Iowa DBA

Iowa is known for many things, including agriculture. The state has many farms and it produces a lot of products including pork and corn. The Hawkeye State, as it is called thanks to the Red Delicious apples grown in it, is also known for being business-friendly. If you’re a startup, or a longtime entrepreneur looking to do business here, you’re in a good place–the Food Capital of the World.

Businesses looking to gain a huge customer base in Iowa need to have a catchy and appealing business name. After all, good names help businesses establish their presence and identity and leave good impressions on people. However, when forming any business entity, the owners choose a specific name during the registration process, and that chosen name becomes the official—and permanent—legal name of the business.

Thankfully, there’s a way for Iowa businesses to use another name: DBAs. If you own a business and want to use another name that’s more fit for your line of products or services, or just want to establish your own brand, you can use a DBA.


What is DBA?


What are the advantages of a DBA?


What are the disadvantages of a DBA?

DBA Formation

What are the steps to starting a DBA?


What is the cost of forming a DBA?


Frequently asked questions


What Is a DBA?

DBA is an acronym that stands for “doing business as.” It’s an alternate name you can use in place of your company’s actual name. These are primarily used to help businesses establish their unique brands, but they have other benefits too, which we’ll discuss more of below. DBAs are called differently depending on the state. In the Hawkeye State, they are simply referred to as “fictitious names” or “trade names.”


What Are The Advantages Of An Iowa DBA?

DBAs give Iowa-based businesses many benefits. Here’s a quick look at the advantages:

It helps you establish your brand

DBAs are used to give your business a more fitting name. This is especially helpful for sole proprietors since their businesses are registered using their real names. DBAs allow you to establish the brand you want for your business.

Consider the long-running and multi-awarded restaurant Tasty Tacos from Des Moines, Iowa. This Mexican-inspired family-run taco place was founded by Richard and Antonia Mosqueda. Without a DBA, their business would’ve had to include their last name in the signages and posters. But with a DBA, they could use the name they want and that has been engraved in the minds of many taco lovers in Iowa: Tasty Tacos.

It gives you more privacy

DBAs allow business owners to hide their registered business names from promotional materials such as posters, signages, flyers, and so on. In the example above, the Mosqueda family didn’t have to print their name on any promotional material. All they needed was the fictitious name.

While this largely benefits sole proprietors and owners of general partnerships, it also benefits incorporated businesses as well. Orange City-based pizza chain Pizza Ranch, Inc., for instance, operates without the “Inc.” on its name. It is more commonly known among patrons and locals as the “Pizza Ranch.”

It helps you diversify and expand

Businesses looking to try their hand at other ventures or simply expand their line of products and services can use DBAs. Instead of going through the entire process of forming a new business with its own requirements, fees, and paperwork, they can apply for a DBA for their new venture. You can then list this new venture as a part of your primary business.

It helps with franchising

Using a DBA allows franchisees to operate their business under the name associated with the franchise. This helps create a consistent and recognizable brand across multiple branches. 

Pizza Ranch Inc., mentioned above, has over 200 branches across several states, but all of them use the same name. This is how it works: if you buy a franchise from Pizza Ranch, Inc., you will first register the business in the state, with a name that goes like “Pizza Ranch Franchise 202 Davenport.” You will then file a DBA for it so you can use the name “Pizza Ranch.”

It is used for banking purposes

While Iowa doesn’t require businesses to apply for DBAs, most banks do. This is because fictitious names can be used for bank accounts. Having separate bank accounts allows you to manage your personal and business finances easily.

And if you have several ventures, each with its own DBA, you can open separate bank accounts for all of them individually. This allows you to segregate the finances for each venture you have. It also lessens the risk of mismanaging your finances.


What Are The Disadvantages Of An Iowa DBA?

While DBAs offer you many benefits, they do not have any downsides that could negatively affect your business. DBAs have some limitations, however, and not knowing them could prove disadvantageous.

