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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