How to Get a Texas DBA Name

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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 byCatherine Cohen
Zachary Ace Aiuppa
Edited byZachary Ace Aiuppa
Updated November 13, 2023

If you’re considering setting up a small business in Texas that won’t go by the same as your legal company name, you may want to know how to choose a different business name without creating a new company.

A “doing business as” or DBA is the way to do just that. It lets your company operate under an alternate name with no direct changes to the company. This guide will help you through all the steps of obtaining a DBA in Texas.

DBA in Texas: Key Takeaways

  • A DBA is not a business structure. Instead, it allows you to operate under a different name.

  • Filing for a DBA in Texas involves finding a name, filing for a DBA, and submitting a certificate, all usually done at the county level.

  • Having a DBA won’t give you any trademark protections or alter your tax status.

What Is a DBA?

When setting up a business, you might need to register a DBA or “doing business as.” It’s an assumed name for your Texas business that lets customers know what you do. A DBA isn’t its own legal entity but a fictitious name to use for specific purposes under your existing business structure. The current structure could be anything from a sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, or corporation.

If you’re a sole proprietor, don’t expect to get any additional legal protection by filing for a DBA. It won’t change the structure of your business in any legal or financial matter. This means that it also won’t give you any benefits of a specific business structure — as it isn’t one.

However, having a DBA can be helpful with branding and expanding the customer base. It means you can operate or advertise your company under a different name, which may be more appropriate for different target markets.[1]

For example, let’s say you own a tech repair company called “Jenny’s Tech LLC,” but you want to market a specific line of quick repair services. You could file a DBA for “QuickFix,” giving you a marketable name to operate this specialized service under the same legal umbrella as “Jenny’s Tech LLC.” This name will make your business fresh without creating a separate legal entity that would incur a much more significant investment and administrative fees than a DBA.

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How to File a DBA in Texas

Before looking into the details of filing a fictitious business name in Texas, entrepreneurs should take a moment to get an idea of what’s involved. In essence, you need to do three things:

  • Make sure the name you want is not already in use.

  • Fill out the Fictitious Business Statement Affidavit at your county clerk’s office.

  • Advertise your new Texas DBA name in an approved local publication, depending on the rules in your area.

Now that you know what needs to be done, here is a step-by-step guide with more details.

Before dealing with all the administrative steps of setting up a DBA, there’s one major preliminary step you must take: making sure the name you’ve picked is free to take and effective enough to represent your business. It may sound straightforward, but it’s a more involved step than it may appear.

To do a name search, you have a few solid options. One is to use our free business name search tool, which can quickly tell you if someone else has already taken the name you were considering. You can also use Texas’s official business name search resource to double-check if any other businesses have the same or similar names.

As you conduct research, you may wonder, can multiple businesses use the same DBA name? Yes, they can. A DBA is not exclusive to one business in Texas, and numerous enterprises can share a DBA.[2] You can register a name you like, even if someone else uses it. On the other hand, it also means that you get no exclusivity guarantees for marketing and promotion in cases of name conflicts. That might need to be clarified for customers. Try to choose a name that stands out among competitors.

A DBA doesn’t protect the business’s name like trademarking does. You must go through a separate process to officially trademark your business name. Typically, a DBA serves as an alias for your business without the legal safeguards of trademarking.

Step 2 — File a Fictitious Business Statement

Some states expect you to file a “Fictitious Business Statement” as part of the DBA name registration. However, in Texas, this step has been replaced by filing an “Assumed Name Certificate,” which serves the same purpose of providing legal clarity and transparency. The Assumed Name Certificate is mandatory when registering a DBA name in Texas.

Even if it is not required in Texas for your particular business structure or the county you are operating in, it can still be a good idea to file a Fictitious Business Statement to prevent legal problems in the future or if you’d like to expand to other states.

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

Once you determine a free DBA name, the next logical step is to file an Assumed Name Certificate. This document is an official record that your business will be operating under a different name than its legal name.

