When you start a business, you have to choose a name for that business.
However, the name listed on the formation and registration documents may not be the exact name you want to use in practice.
In this situation, business owners often choose a “doing business as” name, or DBA. Clients frequently ask about how to get a DBA in Houston, TX.
This blog post will help you understand what a DBA is, how to register one, and why they are important.
What Is a Texas DBA?
A DBA, also known as a trade name, assumed name, or fictitious name, is the name a business uses that differs from the “legal” name of the business. The legal name is the official business name you include in the applicable formation documents.
Who Needs to Get a DBA in Houston?
In Texas, all businesses that want to operate under an assumed name must register that name. Accordingly, Texas law requires a DBA for corporations and LLCs using a name other than the one on their formation documents.
In the case of sole proprietorships and partnerships, Texas law requires a DBA if the business uses a name other than the owner’s full legal name (like “John Smith”).
Benefits of a DBA
One of the primary benefits of a DBA is that it allows business owners more flexibility with naming and starting their businesses. For example, if a business’s legal name doesn’t adequately describe what the business does, a business owner can use a DBA to change that.
Additionally, DBAs do not have to include an organizational identifier like “Inc.” or “LLC” like a legal name does. This is useful if a business owner prefers not to include those identifiers in their public-facing brand.
DBAs can also be used to operate multiple businesses under a single entity (like an LLC or corporation). In this situation, a business owner might have two separate but related businesses with different names.
DBAs are a powerful tool in forming and expanding a business. However, they can quickly complicate how your business operates. As a result, you should consider speaking with a Houston business attorney if you’re unsure how to get a DBA in Houston, TX.
How to Get a DBA in Houston, TX
There are several steps to register your DBA in Houston. Typically, the first step is to conduct a search of existing Texas businesses to make sure the name you want isn’t already taken.
You can search taxable entities in the state at the website of the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. You may also want to check with state and federal trademark databases to make sure your desired business name does not infringe on anyone’s trademarks.
Once that’s out of the way, the next step is to file an Assumed Name Certificate. The process is slightly different depending on what type of business entity you have.
LLCs, Corporations, and LLPs
Assumed name certificates for limited liability companies, corporations, and limited liability partnerships must be filed with the Texas Secretary of State. You can submit the completed certificate either by mail, fax, or in-person delivery to the following addresses:
Secretary of State
P.O. Box 13697
Austin, TX 78711
By Fax: 512-463-5709
James Earl Rudder Office Building
1019 Brazos St.
Austin, TX 78701
There is a $25 filing fee payable by check, money order, or credit card.
Sole Proprietorships and Partnerships
Assumed name certificates for sole proprietorships and partnerships must be filed with the county clerk in each county in which the business has an office. If there is no office location, then you must file the certificate in each county in which you conduct business.
In most cases, this means filing your certificate by mail with the county clerk for Harris County at the following address:
P.O. Box 1525
Houston, TX 77251
The Texas Secretary of State’s website maintains an up-to-date list of county clerks and their addresses. The fee and forms required vary by county, but you can generally expect to pay around $15 to file.
Need to Get a DBA in Houston?
If you have more questions about how to get a DBA in Houston, The Curley Law Firm can help.
We have over 10 years of experience representing startups and small businesses with their legal needs. Contact us today online or give us a call at 832-225-3448 to schedule a case evaluation with our attorneys.