How To File a DBA in Missouri in 3 Steps

If you're a business owner considering a Missouri fictitious name, learn what a fictitious name is first. It is commonly known as a DBA ("doing business as") registration. There are processes and requirements to get a DBA. But you can complete registering a Missouri fictitious name in three simple steps.

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Do I Need a Missouri DBA?

In Missouri, it's unlawful to transact business under a name other than its legal name without first registering the new name. A name that a business owner uses other than the legal business name is a fictitious name. Missouri law requires the registration of fictitious names. This is so consumers can identify the individuals or legal entities behind the name.

DBAs for Business Types

You might wonder if the type of business you own requires you to register a fictitious name.

If you're operating a sole proprietorship, your own personal name is the legal name for your business. Many sole proprietors and partners find fictitious names appealing because it allows them to maintain their privacy. These small business owners can present their business more professionally than just using their name. DBA registration also enables small businesses to sign contracts and open business bank accounts under a different name.

If you own a limited liability company (LLC)or corporation, the legal name for your business is the name you provided on the paperwork you filed when you formed the business entity. Owners of limited liability companies or corporations find DBAs useful when launching a new product or service.

Take, for example, the owner of a fine dining establishment who'd like to try her hand at owning a fast-food restaurant. She doesn't want customers confused by using the same name for the new venture. But she doesn't want to form a new business entity altogether. She can register a DBA and use it for the new restaurant.

Personal Asset Protection

While getting a DBA in Missouri could offer your business branding opportunities, it won't provide it with personal asset protection. You likely already have personal asset protection if you own an LLC, corporation, or other legal business entity.

But if you're a sole proprietor, you risk losing your personal assets, such as a house or car, if someone sues the business over a debt or obligation. If you want personal asset protection, consider forming a business entity such as an LLC or corporation instead. You can form an LLC with FindLaw if you don't have one already.

3 Steps To File a Missouri DBA

1

Conduct a DBA Name Search

The fictitious name that you choose should be unique and distinguishable. You don't want to pick a name already used by another individual or business entity. To check for name availability, search Missouri business records and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office database.

First, search state business records through the Missouri Secretary of State Business Entity Search. If a Missouri business entity has already taken a name on your list, move on to another name on the list.

Next, visit the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website. Search for the fictitious name you'd like to use on TESS (Trademark Electronic Search System). You must determine if someone has already trademarked a name you'd like to use. You could face penalties for using a name that someone else has trademarked. An intellectual property lawyer can help you decipher the results.

Finally, consider the name restrictions in Missouri. Most states have naming regulations that you must be aware of when considering the name you'd like to register for your business. Note the following restrictions for Missouri DBAs:

  • You can't use any words or phrases that suggest you are a governmental agency
  • You can't use any business entity suffix (such as "LLC," "Corp.," or "Inc.") unless you have that type of business entity
  • You can't use words or phrases such as "bank," "credit union," "banker," "trust company," or "savings bank" unless you have a financial institution

Generally, make sure you don't use any words or phrases in your fictitious name that would be misleading or confusing to the public. Once you've settled on an available name, it's a good idea to secure the web domain.

2

Register Your Missouri DBA

You can register your Missouri fictitious name in person, online, or by mail.

You can also submit your application in person to:

Corporations Division
600 W. Main St., Rm. 322
Jefferson City, MO 65102

To file a Missouri DBA name online, visit the Missouri Secretary of State online business portal.

To file a DBA by mail, complete the Registration of Fictitious Name form and mail it to:

Corporations Division
P.O. Box 778
Jefferson City, MO 65102

Be prepared to provide the following information for your DBA name registration in Missouri:

  • Fictitious name you want to register
  • Owner's name and address
  • Business address
  • Charter number (if the owner is a business entity)

Don't forget to include the filing fee of $7 with your trade name registration. Once you've completed the registration process, you can manage your DBA.

3

Manage Your Missouri DBA

Fictitious name registration is good for five years in Missouri. Note that expired fictitious names are not allowed renewal. If you allow your DBA to expire and you still wish to use a DBA, you'll have to file a new registration.

To avoid the expiration of your fictitious name, file a renewal within six months before the expiration date. You can file your renewal online or by mail. The fee is $7.

You can also make changes to your DBA. You can file an amendment if you'd like to change the business address on your registration or correct a misspelling. But suppose you want to change your fictitious name or transfer ownership to another individual or business entity. In that case, you'll need to cancel your registration and file a new fictitious name.

If you need to cancel your fictitious name registration for some reason, you can do so by filing the Cancellation of Registration of Fictitious Name form. There's no fee for cancellation, and it can be done online or by mail.

What Else Should I Do After Filing My DBA?

Filing your DBA was an initial step in getting your business up and running. But you'll want to take quite a few more steps after filing.

For example, you will need to consider how you'll integrate your new DBA name into your marketing plan. You'll likely need to get:

  • New signs
  • Marketing materials
  • Business cards
  • Logos
  • Billboards
  • Brochures

Consider getting a website, even if you're not comfortable building the website on your own. You can hire help for your website if necessary.

One crucial task is separating your personal funds from your business funds. Not only does it make accounting easier, but it's also vital to maintaining personal asset protection if you have it. A DBA certificate allows you to get a business bank account or credit card.

Don't forget to look into business insurance. Purchase a general liability insurance policy that can be used to pay any personal injury damages against the business.

Missouri Fictitious Name FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

Still Need Help Registering a Missouri Fictitious Name?

You might still have questions about the registration process or whether you need to operate your business under a fictitious name. It's a good idea to ensure you've gathered all the information you need before making a decision that affects your business. Direct any unanswered questions to a professional.

An attorney could discuss your options and the DBA registration process with you. Don't hesitate to reach out to an attorney in your area for legal advice about DBAs in Missouri. Or you can let our trusted partner LegalZoom handle your name search, DBA application filing and publishing for $99 plus filing fees.

Disclaimer: The information presented here does not constitute legal advice or representation. It is general and educational in nature, may not reflect all recent legal developments, and may not apply to your unique facts and circumstances. Consider consulting with a qualified business attorney if you have legal questions.

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