How to Change From DBA to LLC in 5 Steps

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Carlos Serrano
Written by Carlos Serrano
Written byCarlos Serrano
Updated October 31, 2023
Edited by Alexis Konovodoff
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Converting a DBA to an LLC: Key Takeaways

  • The end of the year is an optimal time to transition from a DBA to an LLC because it gives business owners ample time to create a legal barrier that protects their personal assets starting in the new year.

  • Converting a DBA to an LLC offers significant tax advantages, including the ability to choose how your business is taxed. 

  • Changing from a DBA to an LLC can significantly enhance your business’s credibility and professionalism, allowing you to start the year with a fresh image that’s appealing to customers.

DBA vs. LLC: Understanding the Basics

Running a business as a DBA (Doing Business As) is convenient when you’re an entrepreneur fresh on the field. It’s simple, comparatively inexpensive, and lets you operate under a business name as a sole proprietor. 

However, with the year coming to a close, you might find yourself with a business that’s outgrown the limits and risks of a DBA. Now’s the perfect time to start thinking about converting your DBA to a limited liability company (LLC). 

What Is an LLC?

An LLC is a type of business entity that offers more structure and protection than a DBA. It combines elements of partnerships and corporations to benefit small business owners, not the least of which is the protection of personal assets. 

As the name implies, one of the main benefits of a limited liability company is access to liability protection. Your personal assets are separate from your business assets when you form an LLC business structure. In the event of a lawsuit or business debts, you don’t have to worry about your personal assets getting taken away. 

What Is a DBA?

You’re likely already familiar with a DBA, but briefly, a DBA, or “Doing Business As,” is a legal registration allowing business owners to operate under a name different from their own. You’ll sometimes see it referred to as an “assumed business name,” “fictitious business name,” “assumed name,” or “trade name.”[1]

While operating as a DBA is simple and registration is straightforward, it should be noted that DBAs aren’t a legal business structure.[2] This means you’ll have none of the benefits of an LLC, particularly asset protection. 

For this and many other reasons, entrepreneurs find it more valuable to convert a DBA to an LLC when their business grows large enough.

How to Go From DBA to LLC

Converting your DBA to an LLC can redefine your business structure and provide enhanced protection, credibility, and flexibility. Luckily, incorporation doesn’t have to be a complicated process and only takes five key steps.

Understanding these steps is vital to a smooth and successful transition.

1. Choose a Business Name

Before anything else, you should confirm that the business name registered as your DBA name is available as an LLC name. It’s very likely that you thought long and hard about your existing name and would rather keep it than come up with a different name entirely. 

The easiest way to do this is by running a business name search through our free tool. You can search your state’s business name registry and see if your LLC can keep the same name. 

Note that you’ll want to ensure your company name complies with your state’s LLC naming statutes. Depending on your state, you’ll have to follow certain guidelines. Common rules include adding labels such as “LLC” or “Limited Liability Company” to the end of your business name or refraining from using specific words.[3

Depending on your state, you might also need to dissolve your DBA before continuing. Otherwise your LLC paperwork might be rejected. 

2. File Articles of Organization

After determining the availability of your new business name, you must formally create your LLC. Business owners must file formation paperwork with their state. This paperwork is known as the “Articles of Organization,” although you might also see it referred to as a “Certificate of Formation.”

Filing this paperwork officially creates your limited liability company. It will include basic but important information about your business, including: 

  • Business name

  • Contact information

  • Registered agent information

  • Management structure (member- or manager-managed)

  • Member or manager names

  • Mailing address

  • Formation date

Every state has a different filing fee for the Articles of Organization, ranging from as little as $50 to $500.

3. Hire a Registered Agent

A registered agent is an individual or entity that acts on behalf of your business in legal and government matters. They will primarily act as the official point of contact between your LLC and the government or other parties during service of process. 

Most states require that you have a registered agent listed in your formation paperwork. You can act as your LLC’s registered agent, but that’s not recommended. Doing so will place your contact information in the public record and can result in the loss of your privacy, among other disadvantages.

Hiring a third-party registered agent service lets you stay compliant while protecting your personal information.

LLC Operating Agreement on paper

4. Create an LLC Operating Agreement

An LLC Operating Agreement is a business formation document that formalizes the rules that govern your limited liability company’s operations. The information listed in an Operating Agreement includes:

  • Member names

  • Contribution and ownership percentages of each member

  • Voting processes

  • Buy-out provisions

  • Management structure

Not all states require an Operating Agreement, but many LLCs benefit from having one because they can help guide business decisions.

5. Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN)

Before getting down to the business of doing business as an LLC, you need to register for an employer identification number (EIN) from the IRS. 

Think of an EIN like a Social Security number for a business. It’s a nine-digit code the IRS uses to identify your LLC.[4

An EIN is vital for opening a business bank account, hiring employees, and filing your taxes as an LLC. Obtaining an EIN from the Internal Revenue Service is easy but will require filing additional forms. Alternatively, we can take care of that for you while you focus on the important thing — your business.

Why the End of the Year is the Best Time to Go From DBA to LLC

As the end of the year approaches, there’s no better time to shift from a DBA to an LLC. Moving to an actual business structure provides vital benefits, from enhanced liability protection to financial benefits, while giving your business an aura of professionalism. 

