A DBA -- short for "doing business as" -- is a trade name that differs from your personal name. When you first create a business, its legal name defaults to the person or entity that owns it. In order to choose a different name, you must register a new alternative name by filling out a DBA form. A DBA is a valuable business asset that can be transferred to another party.
In each state, every business must operate under a name that is not in use or confusingly similar to another business in that state. This requirement prevents public confusion over who is legally responsible for the business activity. If a business discovers that its name is already in use in a particular state or if it wants to use a name that is different from its legal one, the business must register an assumed name, also known as a DBA.
Each state has its own requirements for filing a DBA. Some states register DBAs at the state level, but most register them at city or county levels. By registering a DBA, the business gains the right to use the name in that jurisdiction for a specified number of years. When the time period runs out, the business can renew its registration. Forms and additional information about the process can be found through online legal document providers.
Changing Contact Information
Each state and jurisdiction has its own DBA rules, but many do not offer a specific way to transfer ownership of a DBA to another person. However, one type of workaround for this issue is commonly used. A business owner can change the contact information for the DBA registration by filling out a form and paying a fee. In Texas, for example, this is the recognized way to change a DBA's ownership. The Texas form is called an Assumed Name Certificate. Changing the name of the business owner on a DBA form effectively transfers the DBA to the new person.
Although many states do not have a specific way to transfer DBA ownership, some states do have rules in place for the process. For example, in Utah, a business owner must fill out an Application for Preparing a Letter of Transfer for a Business Name Registration. This application must be signed by both the old and new owners. However, a copy of a bill of sale can be used in place of the application. The rules on transferring a DBA differ from state to state.
With features published by media such as Business Week and Fox News, Stephanie Dube Dwilson is an accomplished writer with a law degree and a master's in science and technology journalism. She has written for law firms, public relations and marketing agencies, science and technology websites, and business magazines.