DBA in Missouri
People associate business names with what the company that owns them offers. For instance, companies like Hallmark Cards, Panera Bread, and Lowe’s have spent many years establishing themselves as big names in their industries.
New Missouri businesses looking to establish their brands early on need to use good names that will have a significant impact on consumers. Sadly, names are limited by the actual structure the businesses have—sole proprietors and general partnerships use their owners’ legal names for the business, while LLCs and corporations use the legal name they registered with when it was being formed.
Thankfully, there’s a way for you to operate using a name that matches your target branding: Doing Business As. In this article, we’ll discuss what that is and why you should get one for your business in Missouri.
What Is a DBA?
DBA is an acronym for “doing business as.” It’s a fictitious name or alias your business can use instead of its legal name. Businesses of all structures can apply for and use DBAs for several reasons.
DBAs are not separate entities and do not replace the business’s original name and registration. They simply allow you to use another name to do business with. For example, sole proprietor Karen Williams wants to use a DBA “Missouri Grilled Barbecue” for her diner and files for it. Once the state gives its approval, the diner that had a legal name, “Karen Williams,” will now be able to operate as “Missouri Grilled Barbecue.” The business’s legal name will still be “Karen Williams.”
What Are The Advantages Of A DBA In Missouri?
Businesses can benefit from DBAs in a number of ways. Here’s a quick look at the advantages Missouri your businesses can get when you use fictitious names.
Branding becomes easier
DBAs allow businesses to use the name you want for your business—one that reflects your business’s identity, values, products, and services. For example, sole proprietor James Woods owns a cafe and is looking for ways to establish the cafe faster. His cafe can use DBA names like “Gateway Coffee House” or “Wooden Spoon” instead of “James Woods.”
Better privacy in business
Using DBAs allows you to hide behind a layer of privacy. This is especially beneficial for sole proprietors, as they won’t have to put their legal names on promotional materials like posters, pamphlets, and flyers. DBAs won’t protect your personal assets, but they will at least hide personal information you’d want to hide from the public eye.
It helps businesses diversify
Businesses looking to diversify and try their hand at new product lines or services can use DBAs for these new projects. A company focusing on shirts and jeans named “Trendy Clothes LLC,” for example, can try selling footwear under the fictitious name “Super Shoes” and bags under the DBA “Pack Your Bags.”
For banking purposes
Most banks require businesses to use DBAs. Doing so allows you to open separate bank accounts for each venture, letting you segregate the finances your businesses have. This also allows entrepreneurs like you to separate personal bank accounts from your business, minimizing the risk of mishandling money.
What Are The Disadvantages Of A DBA In Missouri?
DBAs do not have serious disadvantages that could negatively affect business. That said, they have limitations that could become disadvantageous if you don’t know them. Here’s a quick look at the disadvantages of DBAs:
Doesn’t protect personal assets
DBAs do not provide personal asset protection the way Missouri LLCs and corporations do. This means that if a sole proprietorship or general partnership using a DBA gets sued for some reason, such as negligence, the court can force their owners to pay up using their personal assets.
Just another name for a business
DBAs are fictitious names used as aliases. They are not separate entities. This means that if someone sues your venture which uses a DBA, your primary business will be the one receiving the impact.
You cannot use any name
DBAs have to be creative and reflect your business’s identity. But they still have to meet Missouri’s standards for naming. This means you cannot use just any name you can think of. Missouri prohibits using the following for DBAs in the state:
- Words or terms used for or related to financial institutions. These include “bank,” “banking,” “credit union,” and so on.
- Words and suffixes such as “Incorporated,” “Inc.,” and “LLC” unless these are your business’s actual structure.
How To Get A DBA In Missouri
Next, let’s discuss how to get a DBA for your business in Missouri. Below are the important steps you need to consider.
Check for your name’s availability
Missouri allows several businesses to use a similar DBA name. This means anyone might have the same name as yours, no matter how unique it may be. That said, your preferred DBA must still meet Missouri’s naming requirements. What’s more, it has to reflect your business’s identity uniquely.
Visit the Missouri Secretary of State’s Business Entity Search website to check if the name you want is already being used, and if it is, how many are using it. This is because if more businesses use the same (or broadly similar) DBA, that DBA might not be that effective in establishing your unique brand anymore.
File with the Missouri Secretary of State
Finally, file your DBA with the Missouri Secretary of State and pay the filing fee. You can fill out the Registration of Fictitious Name form and submit it by mail, or you can apply for the DBA online via the Missouri Corporations Online Portal.
The form will require you to provide details such as the name you are registering, your contact information, and your charter number. You will also be asked whether you are filing for a DBA registration, renewing an existing DBA, amending some details, or simply making corrections.
How Much Is A DBA In Missouri?
Missouri DBAs are very cheap. Filing a DBA with the state costs a mere $7. DBAs in Missouri last for five years from the date it was registered. Renewals cost $7 each.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the most commonly asked questions about forming a DBA:
The Missouri Secretary of State takes about 5-10 business days to process DBA applications. They do not offer expedited services.
Yes. You can have as many DBAs as you want as long as you go through the process of filing for each one, pay the registration fees, and renew them on time.
No. DBAs are not meant to provide personal asset protection against lawsuits. Entrepreneurs running sole proprietorships and general partnerships must get insurance to protect personal assets from lawsuits. LLCs and corporations provide such protections by default.
No. Missouri does not demand taxes for DBAs, which only allow businesses to change names. DBAs are non-taxable, but entrepreneurs must pay $7 when applying for them and $7 for each renewal.
Yes, but these are limited to changes in addresses. You can make such changes online or by filling out a Registration of Fictitious Name form and ticking on the amendment box, then submitting it to the Secretary of State. Amendments cost $7.
Businesses that wish to change the DBA name or ownership are required to register a new DBA instead.
Yes. Missouri allows businesses to cancel or withdraw DBAs. You can do this online via the Missouri Secretary of State’s website or by filling out the Cancellation of Registration of Fictitious Name form and then submitting it to the Secretary of State. There’s no cancellation fee.
No. DBAs and Trademarks are very different from one another, especially in their purposes. DBAs are fictitious names or aliases businesses can use in place of their actual, legal business name. Trademarks, on the other hand, are intellectual property registrations meant to protect your business brands. The former allows entrepreneurs to hide behind a layer of privacy, and the latter helps you keep your intellectual property from being stolen or illegally copied.