How to Get an Indiana DBA Name

Although filing for a DBA is similar nationwide, there are specific rules to follow when getting an Indiana DBA. Read on to learn more.
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Swyft Filings is committed to providing accurate, reliable information to help you make informed decisions for your business. That's why our content is written and edited by professional editors, writers, and subject matter experts. Learn more about how Swyft Filings works, our editorial team and standards, what our customers think of us, and more on our trust page.

Catherine Cohen
Written by Catherine Cohen
Written byCatherine Cohen
Updated January 18, 2024
Edited by Zachary Ace Aiuppa
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If you’re starting a business in Indiana, you may have heard of the term “DBA” or “doing business as.” A DBA is a fictitious name a business owner can use to run their business if, for any reason, they cannot do it under their real name.

It’s not a business structure like an LLC or corporation, but it lets you use a different name when needed. This article will explain a DBA, how to file for a DBA in Indiana, and why you might want one for your LLC.

DBA in Indiana: Key Takeaways

  • A DBA is not a business structure but allows you to use a different business name on paper.

  • Filing for an Indiana DBA involves a name search, filing a fictitious business statement, and filing with the county clerk’s office.

  • A DBA doesn’t offer trademark protection or affect your business’s tax status.

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What Is a DBA?

“Doing business as,” or a DBA, is a fictitious name that a business owner can choose to assign to their business within a specific jurisdiction, different from their business’s legal name. This label is, at times, also called an assumed name or trade name.

A DBA’s purpose may seem obscure initially, but entrepreneurs would want one for several reasons. For example, if your desired official name is already taken within a state the business wishes to operate in, a DBA can be a good way to get around naming limitations.

A DBA is not a business structure like an LLC or corporation. Instead, it lets you use a different name for your business without creating a new legal entity or completely renaming and rebranding.

For example, if you’re a sole proprietor named John Smith and want to operate your Indiana business under the name “Smith’s Supermarket” rather than your real name (since it’s the only legal option for a sole proprietorship), you would file for an Indiana DBA. Alternatively, LLCs that are franchises, for example, McDonald’s, can’t use McDonald’s as their name unless they file for a DBA to use it.

A field of corn at sunset in Indiana

How to File a DBA in Indiana

You may be wondering, “How do I begin?” Filing an Indiana DBA is a three-step process, which we’ll discuss below.

Before you file for a DBA or assumed name, you’ll want to confirm the name availability of the name you’d like to use. This may seem obvious, but for new entrepreneurs, it’s a step that may not be immediately apparent.

You can use Swyft Filings’ free business name search tool to research DBA names and confirm that your preferred name is free to take. You could also check the official Inbiz Indiana business name search resource to find a unique business name that another business within a specific jurisdiction is not already using.[1]

Note, however, that having a DBA name does not offer trademark protection. If you want to use a trademark to protect your business name or products, register it separately.

The state of Indiana requires all DBAs to be unique, emphasizing the significance of a name search. However, there could be exceptions: a name change may be unnecessary if two businesses operate within different counties and industries.

Step 2 — File a Fictitious Business Statement

A fictitious business statement is a document that puts your intention to use a DBA name for your business onto a formal, written declaration. You can file this statement in Indiana with the county clerk’s office.

While this document is optional, the official Indiana Recorders Association (an affiliate of the Association of Indiana Counties) provides this document for your convenience. It lets you file this document online or by downloading, mailing, or delivering it in person. This statement should include your legal business name, the DBA name you want to apply for, and your business address.

Step 3 — File Your DBA With the County Clerk’s Office

If you are an individual (sole proprietor) or through a general partnership, you should fill out and submit forms to the county clerk’s office. The requirements and fees may vary by county slightly.

For example, in Marion County, you should file a Certificate of Assumed Business Name or Doing-Business-As (DBA) form with the Marion County Recorder’s Office. You’ll need to notarize this document with a local notary and check if it meets recording requirements. The fee for filing a DBA in Marion County is $25. Meanwhile, the DBA filing fee in Hamilton County is slightly more, at $26, but filing a Certificate of Assumed Name still applies.[2]

For corporations, nonprofit corporations, Limited Liability Companies (LLC), Limited Partnerships (LP), and Limited Liability Partnerships (LLP), it’s mandatory to file for an assumed name through the Indiana Secretary of State instead of the county clerk’s office.[3]

After you file the DBA and the county clerk’s or Secretary of State’s business services division approves it, you can finally use the new business name. Remember that in some cases, the DBA registration is valid for a specific period before you need to renew it. We offer a comprehensive DBA filing service to help you file for an assumed name correctly if you need assistance.