For one, DBAs do not provide personal asset protection from lawsuits. In the event that your business gets sued for valid reasons, such as negligence, the court can force you to pay penalties or dues using your personal assets if you lose. Iowa LLCs and corporations provide asset protection for their owners, but sole proprietorships and general partnerships do not. If your business is the latter, get insured so your assets are protected.

Moreover, Iowa DBAs have to meet certain naming requirements before they can be approved. While your chosen fictitious name has to be unique and creative, they must not include the following:

  • Words normally used for governmental agencies, such as “FBI,” “Justice Department,” “IRS,” “Treasury,” and so on
  • Words such as “attorney,” “bank,” “university,” and so on unless the business using the DBA has a licensed person on staff

DBA Formation

How To Get A DBA In Iowa

The process for getting DBAs in Iowa is straightforward, but the steps vary depending on your business’s structure. Each type of business entity has specific requirements and procedures to follow when applying for a DBA.

If you run a Sole Proprietorship or General Partnership:

Search for your preferred DBA name

First, you need to create a unique name for your business and search for its availability on the Iowa Secretary of State’s website. While Iowa doesn’t restrict multiple businesses from using the same DBA names, the website will inform you if someone is already using the name you desire for your business. That said, still make sure that the name you choose is unique and accurately represents the brand you want for your business.

File your Iowa DBA with the county recorder

Next, after verifying your DBA name’s availability, download and complete the Trade Name Registration form available on the Secretary of State’s website. Submit it to the county recorder’s office where you do business, either by mail or in-person, along with your payment for the filing fee.

If you run an LLC, Corporation, or other incorporated business:

Search for your preferred DBA name

Come up with a unique name for your business and search for its availability with the Iowa Secretary of State’s website. The state will tell you if others are using the name that you want. If you find that several businesses are using the same name, especially if they are located near your business’s area, consider choosing a different name to avoid confusion and ensure your brand stands out.

Remember that several businesses can use the same DBA name, so make sure that the name you choose is unique and distinctive. By avoiding common or heavily used names, you can ensure your business has its own identity and is easily recognizable among your competitors.

File your Iowa DBA with the Secretary of State

Next, file your new DBA with the Iowa Secretary of State. Visit their website, complete the Fictitious Name Resolution form, then file it in person or online. Once your Iowa DBA is registered, you can use it for your business for as long as necessary. Iowa DBAs do not expire.


How Much Does A DBA Cost In Iowa?

Iowa DBAs are more affordable compared to DBAs in other states. They are priced differently depending on your business’s s tructure, however. 

For example, if you run a sole proprietorship or partnership, the filing fee is $7 for the first page and $5 for every succeeding page. If you run an LLC or corporation, the filing fee is $5. In Iowa, you only need to pay the filing fee once as DBAs here do not expire.


Frequently Asked Questions About A DBA

Here are the most commonly asked questions about forming a DBA:

Iowa takes one to two weeks to completely process DBA applications, both online, by mail, or in person. You can expedite the process by paying for the Secretary of State’s expedited services:

  • $50 for two-day processing
  • $15 for five-day processing

Note that Iowa will only process DBA applications during business days.

Yes. You can have as many DBAs as you need in Iowa. Only for as long as you go through the whole process of searching for name availability, and filing them with the correct office.

No. DBAs do not provide any protection for your personal assets. They are just aliases you can use for your business. Unless your business entity is an LLC or corporation, you should get insured to protect your assets from lawsuits.

Yes, Iowa allows changes or amendments to DBAs. However, these are limited to changes in addresses or the owners of the DBA. You can make changes to your DBA by filling out a new Trade Name Registration form and checking the boxes that apply to you. Changes to DBAs are free.

Yes. Iowa DBAs do not expire and don’t need renewing, but they can be canceled in case you want to stop using them. You can cancel them by filling out the Trade Name Registration form and checking on the dissolve trade name box. DBA cancellations do not cost anything.