Filing this statement offers transparency and lets customers and other companies know who is behind the DBA name. Secondly, it’s often required before you can open a business bank account with your DBA name. Thirdly, it proves that you abide by Texas state laws when naming a business.

In Texas, you can usually file an Assumed Name Certificate at the county clerk’s office within the county where you’ll be doing business. This applies specifically to sole proprietorships, general partnerships, estates, and Real Estate Investment Trusts. Each county may have different requirements for filing, so check with your local county clerk’s office to be sure. If your business spans multiple counties, you must do it in each one. Some counties offer online filing, while others expect an in-person visit or require you to go to a notary to file the documents.

However, corporations, limited liability companies (LLCs), limited partnerships, professional associations, limited liability partnerships, and foreign filing entities must file a new Assumed Name Certificate with the Texas Secretary of State.[3]

This form will ask for details like your legal name, company’s assumed name, office address or registered agent’s information, P.O. Box, contact information, and business structure. Filing fees are usually between $25 and $50, depending on the county. You can pay in various ways, such as cash, check, or credit card.

Step 4 — Publish Your DBA Name

Texas does not legally oblige you to officially publish your DBA name in some publication on a state level. However, some county administrations may ask for it. Look at your local county clerk’s office’s website or contact them to ensure you follow the proper regulations. If your county requires publishing the name, they’ll inform you about the approved local newspapers where you can do it.

This isn’t a common practice in the state of Texas, but certain counties will require you to submit a public notice of your business’s new name. This can include an announcement in one of the local newspapers, as mentioned, as well as in the official gazette. This is to let everyone in the community know you’ll be operating under a different name.

Failing to follow the rules could meet you with hefty fines or even losing your registered name, so it’s best to double-check everything before submitting your application. That way, you can keep running your business without any issues.

Step 5 — Follow Up

Keep in mind that DBA registration in Texas isn’t a one-and-done task. Unlike an official business name, a fictitious business name is time-limited and demands renewal after a set period. Depending on your contract, this is between one and ten years in Texas.

Once your DBA agreement is about to expire, you must renew it with the same office where you registered it. The renewal fee is the same as the registration fee, which is around $25. You can also cancel your DBA at any point for a $10 fee for the Abandonment of the Assumed Name Certificate.[4]

If you don’t complete this step on time, you may lose the legal ability to do business under the assumed name in Texas.

Texas DBA Name Restrictions

When creating a DBA name in Texas, keep certain restrictions in mind. Establishing a DBA is a great way to operate under a different name, but bear in mind that having one does not create a separate legal entity and, therefore, doesn’t offer trademark protection for your business entity name.

Also, some words are restricted in Texas if you don’t have the appropriate licenses. You shouldn’t use words in your name that indicate a business structure that doesn’t apply to your business, such as using “Inc.” if you aren’t running an incorporated company. Your fictitious name also can’t be misleading or confusing.

Unsurprisingly, your DBA cannot be the same as your legal name. An assumed name certificate doesn’t give you any right to use the assumed name in a way that violates the law, infringes on the rightful use of the name by others, and won’t prevent anyone else from filing the same assumed name or using the name to form a new business entity.

DBA Texas Tax Considerations

If you have a Doing Business As in Texas, your tax obligations remain the same, as it doesn’t change your business structure. It also has no direct effect on your personal assets. You’ll still need to pay taxes using your legal business name. You may need to let the IRS know about your Texas DBA name when filing taxes, so it’s a good idea to talk to an experienced tax specialist familiar with Texas regulations to err on the side of caution. In this way, you can avoid potential compliance issues if any confusion or irregularities arise.

Why Should You Get a DBA?

Adding a DBA to a business arsenal in Texas benefits small business owners and sole proprietors who want to diversify their income. Setting up a new legal entity can be costly and time-consuming, especially without the backbone of a major corporation. With a DBA, you can still explore new ventures and markets without the overhead of creating another company.

