Two common acronyms associated with the legal structure of a business are LLC and DBA. Because they are closely related, it is easy to get confused about the two. However, they have important distinctions.
An LLC, or limited liability company, is a business structure that you can choose to use when creating your business. Your other options include sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, S corporation or a cooperative.
When you form an LLC business, you create a legal entity separate from its owners. Individuals and organizations can own an LLC, with the owners known as members. Many people choose an LLC because it protects the owners’ personal assets from any actions the business performs. To create an LLC, you must file the LLC paperwork according to your state’s guidelines.
A DBA, or doing business as, is basically a legal pseudonym for your business. In some areas, it is known as fictitious name, assumed name or trade name. In most states, you must register any DBA name for your business that you plan to use that is not your legal name.
The LLC is your legal identity, so you must use it on any forms that require your legal identification, such as government documents, tax returns and business permits. Your DBA is generally the name you use for your customers and in your marketing. You might also receive checks and payments to the name. Many businesses are an LLC and have a DBA. In some cases, a single business might have several DBAs. You do not have to have an LLC to have a DBA; any business structure can apply for a DBA.
If you are just starting down the road to building your business, then apply for an LLC here. If you already have one and just need to register your DBA, then fill out a DBA filing application by clicking here. If you need assistance with filing these documents, our assistance team is here 24/7.