdraw you filings for any reason, you can. In fact, if you no longer want to use your ABN, you should file a withdrawal of your filing.
Similarly, for unincorporated entity, your county recorder might require an amendment to your filings if you change your name. We recommend that you contact them about any maintenance of your ABN.
Need Help Filing your ABN?
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 Indiana ABN.