DBA in Oklahoma
A business’s legal name largely depends on its structure. LLCs and corporations, for example, use the business name they listed upon registering with the Secretary of State. On the other hand, sole proprietorships use their proprietors’ legal names for the business.
For businesses in Oklahoma to use another name, they have to file what is called a “DBA” in the state. This allows them to register any name they want without having to form another company or amend the details of their existing venture. In this article, we’ll discuss what a DBA is and how you can get one.
What Is a DBA?
A DBA, which stands for “doing business as,” is a fictitious name entrepreneurs can register to use in place of their legal business name. It is not a separate entity or a subsidiary—it is an alias that businesses can use for many reasons, including privacy and promotions.
In Oklahoma, DBAs are also referred to as trade names. Oklahoma does not require businesses to have trade names unless they want to operate under another name.
What Are The Advantages Of A DBA In Oklahoma?
DBAs offer many benefits businesses of all types can take advantage of. Here’s a quick look:
Branding becomes easier
Trade names allow businesses to establish their chosen brand easier than when they try to use their legal name. Sole proprietorships, for example, have to do business under the owner’s legal name. This means a sole proprietor named John Jones will have to use his name to promote his car paint business unless he gets a DBA for it.
Mr. Jones can apply for the DBA “Jones Car Paint Specialists” to market his car paint business better. The trade name itself speaks for the business and the owner and will help associate Mr. Jones with his expertise in car paints.
It allows for easier diversification
DBAs can be used to market specific product lines in Oklahoma. Companies that want to diversify can use DBAs to segregate their products and give them appropriate names. A health business called “Fitness LLC” can use the trade names “Munchealth” for a healthy food business, “Fitness Boost Center” for a gym and personal coaching venture, and “Healthwear” for a sports clothing line.
SMBs can also use DBAs for new ventures they want to add to their existing business. Sole proprietors wanting to try their hand at something new can use trade names for each side business.
A sole proprietor named Oliver Davis, for example, runs a local barbecue business but wants to set up a side project selling jams and jellies, as well as another venture focusing on his favorite Vietnamese sandwich, the Banh Mi. He can get DBAs for each—”Oliver’s Jams and Jellies” and “Oliver’s Bahn Mi To Go.”
It gives a boost to privacy
Trade names allow entrepreneurs to hide their personal legal names from promotional marketing and business correspondence. This is especially true for sole proprietorships and general partnerships where the owners’ names are used for the business.
Let’s consider Mr. Jones above. Without a DBA, Mr. Jones’s promotional materials will have “John Jones” printed on them. A DBA prevents that from happening.
It makes banking easier
Some banks in Oklahoma require businesses to use DBAs. This lets you separate personal finances from your business, allowing you to segregate finances between several ventures.
What Are The Disadvantages Of A DBA In Oklahoma?
While Oklahoma trade names offer many benefits, they do not have any downsides that could negatively affect businesses. However, they do have some limitations that could be disadvantageous to those who don’t know them.
DBAs won’t protect personal assets
Since DBAs are, aliases are used as an alternative business name. They do not provide any asset protection from lawsuits, unlike Oklahoma LLCs and corporations. They let you hide behind an added layer of privacy, but if you run a sole proprietorship or partnership, you need to get insured to keep your personal assets safe.
You can’t use just about any name you want
While trade names have to be unique and creative, they must follow Oklahoma’s standards for business names. This means you cannot use any name that comes to mind, no matter how relevant they are to your venture. You have to create a name that meets Oklahoma’s requirements–specifically, any name that does not include the following:
- Words used for financial institutions such as “bank,” “banc,” “credit union,” and so on
- Words used for governmental agencies such as “Secretary of State,” “Treasury,” “FBI,” and so on
- Suffixes used for business entities, such as Corp., Inc., LLP, and LLC
How To Get A DBA In Oklahoma
Now, let’s discuss the actual process of getting DBAs in Oklahoma. Here’s what you need to do:
Search for your trade name
First, visit the Oklahoma Business Name Search website and check if your preferred trade name is available. Your chosen DBA should be unique, not be used by other businesses in the state, and meet the state’s naming requirements (see above). Prepare several names just in case the DBA you want is not available anymore.
File with the Oklahoma Secretary of State
After verifying your preferred DBA’s availability, fill out the Trade Name Report form and submit it to the Oklahoma Secretary of State by mail. The form will require you to provide details about your preferred trade name, the business where it will be used, its structure, and so on.
Alternatively, you can just file it via the Secretary of State’s website. Make sure to pay the filing fee as well.
How Much Is A DBA In Oklahoma?
When filing your DBA with the Secretary of State, make sure to pay the $25 filing fee. Oklahoma charges less for DBAs compared to some states. What’s more, this is a one-time payment as Oklahoma DBAs do not expire, which means you won’t need to renew them.
Trade names, as DBAs are known in Oklahoma, are meant to provide entrepreneurs with extra benefits for their respective businesses. They allow you to diversify and promote their services to potential clients better. They may not provide asset protection comparable to LLCs and corporations, but they help sole proprietors and general partnerships hide behind a layer of privacy that they wouldn’t have.
Oklahoma DBAs are easy to get. The filing process is easy and straightforward, and the fees are affordable. Moreover, you won’t have to worry about other businesses using the same name after some time. After all, Oklahoma DBAs do not expire and don’t need to be renewed. Businesses can simply focus on growing their ventures using DBAs. If you’re looking for a way to use other names for your business in Oklahoma, get a DBA.
Frequently Asked Questions About A DBA
Here are the most commonly asked questions about forming a DBA:
The processing time varies with how DBAs are filed with the Oklahoma Secretary of State. DBAs filed online will take 1-2 business days to process. DBAs submitted by mail, on the other hand, will take 7-10 business days. Oklahoma does not offer expedited services.
Yes. You can have as many DBAs in Oklahoma as long as they are unique and available. Also, you must be able to maintain their upkeep. Do this with every DBA you want.
No. Trade names do not give personal asset protection in the event of a lawsuit. Corporations and LLCs enjoy that privilege, but sole proprietorships and general partnerships do not. If your business is not an LLC or corporation, you need to get insured to enjoy personal asset protection.
No. Oklahoma does not place more taxes on businesses using DBAs to operate. DBAs are just aliases or fictitious names businesses can use in lieu of their legal names. They are not separate entities that can be taxed.
Oklahoma prohibits using the following for DBAs in the state:
- Words or phrases related to or implying that the business is a financial institution. For example: “bank,” “banc,” “credit union,” and so on.
- Words that could falsely imply or indicate that the business is a governmental agency. For example, “Secretary of State,” “Treasury,” “FBI,” and so on.
- Suffixes are used for business entities, such as Corp., Inc., LLP, and LLC.
Oklahoma does not allow making changes to the actual trade name you use for your company. You can, however, make other changes—such as changes in address—by filling out an Amended Trade Name Report form and then submitting it to the Oklahoma Secretary of State online or by mail.
Yes. You can withdraw or cancel your Oklahoma DBA at any time by filling out the Withdrawal of Trade Name Report form and then submitting it to the Secretary of State online or by mail.
No. Trade names and trademarks are very different from each other. An Oklahoma trade name is an alias created to be used as an alternative to a business’s legal name. Meanwhile, a trademark is an intellectual property registration meant to protect certain brands.
Entrepreneurs use trade names in order to establish a brand and market their products to customers easily. Trademarks are meant to keep intellectual properties safe and protected from those who would violate or infringe on their rights to them.