How to Set Up a DBA in Georgia

Last updated: March 18th, 2024
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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 Georgia.

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If you are considering opening a business and being your own boss in Georgia, one of the most important things to have is a DBA or assumed name for your business. In this article, you will learn everything there is to know about setting up a DBA in Georgia. Whether you want to open an online business from your Atlanta home or launch a new retail shop in Savannah, this step-by-step guide explains DBA registration.

What is a Georgia DBA?

A DBA is an acronym for “doing business as,” sometimes known as a fictitious name, trade name, or DBA name depending on which state you are acquiring, it is a state-level name that your company can use to do business under. Or in simpler terms, a DBA is just another name you can use for your business.

Sole proprietors can benefit greatly from using a DBA because instead of using their own name to run their business, they can use a DBA to operate under a different name, which makes your company look more legitimate and trustworthy to future consumers. 

If you are thinking about a unique business name for your startup as a sole proprietor, the next step would be DBA filing to make sure the name of the business you thought about could be the legal name for your business. Where you are registering for LLCs, general partnerships, or any type of business entity, the acquisition of a DBA is a good way to start. 

How to run a name search for DBA names in Georgia

As mentioned before, a DBA is a fictitious business name you can operate your business under. However, there are some caveats to registering a DBA in Georgia, and one of the major caveats is that you cannot use a name already registered. If you are trying to come up with a business name and you want to make sure that it is free to use, here is a step-by-step process on how to search for existing DBAs in Georgia:

1
Go to the Georgia Secretary of State’s website

The first step to check for business name availability in Georgia is to visit the SOS website and look for the Georgia Corporations Division Business Search Tool. It is a simple tool you can use to check for existing business names. 

2
Type the name you wish to use and search

If you already have a name in mind, you can simply do a quick business search to see if the name you had in mind is available. Now, click on search to see the results.

3
Check the search results

If there are no results, it means your new name is up for grabs, and you can now register it as your DBA. If there is a perfect match in the results, it means you need to choose a different name, which is why it is better to come up with a list of names you want to use to ensure that at least one of them is free to use. This business guide will help you find an appropriate name for your business.

4
Consider reserving a name

If you consider reserving a name, you can pick up to three names. The top name on the list will be the one reserved if available, so make sure you check the availability yourself to make sure the top choice will be chosen. You can download the business name reservation form and mail it in. The filing fee is $25, and it takes 3 to 5 business days to process. 

Have a name in mind? Check on name availability first here.

Cost to get a DBA set up

The DBA cost varies in Georgia. Setting one up will depend on which county your business is located in. You can go to the Superior Court Clerks of Georgia website to see which court clerks you need to visit, depending on your location. The cost will vary and will cost anywhere between $150 to $200 depending on your location, so make sure you have at least $200 ready for the filing fees.

How to register a Georgia DBA

Now that you know most of what you need to set up a DBA in Georgia, here is the easiest way to get your DBA or name certificate in Georgia. Note that you cannot do this online, which means you cannot pay with a credit card, so make sure you are ready to visit the nearest Superior Court to start and finish the process:

1
Prepare and gather what you need

The first step is to think of a name for your Georgia business, which is explained at the beginning of the article. If you thought of a business name, gather everything else you need, such as more information about the business and state fees. 

2
Visit the nearest Superior Court to file for your DBA

The next step is to visit the nearest Superior Court or County Clerk’s office in your area. You can check out this guide to find the nearest one. The procedures vary from location to location, but you will most likely need to fill out forms and pay for the filing fee. 

3
Place a public notice

Not many states have this rule, but Georgia law says your trade name must be published in the local newspaper for two consecutive weeks. You can visit and submit the payment to the local publisher for a notice to appear. 

4
Wait until you receive the name certificate through mail

It will take several weeks to be processed, and the processing times vary from county to county. As of now, there are no expedited services for trade names, so the best thing to do to speed up the process is to have everything ready before submitting the forms. Incomplete information can cause delays in the process.

Ready to register your DBA? Fill out these forms.

What comes next

After filing your DBA, there are a couple more steps you need to take to get your business up and running. Here are a few steps you might want to take to make your new business more legitimate and credible in the state of Georgia:

1
File for an EIN

If you are planning on expanding or need help operating your business, you will need to obtain an EIN or employer identification number.

