Registering a Sole Proprietorship DBA? 5 Things You Need to Know Before You File

    Registering a sole proprietorship—the simplest, most basic type of business, consisting of one unincorporated individual—is a relatively simple process. But whether you’re taking care of the registration on your own, or working with a third-party business incorporation company like Click&Inc, there are a few things you should know about the process.

    1. You might not need a DBA registration.

    Registering a Sole Proprietorship DBA? Here are 5 things you need to know.

    Are you sure a Sole Proprietorship is what you need?

    Not every sole proprietorship requires registration. Keeping in mind that “DBA” stands for “Doing Business As” an assumed name, if you’re using your own legal name as your business name, you might not need this filing.

    In other words: If you’re already using your legal name, there’s generally no need to assume it!

    (Note that this refers to the DBA filing only; other filings, such as income tax, as well as licenses and permits related to your jurisdiction, may still be required.)

    2. You may not be able to register your sole proprietorship in the entire state.

    There are states—Colorado, Florida, and Missouri, for example—in which a single-person DBA filing would go through the Secretary of State, right alongside such organizations as corporations and limited liability companies. But this is not the case everywhere.

    In many other states—Texas, California, Wisconsin, New York—DBAs for individuals (sole proprietorships) are not registered with the state at all; the County Clerk (or sometimes the county Register of Deeds) is the governing office of DBA registrations in many states across the country.

    What if you’re located in one of these county-filed-DBA states, but you want to register with the state? In that case, it might be time to consider a more formalized business, like a corporation or LLC.

    3. Your notarized signature may be required.

    In many jurisdictions, a notarized signature of the sole proprietor is required.

    In many jurisdictions, a notarized signature of the sole proprietor is required.

    Even if you’re using a third-party business incorporation company, it’s very possible—even likely—that your signature will be required. It’s also possible that you’ll have to go to a notary public.

    Some jurisdictions allow sole proprietorships to be filed online, with an “electronic signature” (i.e. used in lieu of a physical signature. Others allow a simple signature, sometimes even a faxed signature.

    But roughly half of all sole proprietorship DBA filings require owners to appear in front of a notary, show their IDs, and have their signatures notarized.

    From the public’s perspective, this is a good thing—we want to know that our local business owners are who they say they are—but if you’re hiring a third party filing service, don’t be surprised if they need your notarized signature before they can move forward.

    4. You probably have to register in the place you live.

    The vast majority of states and counties require that the individual who owns a sole proprietorship must reside in the same state or county as the one in which they register the business.

    There are varying degrees of this: some places allow the business owner to reside out of state, provided the address of the business fall within the jurisdiction; others allow DBA registrations even with no physical location in the state or county. But in most cases, the owner and business must belong to the same state or county.

    5. You may not be securing any sort of exclusive rights to your name.

    If the fact that someone in the county over could register their own business with the same name as yours gives you pause, you may be interested to know that in many counties, there could even be a business down the street with the same name; not all counties protect a business owner’s exclusive rights to his or her DBA name.

    Still interested? Click&Inc can help you register your sole proprietorship DBA quickly, easily, and legally. Ask Click about filing a DBA today!

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      5 comments on “Registering a Sole Proprietorship DBA? 5 Things You Need to Know Before You File
      1. Mary Kaplan says:

        Interesting post with important information for sole proprietors. What is the reason why sole proprietors choose not to incorporate? I would think that most people would want the protection that incorporating provides. Is it much cheaper to register a sole proprietorship vs. incorporating?

      2. Sarah says:

        Great point, Mary. It does seem logical that any business would want corporate protections, since they’re available for the taking. But this level of complexity just isn’t necessary for a lot of one-person businesses.

        You’re right, a sole proprietorship doesn’t offer the legal protections a corporation does, but it is cheaper to start and maintain; that’s why it’s generally used for smaller businesses that don’t really need the extra liability protection. As just one example, I run a small editing business out of my home. I file my taxes as an independent contractor, and I don’t necessarily benefit from incorporating: I don’t need any loans for inventory or office space, I’m not in danger of anyone being injured on my watch, I’m using my own last name as my business name, I won’t hire employees, my business has no need to exist without me . . . I don’t need the liability protection because I’m really not liable for much. Of course, any of these factors could change, at which point I’ll have to reconsider my options!

        The liability issue is one of the reasons most larger business do choose to form LLCs or corporations: the more money involved and the higher the liability risk, the better corporate protection looks. And, of course, a corporation or LLC transcends one single individual and can exist after he or she is gone. But definitely, definitely get help from a corporate attorney if you need help weighing all the options.

        Thanks for the comment!

      3. Marcos says:

        I am truly glad to read this webpage posts which consists of lots of useful facts, thanks for providing such information.

      4. Fantastic blog! Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

        I’m planning to start my own website soon but I’m a little lost on everything.

        Would you recommend starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option?
        There are so many options out there that I’m completely confused .. Any suggestions? Thanks a lot!

      5. Claire says:

        Julia,

        Thanks for reading our blog! We are using WordPress for this blog and it works well!

        Claire

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