How to Set Up a DBA in Connecticut
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A DBA (Doing Business As) allows individuals and businesses to operate under a different name or expand their brand presence while maintaining legal compliance. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the step-by-step process of setting up your DBA in Connecticut.
Small business owners looking for New England charm, lots of history, and good seaports will find what they’re looking for in Connecticut. The Constitution State is home to Yale University and the country’s first dictionary. It’s known for its quality of life, as it has top-ranked schools and low crime rates. It’s also a great state to establish a business in. If you’re interested in setting up a DBA in Connecticut, ee’ve created a guide that provides information, tips, and links to get you started.
What is a DBA?
DBA is an acronym that means “doing business as.” The DBA meaning is when the name, also called a trade name or assumed name, is used separately from the business name that is registered with the state as the legal entity.
Some states refer to a DBA as a fictitious business name or an alias name used for a company name. Some use the DBA name other than the legal name or your own name for various reasons. Reasons included gaining legal protections and some tax advantages to sole proprietors, a limited liability company (LLC), and general partnerships.
How to search DBA names in Connecticut
All states establish their laws about dealing with business names. A standard rule is that businesses should have different names. However, depending on the state, several rules can apply to DBA names. Some states don’t require for DBA names to be distinguishable from other businesses.
Even so, you should want your business name, even a DBA name, to be a different name from other businesses. You don’t want your business to be confused with another and need to be able to market it properly.
Those starting a DBA should check for name availability against all registered names when picking a DBA name. The best place to start that search is with the Connecticut Secretary of State’s office, but you can also double-check local DBA names against business licenses at the county clerk’s office.
The county clerk will have a list of local businesses that may not be on the state registry. Another way to check is to search for businesses with your preferred DBA name online. You will probably want a domain name to reflect your DBA name, so it’s good to know if it’s already taken by another website.
You may need to check several places to cover both general licenses and corporate registrations. Another place to check for trademarks is the U.S. Patent and Trade Mark Office.
Go to the Connecticut Secretary of State’s page
Once you are on the data search page, look for the free tool to check corporate entity name availability. Put your name proposal into the entity box. You can check as many names as you want.
Review the search results
The search will show you any exact matches or similar names to the name you selected. Connecticut doesn’t show you businesses using DBA names as they are all filed with town clerks rather than the state. It will show you registered business entities like LLCs or corporations.
Register a name you like
When you decide on a name for your DBA, you must contact the local township where you will be doing business and file it there. Only townships accept DBA filings as they are not filed with any county or at the state level. You can find a list of Connecticut townships here.
Have a name in mind? Check on name availability first here.
How to register a DBA in Connecticut
Connecticut is different in how it handles DBA registrations by the fact that you file them in local towns rather than with the state. That means every town can have a different style of form and a different fee.
Those who want to file a trademark may also want to consult an attorney to ensure the process is done legally and properly.
Contact the town clerk where you will do business
There is a list of all contacts for townships here. It’s a good idea to talk to the town clerk about what the town or city requires to register and how much it will cost. Every town is different, so you could face a surprise if you don’t get clarifications upfront.
Submit the form either electronically, in person, or by mail
Many towns have electronic filing systems that make it easy to file for your DBA certificate online and pay the fee with a credit card. Generally, towns that require you to file in person or by mail will accept checks.
Be sure to ask how long the processing time will be and how you will get your DBA certificate. Online filings tend to be quicker, but it could take up to a week or two to process those mailed in or brought into the office.
Get your questions answered
Those with questions can start here to find answers. You can also ask your local town or county clerk questions about starting a business in their area. Many local towns and counties have FAQ pages on their websites so navigate to your town’s website to see if answers can be found there.
Ready to register your DBA? Find your form here.
What comes next
Once you get everything you need to be filed in your town, you should start doing other things to build your Connecticut DBA under your registered trade name.
Open up a business checking account
Banks require a trade name certificate before approving the opening of a business bank account. Most require this for sole proprietors and partnerships wanting to use a DBA name. This should be one of the first things you should do for your new business to accept payments and pay for expenses.
Get an EIN
This is a federal employer identification number associated with your business that is issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). An EIN is required in filing taxes, hiring employees, and dealing with vendors. Most require it on contracts or other financial forms. Lenders and investors like for businesses to have it too.
