Business owners looking to reach out to more customers in Wyoming need a good name for their venture. A good business name effectively draws people in and helps establish a brand that customers will remember. Business names, however, are largely limited by the business’s actual structure. LLCs and corporations, for example, use the legal name used to register the business with the state.
Thankfully, owners of Wyoming-based businesses have a way to use the names they want for the business: DBAs. In this article, we’ll talk about DBAs, what you can benefit from them, and how to get them into the Equality State.
What Is a DBA?
DBA is an abbreviation for “doing business as.” It’s a fictitious name or alias that businesses can use instead of their actual legal name. They are known as fictitious business names in other states, but in Wyoming, they are referred to as “Trade names.”
Trade names do not replace a business’s legally registered name. They are also not separate entities. If you open a sole proprietorship, its legally-registered business name will always be your actual name. If you get a DBA for that business, you can operate using the alternative name you have chosen.
With a DBA, you can conduct your business activities using the trade name you have applied for, providing a distinct and recognizable identity. And while the reason for their existence seems simple, they actually bring many benefits to those who own them.
What Are The Advantages Of A DBA In Wyoming?
DBAs present Wyoming businesses and their owners with several advantages. Here’s a quick look.
Branding becomes easier
Trade names are primarily used to establish the brand you want for your business. By using a DBA, you are able to make a good first impression with potential customers and leave a lasting impression on those who actually avail of your products or services.
Let’s take the example of Sierra Trading Post Inc., a retailer based in Massachusetts. To make it more accessible to Wyoming residents, they use a simpler trade name that most people in Wyoming are familiar with: Sierra. The name “Sierra” itself creates a strong association with outdoor gear and clothing, perfectly aligning with the interests and preferences of Wyoming residents. It also evokes images of the Sierra Madre Range, which sits proudly in Wyoming and Colorado. The trade name alone communicates what the business has to offer.
It’s useful when franchising
Trade names are very important to franchises. If you purchase a franchise from a huge name in the food industry, for example, it will be registered in your state using a different name. You’ll need to file for a DBA so you can use the popular brand name the franchise is associated with.
Now, imagine you’re considering purchasing a franchise from Taco John’s, a well-known Mexican-inspired food chain based in Cheyenne. With over 400 branches spread across the US, Taco John’s has established a strong presence in the industry for years. The franchise you purchase will be registered under the name “Taco John’s Franchise 411” or something similar. You will need to file a DBA “Taco John’s” so you can operate using its more popular name.
It adds a layer of privacy for business owners
DBAs add a layer of privacy that business owners can use to hide their identity. Sole proprietors benefit from this layer the most: instead of putting their real names in promotional materials such as posters, flyers, and social media posts, they can use their trade names instead.
It helps businesses diversify or add more branches
DBAs help businesses when they want to diversify and try out new ventures or when they simply want to expand and add more branches. The Wyoming-based broadcasting company Legend Communications of Wyoming, LLC has three divisions (Gillette’s Basin Radio Network, Buffalo’s Big Horn Mountain Radio Network) and operates more than a dozen radio stations across the state, each with its own unique identity. Each division oversees multiple radio stations, each with its own unique genre and dedicated listenership.
For instance, KGWY (100.7 FM) is a radio station that specializes in country music, catering to country music enthusiasts in the area. On the other hand, GRACE-FM (106.7 FM) focuses on serving the Christian community by providing a platform for Christian-oriented programming.
Banking is made easier
While Wyoming doesn’t necessarily require businesses to file for DBAs unless they plan to operate using another name, banks do. You can open a bank account for your business using the trade name associated with it. This will help you segregate your personal finances from that of your business. If you have several businesses, this will help you segregate the finances of each venture. This will help you avoid the risk of mishandling your finances, which could lead to serious losses.
What Are The Disadvantages Of A DBA In Wyoming?
While DBAs bring many benefits to your business, they do not have any downside that could disadvantage you. They do have limitations, however.
For one, DBAs do not provide any personal asset protection the way Wyoming LLCs (Limited Liability Companies) and corporations do. If you run a sole proprietorship or general partnership, you need insurance to protect your assets. This is because if your business faces a lawsuit due to valid reasons like negligence or contract breaches and ends up losing the case, you may be personally liable to cover fines and dues using your personal assets.
Another limitation would be that you just cannot use any name as your DBA. While your DBA has to be unique and creative, it has to comply with Wyoming’s requirements for business names.
