How to Get a Washington, DC, DBA Name

Although filing for a DBA is similar nationwide, there are specific rules to follow when getting a Washington DC DBA. Read on to learn more.
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Carlos Serrano
Written by Carlos Serrano
Written byCarlos Serrano
Updated February 29, 2024
Edited by Alexis Konovodoff
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In Washington, DC, you’ll choose a legal name for your business as part of completing your formation documents. However, you can obtain a Washington, DC, DBA if you want to use a different name for branding or other business purposes.

A DBA essentially gives a District of Columbia business access to a fictitious business name under which it can legally operate. Following the steps outlined in this article, you can get one of these names for an existing or new business.

DBA in Washington, DC: Key Takeaways

  • A DBA is a fictitious business name called a “trade name” in Washington, DC.

  • You can file for as many trade names as you like online or by sending applications to the Department of Licensing and Consumer Protection.

  • Each Washington, DC, DBA application costs $55 in filing fees.

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What Is a DBA?

A DBA, which stands for “doing business as,” is an alternative or fictitious name that business owners can create for their companies. It’s also called an “assumed name” or “trade name,” depending on the state. 

This name doesn’t replace the official name you used when completing your formation documents. It’s simply an extra name you can use in place of your company’s legal one.

You may need a Washington, DC, DBA for several reasons. For instance, companies may not want to include terms like “corp” or “limited liability company” in every instance of their name. So, they’ll use a DBA. That fictitious name does away with the extra terminology, making it better for branding.

A DBA doesn’t impact your business structure. If you have a limited liability company (LLC) when you apply for your DBA, you’ll still have the same business entity after you receive the name.  

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How to File a DBA in Washington, DC

If a DBA or “trade name” sounds like a good idea, the application is fairly simple and only requires a handful of steps.

Your first step comes before you apply for your Washington, DC. DBA. You must check that the name you want is available. 

As with regular business names, a “doing business as” name needs to be unique, meaning you can’t use a name another business in DC uses.

To ensure that your desired name is unique, you can run a search for it via the Department of Licensing and Consumer Protection (DLCP) website. Its database contains every company name currently used in DC, so an empty result likely means you have a good candidate for your new assumed name.

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2. File Your DBA With the DLCP

In some states, you must file a fictitious business name statement with your county clerk as part of your DBA paperwork. You don’t have to do this in Washington, DC.

Instead, you must file a Trade Name Registration Form with the DLCP online or by mail. There are no additional requirements to file with a country clerk’s office. 

If you decide to file by mail, you must obtain the TN-1 Trade Name Registration Form from the DLCP and complete, date, and sign it. Only businesses currently in good standing with the state can do this.

Upon completion, file the form, alongside a $55 filing fee, to the following address:

Department of Licensing and Consumer Protection

Corporations Division

P.O. Box 712300

Philadelphia, PA 19171-2300

You’ll notice that this address is in Philadelphia rather than the District of Columbia. It’s still the official mailing address if you need a Washington, DC, trade name.

If you’d rather complete your DBA filing online, you can do so via Washington DC’s CorpOnline service

3. Follow Up

Thankfully, Washington, DC, doesn’t require you to publish your registered trade name once you receive it, so your small business doesn’t have to worry about contacting newspapers to fulfill a publication requirement. However, some areas may require follow-up.

Renewing Your Trade Name

You’re legally obligated to renew your trade name by April 1 of the second year of your registration, followed by renewing it every two years afterward. Following that first renewal, you have no later than September 1 of a given year to complete the renewal, or you’ll face a $55 late renewal fee.

Thankfully, renewal is fairly simple. Just complete the TN-2 Trade Name Renewal Form and send it, along with a $55 filing fee, online or to the address you used when filing for your trade name.

Amending Your Trade Name

Your small business may wish to amend its trade name, which requires completing the TN-4 Trade Name Amendment form. You’ll need details about your original filing date and your trade name file number.

As with the other forms, this one carries a $55 filing fee and can be submitted online or by mail to the DLCA.