Check state tax requirements
Connecticut has its tax laws, so it’s important to know and understand them before you start doing business, whether you’re a limited liability company or a DBA. Check to make sure you’re aware of the requirements by clicking here. All tax forms are filed with the Connecticut Department of Revenue. You will also likely need a state employer number. Information about that can be found here.
Check with state insurance and hiring requirements
Every state has its own rules when it comes to hiring practices and worker’s compensation for employees. Connecticut worker’s compensation laws are handled by the Connecticut Workers Compensation Commission. You should include liability insurance in your plan to have liability protection.
Set up your business goals and policies
A business plan provides for a solid business structure, even if you are running your business alone. It is a basis for decisions and can help get loans and investors. It can also guide you in your policies, so they remain consistent and fair.
Establish a marketing plan
Every business, including a new DBA, needs to start with a marketing plan to attract customers. Marketing plans should include a variety of exposure from the internet to radio, television, and local newspaper ads. It helps establish your brand and keeps your DBA in front of the public.
Connect with resources for help
Connecticut has business resources to get you going correctly with your startup. Using them from the early stages of your business planning is good to help you handle all the details, like creating a business plan, getting funding, and hiring employees. Most of these services are free. Some of these include the Connecticut Small Business Development Center, the Small Business Administration, and the Connecticut Small Business Boost Fund.
If you plan to get an EIN, you can do so on the IRS website.
Who is a DBA best for?
Sole proprietorships and general partnerships often use DBA names so they can separate their personal names from the business names to protect personal assets. This becomes important if you are ever in a legal situation such as a lawsuit or are audited by the IRS.
Any type of legal business entity can do business under a DBA. Many do it to build a branded image, or because they have multiple niche businesses they wish to keep as separate legal entities. This is a good idea to legally protect all the businesses. The idea is to keep a DBA name separated from the legal name. The name of the business and any DBAs you use are some of the most important choices you can make.
Why would entrepreneurs choose to set up a DBA in Connecticut?
Connecticut offers many benefits to those who choose to start a business. Many find the New England culture enjoyable, and businesses can thrive in the state. Some of the other main advantages are listed.
- The state has an excellent public education system, so there are educated workers.
- Connecticut has thriving, manageable cities.
- The state has access to good healthcare options.
- It has one of the lowest crime rates in the country.
- Connecticut has excellent transportation options including highways, airports, and sea ports.
- There are a lot of lifestyle choices, whether you want to live in the country, a small town, or an urban city.
- The state has four distinct seasons, which many enjoy.
Cost to get a DBA set up
Every town in Connecticut has its own way to file for DBAs and set its own costs. You will need to contact every town that you plan to do business in to get a DBA and business license in that town.
However, here is an example from the town of Fairfield.
- The fee to file a DBA is $10.
- The fee to have it notarized is $5.
- Certified copies are $3 each.
Those who want to register their business as an LLC or some other business entity will file with the Secretary of State. That office has its own fees established for those services.`Registering with the state doesn’t preclude you from getting a local business license. You will still need to register a DBA locally even if you have a state-registered business if you plan to do business under a different name.
Do trade names in Connecticut need to be renewed?
It’s up to every town how to handle trade name renewal, but many allow them to be permanent without requiring renewal.
Can a contractor get a trade name in Connecticut?
Yes, any business can get a trade name in the state. However, contractors must also register with the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection to do business.
Can I do business in different towns with my trade name in Connecticut?
You will need to check with your town clerk to determine if you can use your trade name in another town to do business. You may need to register in any town where you are conducting business.
Does my DBA filing have to be notarized?
While every Connecticut town has its laws about DBAs, many require that you sign the form in front of a notary. Check with your local town clerk.
Do I have to get an EIN if I am working alone?
Most, if not all, Connecticut towns require you to have an EIN and a state tax employer number for a DBA, even if you are a sole proprietor.
What will happen if I don’t register my DBA?
Connecticut considers performing multiple transactions as “doing business.” Conducting one transaction with it closed in 30 days isn’t having a business. The state has a $300 fine for each month, topping out at $3,600 annually, for an out-of-state business that does business in the state without a certificate of authority. There are other fines for those located in the state and doing business without registering.
Find out how to set up your DBA
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