Simply put, there are some terms, words, abbreviations, or phrases that must not be included in your desired trade name. These include the following:
- The words “Bank,” “Banks,” “Banc,” “Bancorp,” “Bancorporation,” “Banque,” “Banqe,” “Banquer/s,” “Banco,” “Banca,” “PTC,” “Trust,” or any other word or abbreviation used for banking purposes. You can only use these if you acquire prior approval from Wyoming’s Division of Banking.
- The words “Academy,” “College,” “Edu,” “Educate,” “Education,” “Educational,” “Institute,” “Institution,” “School,” “Schools,” “University,” or any other word or abbreviation used for academic institutions. You can only use these if you have prior approval from the Department of Education.
- The words “limited liability company” or “corporation,” as well as the abbreviations or terms “LLC,” “Corp.,” and “Inc.,” unless these are your business’s actual structures.
Lastly, Wyoming DBAs are quite expensive. Small businesses struggling to earn profits might find them too luxurious at the start.
How To Get A DBA In Wyoming
Now, let’s discuss how you can actually get a DBA for your Wyoming-based business. The process is easy and straightforward. Here’s what you need to do:
Search for your preferred trade name
First, verify your preferred trade name’s availability. Visit the Wyoming Secretary of State’s website and search for your trade name if it is available. The name has to be unique and must not be used by other business entities in your state.
Reserve and use the trade name
If the name you want is available, you should reserve it and use it first. Wyoming requires trade names to be used in the state before they are formally registered as DBAs.
To begin, you can download the Application for Reservation of Trade Name form. This form is typically available on the Secretary of State’s website or can be requested from their office directly.
The form will require you to provide the following details:
- The proposed trade name you want reserved
- The name of the business owner
- The registrant’s address
Once the form is filled out, you will need to file it together with a $30 reservation fee. The name will be reserved for a maximum of 120 days and must be used within that time frame.
File your DBA with the Secretary of State
After a few weeks, file for the DBA with your Secretary of State. Visit their website and download the Application for Registration of Trade Name form. You will need to complete this and send it to your Secretary of State by mail as well. Remember that there’s a $100 filing fee.
The registration form will require you to provide the following information:
- The trade name you want to register
- The name of the business owner
- The business’s address
- The registrant’s address
- The business’s structure (if it is a sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, corporation, and so on)
- The nature of the business
Once your Wyoming DBA is approved, it will stay valid for 10 years. Once it expires, you will need to renew it by completing an Application for Renewal of Trade Name Registration form. You will also send this to your Secretary of State’s office by mail, along with the renewal fee.
How Much Does A DBA Cost In Wyoming?
DBAs are more expensive in Wyoming compared to other areas. The state charges $100 to register new DBAs and $50 to renew an expired one. Canceling existing DBAs also costs $10 each. They last for 10 years before needing renewal, however. Cash payments and credit or debit cards are not accepted.
Frequently Asked Questions About A DBA
Here are the most commonly asked questions about forming a DBA:
Wyoming takes 15 business days to process new DBA registrations. It also takes the Secretary of State’s office 15 business days to process renewals and cancellations. The state does not offer expedited services, so make sure to file for registration, renewal, and cancellation ahead of time to avoid any inconveniences.
DBAs add a layer of privacy for the business owner, but they do not protect the owner’s personal assets from court losses. Unless your business is an LLC or a corporation, you need to get insurance to protect assets to your name.
Yes. You can have as few or as many DBAs in Wyoming as long as you go through the process of registering them and can pay for their upkeep. Wyoming DBAs are expensive, so make sure to plan accordingly.
No. You cannot make changes or amendments to your DBA in Wyoming once it is registered. Instead, you must register a new DBA with the Secretary of State.
Yes. You can cancel your existing DBA by visiting the Wyoming Secretary of State’s website, downloading a Cancellation of Trade Name form, completing it, and sending the completed form to the office by mail. You also need to pay $10 to cancel your DBA. The state will cancel your trade name within 15 business days.
No. DBAs are fictitious names or aliases businesses can use to operate using another name. On the other hand, trademarks are intellectual property registrations used to acquire legal protections for your business’s brand at the local and national levels. The former is used to establish your business’s identity among customers. The latter is meant to protect your intellectual property from unlawful action, such as illegal reproduction and representation.