How to Get a Wisconsin DBA Name

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Carlos Serrano
Written by Carlos Serrano
Written byCarlos Serrano
Updated January 18, 2024
Edited by Alexis Konovodoff
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A DBA (“doing business as”), or a “fictitious business name,” allows you to conduct business under a name different from your legal company name. Obtaining a DBA involves several steps, but this article breaks down the process of getting a Wisconsin DBA to help you on your business journey.

DBA in Wisconsin: Key Takeaways

  • Wisconsin business entities must file for a DBA if they wish to operate under a name different from their legal business name.

  • A Wisconsin DBA is not a business structure but an alternative name for an existing business or part of it.

  • The name of your DBA must be distinguishable from the names of other registered business entities.

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What Is a DBA?

A DBA stands for “doing business as,” but you’ll also find it as an “assumed name” and “fictitious name.” In Wisconsin, it’s known as a “trade name” or “state trademark,” which also describes its function.

A Wisconsin trade name is used to advertise your business under a different name than its legal name. It’s useful when you wish to add a brand to your company and market the products and services with a name that includes both your and the brand’s identity.

While a Wisconsin DBA isn’t a business structure and won’t impact it, any business type can use it. Whether you own a Wisconsin limited liability company (LLC), general partnership, or sole proprietorship, you can give your business a new name different from the legal name you registered with the state of Wisconsin.

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How to File a DBA in Wisconsin

While a Wisconsin DBA isn’t necessary for your new business, it’s useful for various reasons. However, regardless of the state, a DBA filing involves:

  • Conducting a business name search

  • Delivering some paperwork online or in person at the county clerk’s office

  • Paying a filing fee

The following sections will break down each step so that you know what to expect before beginning the filing process.

Like you might’ve done for your business name, you must check name availability for your Wisconsin DBA. 

While Wisconsin allows multiple business entities to have the same or similar assumed name, you must ensure you pick a unique name that doesn’t match any legal name in the state.[1] That means your DBA must not be the same as the name of an already registered LLC, corporation, or sole proprietorship.

That entails conducting a business name search or, in the case of Wisconsin, a trade name search. Our free business name search tool can help you achieve this. 

In addition, you must check whether another business entity hasn’t trademarked the DBA name. You can do that through the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions trademark portal. Keep in mind that the state of Wisconsin doesn’t offer trademark protection to your DBA, so if you’d like this added protection, you can trademark your DBA with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

Step 2 — File a Fictitious Business Statement

After selecting a DBA for your business, you’ll probably need to file a fictitious business name statement to run your business under the alternative name you chose. 

As a business located in Wisconsin, you can file the statement online through the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions or in person at this address:

Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions

Division of Corporate and Consumer Services

4822 Madison Yards Way, North Tower

Madison, WI 53705

In the statement, you need to state the following:

  • The fictitious name you want to register

  • Whether you’re submitting a DBA registration or renewal

  • Your business address

  • The date of the name’s first usage, which must be within the next 30 days

  • Your employer identification number (EIN) or social security number (SSN) if you’re a sole proprietor

Once you fill out the form, you must get it notarized. You also need to provide a $15 filing fee.

Step 3 — Follow Up

Keeping your Wisconsin DBA active requires regular renewals. Thankfully, renewing your DBA is done the same as registering. You just need to state that it’s a DBA renewal instead of a registration. The renewal fee is also the same as the filing fee — $15. 

You must renew every ten years, and you can start the process within the last six months of the term.

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Wisconsin DBA Name Restrictions

All states have general and specific restrictions for entrepreneurs regarding DBA registration. 

As mentioned, a DBA isn’t a business structure, so it can not include any business identifiers like “LLC” or “Corp.” In addition, words that indicate illegal activity, affiliation with government agencies without proper government approval, or professional services without the right business licenses aren’t permitted. 

DBA Wisconsin Tax Considerations

A DBA usually doesn’t affect your business tax status and responsibilities. Your business structure is what determines these aspects. 

However, it’s essential to know that while business entities like LLCs protect the owner’s personal assets, that isn’t the case with DBAs. There’s no distinction between a DBA’s assets and the owner’s personal assets.

Why Should You Get a DBA?

Now that you know what a DBA is and how to file it in Wisconsin, it’s time to discuss its many benefits:

  • An assumed name allows sole proprietors and partnerships to change their name into something else and protect their privacy.

  • With a trade name, you might be able to open a business bank account in some banks more smoothly.

  • Multiple DBAs allow you to separate your products and services into different markets and target different audiences.

Register Your Wisconsin DBA in Minutes
  • 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?

The main difference between an LLC and a DBA is that an LLC is a business structure, while a DBA is only an alternative name. A DBA doesn’t have any features or responsibilities of a business structure.

How much does getting a DBA cost?

The pricing of DBA registration varies by state. In Wisconsin, the filing fee is $15 and keeps your DBA registered for ten years.

Do I need a DBA for my Wisconsin business?

No business type requires a DBA. However, if you wish to operate your business under a name different from its legal name, you must register it with the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions.

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

There’s typically no difference between a trade name, an assumed name, and a DBA. These terms are interchangeable and refer to the same — a name used to operate your business under a name different from the one registered with the state. In Wisconsin, a DBA is better known as a trade name.

How long does a DBA last?

A DBA in Wisconsin lasts ten years. After this term expires, you must renew it through the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions for another $15. You can renew it in the last six months before the expiration date.

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

In Wisconsin, you can create as many DBA names as you want. However, note that every new DBA requires separate filing and is subject to the filing and renewal fees. Typically, business owners opt for two or three DBAs.

Is a DBA the same as a trademark?

A DBA and a trademark are different business terms that enjoy different rights. A DBA is simply an alternative name for your already established business or an additional name you use to refer to a part of your business. Unlike a trademark, a DBA doesn’t have legal protection that ensures no one else claims the name for their business. However, a trademark can be a product, label, logo, or any other mark exclusive to one company.[2] 

Does a DBA affect my business’s tax status?

A DBA doesn’t affect your tax requirements, regardless of whether your company is in Wisconsin or elsewhere. Your tax status depends on your tax ID issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). In other words, it depends on whether you’re running an LLC, sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation and not if you have a DBA.


  1. Wisconsin State Legislature. “Trademarks, Badges and Labeled Products.” Accessed August 21, 2023.

  2. State of Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions. “Trademark General Information.“ Accessed August 21, 2023.

Originally published on November 02, 2023, and last edited on January 18, 2024.
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