Some states demand that you publish your DBA name in a local newspaper. In Indiana, if you do business as an individual (sole proprietor), association, or general partnership under an assumed name, some banks and lenders ask you to file a Certificate of Assumed Business Name or Doing-Business-As (DBA) form. However, official Indiana state requirements don’t ask you to publish your DBA name in a local newspaper.

Step 4 — Follow Up

Keeping up with your DBA is crucial for protecting the name of your registered agent from expiration. However, the renewal process and fees can vary from county to county; you may never need to renew in some counties. Indiana does not have set statewide rules or state fees for DBA renewal. To err on the side of caution, check with your local county clerk’s office to determine if you’ll need to renew your DBA and what DBA paperwork may be required.

Indiana DBA Name Restrictions

“Doing business as” is a convenient way to navigate particular naming restrictions and conflicts. However, DBAs aren’t without restrictions, so you should check local limitations that may be relevant to you.

In Indiana, a DBA name cannot be the same or too similar to the name of an existing business DBA. Beyond that, certain common sense principles apply, such as that your name can’t be misleading or imply a specific business structure that doesn’t apply to your business (such as using “Inc.” for a business that isn’t incorporated.)

Also, as mentioned previously, a DBA won’t give you trademark protection, so you should conduct a thorough name search to avoid any possible legal issues. If you want to trademark your DBA name or products and services you do under it, you’ll need to file for that separately. Remember that a DBA is not a business structure like an LLC or corporation, so it does not offer the same legal protections.

DBA Indiana Tax Considerations

A DBA name does not affect your business’s tax status or personal assets, as your tax ID doesn’t change. Your business’s tax obligations to the state will depend on your business structure, whether a sole proprietorship, LLC, corporation, or another business entity. For the most part, a DBA is simply a fictitious name that allows you to operate your business under a different name from your legal one. It does not change your business’s tax status or obligations.

Why Should You Get a DBA?

A DBA can benefit your business in a couple of ways:

  • Sole proprietors can use a DBA to create a new business name without going through the trouble of forming a separate LLC.

  • If they choose not to register a DBA name, a sole proprietorship or partnership must use their own names on any public-facing material. If you want to keep your personal details private, you can register a DBA.

  • If a Limited Liability Company intends to do business under any name other than the LLC’s legal name, it must file a separate DBA for each. Take a fictitious Cluster’s LLC, which wants to open a local produce store called Cluster’s Market; they must apply for a new Indiana-assumed business name to operate legally. This type of filing is mandatory in Indiana for all LLCs and corporations.

  • Having a DBA makes managing business finances more manageable. It does not offer any form of legal protection, but having a different business bank account and credit card for company matters helps to safeguard your personal assets and credit scores.

  • As a trade name, a DBA matters for advertisement and self-promotion. It tells customers what kind of business you have and what you offer. The assumed business name lets people understand who you are and bypasses some naming conflicts with other similar businesses.[4]

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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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FAQs

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

DBA and LLC classifications are pretty different. An LLC is a legal business structure that gives its owners and investors limited liability protection. At the same time, a DBA is a fictitious name that allows you to operate a business under a different name.

How much does getting a DBA cost?

The cost of getting a DBA varies depending on the county in Indiana. The filing fee is reasonable, usually close to $25. However, in some cases, there may be renewal filings. Some states (not Indiana) also demand that you publish your DBA in a local newspaper, which would incur publication fees, too.

Do I need a DBA for my Indiana business?

An assumed name isn’t necessary, but there are circumstances when it’s desirable. If you want to operate your business under a name different from your business’s legal name, you may want to consider a DBA. Before you get one, check with your local county clerk’s office for specific requirements.

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

The terms trade name, assumed name, and “doing business as” are essentially the same. They all refer to the same fictitious name a business can use to operate and promote itself.

How long does a DBA last?

Indiana doesn’t have specific renewal demands, but different counties may have their own rules and renewal pricing, so it’s always worth checking with the local office clerk.

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

Theoretically, you can use as many DBA names as you’d like. However, you must register each DBA name separately, which may incur extra costs.

Is a DBA the same as a trademark?

No, you won’t get any trademark protection with a DBA. To protect a trademark, you need to register your business name as a trademark instead.

Does a DBA affect my business’s tax status?

No, a DBA won’t affect your business’s tax status. Tax obligations that affect your business will depend on its business structure.

Bibliography

  1. Indiana Business One Stop. “Indiana Business Roadmap.” Accessed August 22, 2023.

  2. Indiana Recorders Association. “Standard DBA Form.” Accessed August 22, 2023.

  3. Indiana Government. “How do I file an Assumed Business Name (DBA)?” Accessed August 22, 2023.

  4. Chamber of Commerce. “How to File a DBA in Indiana.” Accessed August 22, 2023.

Originally published on November 13, 2023, and last edited on January 18, 2024.
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