How To File a DBA in Georgia in 3 Steps
A DBA (doing business as) name is any name a business uses that is different from its legal name. In Georgia, if you do business under a name other than your business's legal name, you must register it in the county where you do business.
The process of filing a DBA name is easy in the state of Georgia. If you plan to do business under a DBA, our three simple steps will walk you through what you need to do to make it legal. As you go through the steps, keep in mind that a DBA is sometimes referred to as a fictitious name or a trade name. Georgia government websites and forms typically refer to a DBA as a trade name.
Why File a DBA Name in Georgia?
If you operate for more than thirty days under a name other than your business's legal name, you could get into legal trouble. Filing your Georgia DBA is a simple process and will prevent unwanted legal hassles.
If your small business is a sole proprietorship, your legal name will be the same as your personal name by default. The same is true if your business is a general partnership. You cannot operate under any other name unless you register a trade name.
Take, for instance, a carpenter named Sam, who is a sole proprietor. Sam must register a trade name to do business under the name Sam's Carpentry legally. You will know that you have a sole proprietorship if you are the only owner, you have not filed paperwork to create a formal business entity, and you pay your business taxes via your personal taxes.
Common reasons for filing a DBA name include:
- For banking purposes. If you want to open a bank account under your company's DBA name, you need to register that name officially.
- For advertising. To promote your business under a new name, you must submit a trade name application to make it legal. Some companies create a DBA to provide a new line of products or services and market them under a different name.
- For transactions. To accept or make payments under a new business name, you must file a trade name application.
Does a DBA Provide Any Legal Protections?
No. Keep in mind that a DBA is only a business name. It is not a business license or a business entity. So, it does not provide personal liability protection or remove legal requirements for your business.
If you want to protect your personal assets from business liability, consider creating a limited liability company (LLC). An LLC is an excellent legal structure for most new businesses. It is simpler and more flexible than a corporation but still offers liability protection. However, incorporation might be necessary if you have many investors or plan to offer stock options to your employees.
If your business is already an LLC, corporation, or other business entity operating under its legal business name, you do not need to file a DBA. You would only create a DBA if you intended to do business under another name.
LLCs and corporations typically have federal tax IDs (EINs) to bank and hire employees. If you already have an EIN for your LLC or corporation, you do not need to create a new one for your DBA. Your DBA will use your company's existing EIN.
How Do You File a DBA Application In Georgia?
Step 1: Check Your Name's Availability and Follow Naming Rules
Your Georgia DBA name has to be unique and not used by a competing Georgia business. To find out if your business name is already being used, you will have to do a thorough search. Start by doing a name search at the Georgia Secretary of State website.
Next, you should do a simple internet screening search to see if a competitor uses the same or a similar name. Another essential precaution to take is to search the United States Patent and Trademark Office's (USPTO's) trademark database. This is a vital step to ensure that your name does not infringe on another company's trademark rights.
Your trade name application can get denied if the name is the same as another business registered in your county. So, the best policy is to make sure your business name is available to avoid the delays a denial will cause.
While conducting these searches, it would be wise to check for domain name availability before committing to a name. Even if you don't build your website right away, it's a good idea to make sure you have reserved your domain name. That way, it will be ready to go when you want to launch your online presence.
Finally, you should make sure to follow Georgia's naming rules when choosing your trade name. If your business is not a corporation or LLC, you should not include any words or abbreviations like “corp.", “incorporated," or “LLC" that could confuse the public.
Step 2: File Your DBA With Your County
In Georgia, you need to file your DBA name with the office of the clerk of the superior court where your principal place of business is located.
Finding Your Trade Name Application Form:
To find your assumed name application form, you should go to your county clerk's website. Georgia provides a complete list of county clerks on its Georgia clerks website. You can choose your county from the map or from a list.
Some counties, like Fulton county, offer a downloadable trade name application. If the trade name registration form is not available on your county clerk's website, you should call or email their office directly. They can offer more information on how to get the paperwork you need.
Filling Out Your Trade Name Application:
The paperwork you will need to fill out may vary from county to county. But state-level laws require you to provide certain basic company details. This information is usually easy to gather. You will need to:
- Give your business's address.
- Provide your requested trade name.
- State the nature of your business.
- Provide names, contact information, and notarized signatures of company owners.
- Make payment for the fees listed on the form. These fees tend to change over time and by location, but they will generally be around $200 for the combined filing and publication fees.
Once you have completed the application, mail it, or return it to your county clerk. Their mailing address should be on the application.
Step 3: Publish Your Georgia DBA Name
It might seem old-fashioned, but Georgia law requires you to publish a notice of your new Georgia DBA name in a local newspaper. The notice should run every week for two weeks. It should appear in the same newspaper that runs the sheriff's advertisements. Your county clerk can probably inform you as to the correct local newspaper.
Some counties, like Gwinnett, make this step easy by including the publication fee as part of the trade name application. If you have additional questions about the publication requirement or any other aspects of the DBA filing, you should contact your county clerk.
How an Attorney Can Help
There can be a lot of legal issues to tackle when starting a new business. A business attorney can help if you have questions about Georgia DBAs, business structures, licenses, or other legal issues.
You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.