Start the Year with Liability Protection

The most compelling reason to convert your DBA to a limited liability company is enhanced liability protection. Safeguarding your personal assets is paramount as an entrepreneur, and the end of the year is a strategic time for fortifying this protection.

Let’s say you do consulting work under a DBA only for a client to allege your work caused them financial losses. Without personal liability protection, your home, savings, and other personal assets could be at risk. 

Acting before December 31 and converting from DBA to LLC creates a legal barrier that secures your financial future in case of a lawsuit or business debts.

Get Ahead of Tax Season

If your business is flourishing under a trade name, converting to an LLC before the end of the year could be an ideal way to optimize your financial strategy. Shifting from DBA to LLC opens the door to a variety of potential tax benefits.

For example, a limited liability company offers the flexibility to choose how you’re taxed, which can lead to substantial savings. Timing your conversion before the year’s end can mean the difference between leveraging those savings this tax year or having to wait until later. 

Boost Your Credibility

As the year draws to a close, it’s the perfect time to consider how converting a DBA to an LLC can build your business’s credibility and professional image. 

Say you’re operating a business under a DBA that relies on making contacts or contracts with other businesses, like marketing or consulting. The kinds of established businesses you’ll want as clients might have reservations about working with companies without a solid business structure.

Timing your transition to an LLC business entity at the end of the year allows you to start a new year with a fresh coat of professionalism. It’s a strategic move that can lead to larger contracts and significant growth.

Stay Compliant and Make Reporting Easier

Don’t be scared off by the administrative requirements of an LLC; the benefits far outweigh the cost of any additional paperwork. Establishing an LLC business structure at the end of the year allows you to kickstart your compliance from day one. 

Converting from a DBA to an LLC during this time allows you ample time to prepare for the upcoming year’s reporting and regulatory requirements. Looking at compliance with a fresh set of eyes lets you catch potential compliance issues and avoid the stress of playing catch-up in the following months. 

Plan a Solid Succession Plan for the New Year

Entrepreneurs planning for long-term growth or laying the foundation for a generation-spanning business must consider how to best solidify a seamless transition of business ownership. Succession planning such as this is made easier by converting from a DBA to an LLC. 

As a business structure, LLCs provide clear pathways to succession that a DBA doesn’t. Part of this is the ability to set a plan down in writing in an LLC Operating Agreement. Converting during the end of the year not only provides peace of mind but also gives you a clear view of the tax advantages available when building a succession plan.

Entrepreneur opening their LLC

Ready to Make Your LLC Official?

Seizing the opportunity to convert your DBA to an LLC is not just a transformation of your business structure; it’s an investment in your future. Taking action now before the year ends can help you fortify your business, protect your personal assets, and position yourself for growth and financial benefits. 

Fortunately, you don’t have to go through the process alone. We can help your business transition smoothly and handle the paperwork while you focus on your passion – your business. Remember, the end of the year isn’t just a deadline; it’s a launchpad for your business’s future success.

Start Your LLC in Minutes
  • Form your business starting at $0 + state fees

  • Protect your personal assets from business debts

  • Maximize tax savings and minimize liabilities

Form My LLC


Can an LLC have multiple DBAs?

Yes, one LLC can have multiple DBAs. It’s a common practice among entrepreneurs and small business owners.[5

Can I add a DBA to my EIN?

Yes, you can use an EIN for your DBA, although it may not be required. Generally speaking, you don’t need an EIN for a DBA if: 

  • Your business operates as a single-member LLC

  • You hire contractors, not employees

  • Your business is a sole proprietorship

What are the advantages of changing my DBA to an LLC?

Converting a DBA to an LLC comes with several advantages, including but not limited to: 

  1. Separating your personal assets from business assets

  2. Accessing key tax benefits, including the ability to choose how your business is taxed

  3. Boosting your business’s credibility and perceived professionalism

What is the difference between an LLC and a DBA?

A DBA is an assumed (fictitious) name under which you conduct business. It’s explicitly not a business entity. An LLC is its own registered business entity. A DBA is comparatively simpler to set up than an LLC, but the latter provides much more liability protection and tax advantages.

Can I use the same EIN from my DBA with my LLC?

Yes, you can use the same EIN for a DBA and an LLC if they’re not separate entities. 

Can I change my DBA to an LLC in Texas?

Texas allows business owners to convert a DBA to an LLC.

How do I change my DBA to an LLC in Florida?

Florida allows business owners to convert a DBA to an LLC. To do this, you should follow these steps: 

  1. Verify your DBA name is available for an LLC

  2. File Articles of Organization

  3. Hire a registered agent

  4. Create an LLC Operating Agreement

  5. Obtain an EIN


  1. Bexar County. “Assumed Business Name/Doing Business As.” Accessed October 20, 2023.

  2. Small Business Trends. “The Difference Between a DBA, Sole Proprietor, Corporation and LLC.” Accessed October 20, 2023.

  3. New York Department of State. “Choosing a Limited Liability Company Name.” Accessed October 20, 2023.

  4. IRS. “Employer ID Numbers.” Accessed October 20, 2023.

  5. Aaron Hall, Attorney. “Can You Use a Single LLC for Multiple DBAs for Multiple Businesses?” Accessed October 24, 2023.

Originally published on October 31, 2023, and last edited on October 31, 2023.
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