An assured name is also valuable for your privacy, as having an alias adds an extra privacy layer between you, your personal assets, and any potentially malevolent third parties.

An assured business name saves you time when setting up a business bank account and enhances professionalism and marketing reach when dealing with clients and vendors. Instead of paying out to individuals, the money can be transferred directly to your official business name without said name necessarily appearing on your marketing and promo material.

On that note, a DBA allows you to create a unique brand identity easily recognizable by your potential customers. You can market products and services under a memorable name that resonates with the people you are trying to reach. It’s an ideal strategy for businesses looking to establish a brand without getting bogged down in legal and financial complexities associated with trademarking a name. Although, it doesn’t grant the same benefits as trademarking.

Finally, a Doing Business As (DBA) in Texas can make it simpler to follow local licensing and permitting regulations. A few cities and counties need firms to carry out activities beneath an authorized trademark, and a DBA makes sure that all your operations are in line with the law and that you’re on high terms with the authorities.

Ready to File for a DBA in Texas?

A DBA may not have as many apparent benefits as specific business structures, but there are many good reasons to want one, whether a small business or a significant corporation.

When you are sure that DBA filing in Texas is the right business decision, we can help you. A filing service can take the complexity out of paperwork filing and make it easy to focus on your passion for creating and nurturing your business. With online filing help, you can be confident that your DBA forms will go through to the proper authorities correctly and quickly, so you can put the tedious administrative tasks aside.

FAQs

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

LLC stands for limited liability company and is a way to set up a business that protects your assets. A DBA, or Doing Business As, isn’t the same thing as an LLC; it’s just a different name for a business (including an LLC) to use when it operates.

How much does getting a DBA cost?

In Texas, the DBA filing cost can be quite different depending on which county you’re in — usually ranging from as low as $15 for a single owner to as much as $50, but it averages around $25. To get the most up-to-date information about fees, it’s best to check with your local county clerk’s office.

Do I need a DBA for my Texas business?

You don’t need a DBA for any business, but getting a DBA has several benefits. It gives you more freedom with branding by allowing your business to have a different name. Having one also makes it easier to open a bank account just for your business needs to separate personal finances from business finances.

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

In Texas and many other states, the words “trade name,” “assumed name,” and “doing business as” are essentially synonymous. They refer to a name that is different from the legal name of a business, for example, if you have set up a limited liability company (LLC) but want to do business under another name. An example would be a company named “Texan TechTastic LLC” using the DBA of “TexanTech.”

How long does a DBA last?

In Texas, registering a different name is valid for ten years. After this time passes, you’ll need to file some paperwork and pay the renewal fee if you want to use that name legally. Don’t let it expire so your business can keep operating with that assumed name, but you can still cancel the DBA at any time if the need arises.

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

In Texas, businesses can register as many Doing Business As (DBA) names as they’d like. Every DBA must be filed and renewed separately, though, with its own filing fees. Factor in the costs of each one if you need multiple DBAs.

Is a DBA the same as a trademark?

An assumed name can’t help you protect your business name in Texas. You’ll need to register a trademark to guarantee exclusive rights to the name. Only a trademark provides legal protection for your trade name or logo.

Does a DBA affect my business’s tax status?

If you have a DBA in Texas, it will not change your business’s tax obligations. Your taxes still depend on the type of business you operate under (like an LLC or corporation) and not the name of your business. Both federal and state taxes still apply.

Bibliography

  1. Bexar County Clerk’s Office. “Obtain a DBA.” Accessed August 23, 2023.

  2. Texas Secretary of State. “Name Filings FAQs.” Accessed August 23, 2023.

  3. Texas Government. “Start a Business.” Accessed August 23, 2023.

  4. Chamber of Commerce. “How to File a DBA in Texas.” Accessed August 23, 2023.

Originally published on November 13, 2023, and last edited on November 13, 2023.

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