Canceling Your Trade Name

Your claim to your trade name is automatically canceled if you fail to renew the name before the end of the previously stated deadline. However, if you’d prefer to cancel your name earlier, you can do so with the TN-3 Trade Name Cancellation form.

This form can be submitted online or by mail with a $55 filing fee.

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Washington, DC, DBA Name Restrictions

Though your Washington, DC, DBA isn’t a business structure or entity, you still have to follow naming rules when choosing your name.[1] It’s also worth noting that having a DBA doesn’t automatically grant you a trademark on the name — you have to file for that separately.

With that said, the following are the rules you must follow when choosing your trade name:

  • Must be distinguishable from any other domestic or foreign filing entity that’s registered in Washington, DC

  • May not be the same as any other registered trade name in the state

  • Can’t be the same as your corporate name

  • Can’t imply that your business is an agency that’s acting on behalf of any state or federal agencies

  • Can’t include an entity qualifier, such as “Inc.” or “LLC”

If you follow these rules, your LLC or corporation should have no problems registering a trade name in the District of Columbia.

DBA Washington, DC, Tax Considerations

You may wonder if creating a “doing business as” name affects your taxes, given that you’re creating a new name under which your company can operate. Thankfully, it doesn’t for a simple reason — a DBA isn’t a business entity.

When you created your business, you selected a specific business structure, such as an LLC or C Corporation. That structure remains in place once you have a DBA, meaning you still pay taxes in the same way. 

Having a trade name also doesn’t affect your tax structure on the federal level. For instance, you don’t need to apply for a new Employer Identification Number (EIN) tax ID when you get a DBA.[2] Your EIN is linked to your legal business name, with the DBA simply being a fictitious name you can use as an alternative.

Why Should You Get a DBA?

Though getting a DBA is fairly straightforward, it’s still worth understanding why you might want to have one in the first place.

  • Branding: You can use a trade name to effectively rebrand your business without having to build a new company.

  • Banking: Somebody with a sole proprietorship may find it easier to get a business bank account when using a trade name.

  • Privacy: Using a trade name shields your actual name from being directly associated with your business, which is useful to sole proprietors.

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  • Gain Privacy: Hide your personal name and details when marketing your business.

  • Improve Branding: Choose a DBA that easily informs your audience about what you have to offer.

  • Expand Services: Operate multiple businesses without creating separate entities for each one.

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What’s the difference between an LLC and a DBA?

An LLC is a business entity type. It determines how you build your business and your tax obligations. A DBA isn’t a business entity. It’s simply a fictitious name for your company.

How much does getting a DBA cost?

Filing for a Washington, DC, trade name costs $55, as does renewing your trade name. If your renewal is late, you must pay a $55 penalty fee.

Do I need a DBA for my Washington, DC, business?

You don’t need a DBA for your Washington, DC, business, especially as the state allows you to use your official business name without the added “LLC,” “Inc,” or similar terms without a DBA. However, you may still choose to get one, especially if you’d like to use a name that’s substantially different from your official name.

What’s the difference between a trade name, an assumed name, and a DBA name?

There is no difference because the names are generally used as synonyms. For example, Washington, DC, uses the term “trade name,” which is the same as a DBA name.

How long does a DBA last?

Your Washington, DC, DBA lasts until April 1 of the second year after you receive it, with each new renewal giving you an extra two years.

Is there a limit to the number of DBA names I can have?

Washington, DC, has no limit on the number of trade names a business entity or sole proprietor can register.

Is a DBA the same as a trademark?

No, a DBA is not the same thing as a trademark in Washington, DC.

Does a DBA affect my business’s tax status?

Having a DBA in Washington, DC, does not affect your company’s tax status at the state or federal levels.


  1. DC Department of Licensing and Consumer Protection. “Trade Name.” Accessed November 8, 2023.

  2. Internal Revenue Service. “Do You Need a New EIN?” Accessed November 8, 2023.

Originally published on February 29, 2024, and last edited on February 29, 2024.
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