Having one will allow you to hire employees and file taxes under your Georgia DBA name. Your EIN is used as a Tax ID instead of filing with your SSN on tax forms.  

2
Get a domain name

Most businesses these days get their clients and customers online, and having an online presence will make your business seem more legitimate, so aside from creating social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, you can also build a website that can generate more traffic and potential sales. When choosing a domain name, it is best if it’s the same name as your business. However, they might not be available, so if that is the case, make sure you choose a domain name that is relevant or similar. 

3
Open a business bank account

With a DBA, you can now open a bank account under the name of your business. With a separate bank account, you can now easily manage your business’ finances, keep track of your spending, and see how much your business is making. You can maximize your business profits without getting in the way of your personal income and spending.

4
Get the necessary business permits and business licenses

Some businesses are required to get the necessary permits and licenses to operate legally in Georgia. For example, some businesses need a practicing license, especially for clinics, barbers, and other licensed professions. Depending on the nature of your business, you will need to obtain each business license at the office of the clerk where your business is located. 

If you plan to get an EIN, you can do so on the IRS website.

Who is a DBA best for?

A DBA is best for a sole proprietorship that wants to operate or do business under a different name, other than its legal name. For sole proprietors, a DBA allows them to work under an assumed name of your business without having to file or open a separate LLC business structure.

Note that a DBA differs from an LLC or any other business entity. While your LLC is a formal business structure, a DBA is another name your business can operate under. However, an LLC is a legal entity that can benefit from having a DBA for business growth and creating separate entities within a growing small business. 

For example, suppose you already own a small business that sells one thing. In that case, you can also expand and create a separate legal entity with a DBA to differentiate between these two businesses regarding legal protections and liability. 

Why would entrepreneurs choose to set up a DBA in Georgia?

There are many reasons to get a DBA instead of an LLC or any other business entity, especially when you are just starting. With that in mind, here are some of the benefits of starting a DBA in Georgia:

  • Having a DBA allows you to apply for an employee identification number or EIN, which allows you to hire employees or freelancers.
  • Getting a DBA is the most affordable way to start a legitimate business as a sole proprietor.
  • A DBA will allow you to do business using a different name other than your personal name, which also allows you to create a business bank account and start credit lines with an assumed name other than your legal name.
  • Acquiring a DBA is sometimes required by state laws to open a business.
  • Existing companies can use a DBA to rebrand without having to change their original name, whether it’s an incorporation or LLC.
  • A DBA offers privacy protection since you can do business under a different name.
  • A fictitious business name will make your business more legitimate and trustworthy, which is essential for growing your client base.
  • Having a separate company name or trade name is essential for small business owners to start a brand.
  • It allows you to separate personal assets from business assets.

FAQs

How often do you have to renew a DBA in Georgia?

Trade names do not need to be renewed in Georgia. However, if you wish to change the name, you will need to fill out a new trade name registration form with amendments, pay the same fee, and go through the process of filing a new DBA or trade name. 

Do I need to file a DBA for an LLC in Georgia?

You need to file for a DBA in Georgia if you wish to do business under a different name, which applies to a limited liability company, a general partnership, a sole proprietor, or any business entity. Getting a DBA is usually one of the first steps when starting a business in Georgia. 

What are the limitations of a DBA in Georgia?

A DBA has limitations since it is neither a business structure nor a legal entity. It is only used to legally operate under a separate legal entity without liability protection, meaning it will not protect your personal assets, business, and personal bank accounts in the event of a lawsuit against your business.

Does a DBA need to be registered with the IRS?

Not all DBAs are required to be registered with the IRS. However, if you are planning to expand and want to file business taxes separately from your personal taxes, you can register with the IRS and file under an EIN instead of using your SSN for filing. 

Can a DBA have multiple owners?

Yes, a specific DBA can have multiple owners, which will depend on the type of business entity you have chosen. If you are under a general partnership, LLC, or corporation and have multiple shareholders– your DBA will be owned by all the partners and people who own the business. 

Find out how to set up your DBA

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