How to Start a DBA in Louisiana
Louisiana has a lot to offer entrepreneurs who long for adventure. There’s a diverse and interesting culture, great food, excellent music, a deep history, and lots of recreational areas for young and old. Those who want to start a DBA in the Bayou State should research all the laws and rules for doing so first. We’ve written a guide that will help you avoid the sandtraps trying to set up a DBA in Louisiana. Our guide has many tips and tricks to keep your business afloat and cruising.
Recommended LLC Services
What is a DBA?
The acronym DBA refers to “doing business as.” DBA is sometimes referred to by other names such as an assumed name, a fictitious name, an alias name, or a trade name. No matter what they call it, the DBA meaning is simple. It’s when the name being used for the business is a different name from your own name or the name of the legal entity listed on the state registration.
Using a DBA has some advantages for businesses. Sole proprietors use DBAs instead of their personal names for legal protection as it protects personal assets. Other types of businesses, including a limited liability company (LLC) and general partnerships, find using a DBA name has some tax advantages as well as legal protections.
How to search DBA names in Louisiana
The Louisiana Secretary of State’s office has a database with all active and dissolved business names on it. That is the place to start searching to see if the DBA name you want is available. To search for available names, follow these steps:
Understand the state’s naming rules
Louisiana is stricter about the uniqueness of DBA names when compared to other states. The state approves the request only if the DBA is considered “distinguishable” or different from another LLC name, a trade name, or a corporate name being used in Louisiana.
Practically, you should want your DBA name to be unique for marketing and legal purposes.
Check on name availability
Those seeking to establish a DBA should check for name availability against all state-registered names to ensure their name is unique. Besides checking with the Louisiana Secretary of State’s office, you should compare your proposed DBA name against business licenses at the county clerk’s office.
The county clerk will have a list of DBA businesses that may not be registered with the state. You also can search for the name online to see if any other Louisiana businesses are using it anywhere.
Go to the Louisiana Secretary of State’s page to search online. More specifically, go to the business entity search page and type the name you want into the search box.
It’s a free tool so you can check as many names as you want.
Review the search results
The results will show you any exact matches or similar names to the name you selected when compared to all registered Louisiana businesses. Even if there aren’t any exact matches, you don’t want your proposed name to be too similar because that will get your DBA application denied.
Register a name you like
You can reserve a DBA name in Louisiana for up to 120 days for $25. Forms for DBA and legal entity registration can be found here. You can file forms online, mail them, or submit them in person.
However, reserving a name is not the same as registering it. If you reserve it, you’re just holding the name. If you plan to use the name as part of your business, you need to register it.
Have a name in mind? Check on name availability first here.
How to register a DBA in Louisiana
The State of Louisiana allows you to find its business forms on one portal, so you won’t have to do endless searches. You will need to first create an account to access all the forms and information on the site.
Those who want to file a trademark may also want to consult an attorney to ensure the process is done legally and properly. You will also want to check to see if you need to file your trademark with the state as well.
Create a business checklist
The website portal has a wizard that helps you create a checklist of all you need to do to create a startup. Those who already have a business should already be registered and can navigate to the other forms through the Secretary of State’s office link on the site.
Go to the local parish Clerk of Court’s office
DBA names are not registered with the state Secretary of State’s office but at the local parish Clerk of Court’s office. You may be able to print out the forms from the state, but you will need to submit them locally.
Pay the fee
You’ll pay $75 to register the DBA. You can pay using a debit card, credit card, or money order.
Use resources to get questions answered
Entrepreneurs with questions can find many answers here. You can also call the Secretary of State’s office at 225-925-4704. or in writing at:
Louisiana Secretary of State
P.O. Box 94125
Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9125
Ready to register your DBA? Find your form here.
What comes next
Picking your DBA name and getting it registered is important but doing that doesn’t mean you are ready to launch your business. You must handle other responsibilities to ensure your business is operating properly.
Open up a business checking account
The first thing you should do after getting an approved DBA name is open a business bank account. You will probably need a trade name certificate from the state or county clerk’s office to do that as many banks require it for DBAs. A business bank account will go a long way to protecting your personal assets as it separates money for the business from private money. This will also be beneficial if you ever decide to get a loan or are required to go through an audit.
Get an EIN
You may need an EIN or a federal employer identification number to file separate taxes as a DBA. An EIN is a number assigned to your business by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). It’s easy to obtain and is required when you file federal taxes, hire employees, and even to handle other financial business.
Check state tax requirements
Taxes for your business could be different in Louisiana. It will serve you well to make sure you understand the state tax code, when tax filings are required, and when taxes are due. Check to make sure you’re aware of the requirements by clicking here. All tax forms are filed with the Louisiana Department of Revenue.
Check with state insurance and hiring requirements
It is always the state that sets insurance laws, so they can be different in every state. Louisiana requires worker’s compensation for even those who only have one worker.
Part-time, seasonal, family members, and full-time workers are all viewed the same as employment status for worker’s compensation insurance.
Something else to research is business liability insurance as well as property insurance. Louisiana doesn’t require that businesses carry these, but they will protect your company in crucial times.
Also, many business clients and commercial landlords require these types of insurance. All vehicles must also be adequately insured according to Louisiana auto insurance laws.
Set up your business goals and policies
Small business owners, from sole proprietors to LLCs, should have a business plan with a mission statement, policies, and a business structure laid out. This is important to future growth, training employees, and even gaining possible investors.
Establish a marketing plan
A new DBA needs to start with a marketing plan to promote your business and attract customers. Creating a new business name is the perfect time to hit hard with branding and marketing so make a plan that includes the internet, radio, television, and local newspaper ads. Keeping your new name out front for everyone to see is important to increased revenues and your Louisiana brand.
Connect with resources for help
Small business owners and startups in Louisiana get a lot of support from the state government in resources, education, and free advice. Business resources include the Louisiana Small Business Development Center (SBDC), Louisiana Economic Development, and the LDEQ Small Business Assistance Program.
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 name from the business name to protect personal assets. This way anyone who sues must sue the business and not the person owning the business. It also helps clarify records in case of a federal IRS audit.
Any type of legal business entity can do business under a DBA, and many do it to build a branded image. Others use a DBA because they have multiple niche businesses they wish to keep as separate legal entities. The idea is to keep a DBA name separated from the legal name, which can be a company name or a personal name. The name of the business is one of the most important things you can do.
Why would entrepreneurs choose to set up a DBA in Louisiana?
Louisiana has a lot of advantages for those wanting to start a small business there. Its tourism ranks high, and the state has a lot of natural resources. Some other advantages of doing business in Louisiana are listed below.
- Louisiana has low costs in obtaining commercial facilities.
- The state has low energy costs, making it affordable to do business.
- It has lower taxes.
- Louisiana has a skilled workforce ready to start work.
- The state is logistically situated for distribution including interstate, highways, rivers, and access to the Gulf ports, as well as trains and airports.
Cost to get a DBA set up
Louisiana isn’t the cheapest place to register a DBA but it doesn’t require renewals for 10 years.
- DBA registrations are $75 each.
- Expedited service is an additional $300.
What is the difference between a trade name and a DBA in Louisiana?
A trade name is a group of words with a symbol, device, or emblem to identify a business, a person, or an occupation. A DBA is an alias name used to do business. The trade name has some copyright protection. A DBA name does not, but Louisiana does mandate that all names be unique, so it’s yours once you claim me.
How do I get a certificate of good standing in Louisiana?
You can obtain copies of your certificate of good standing here. The code at the bottom allows you to print out as many as you need with the same date for 120 days.
Are there specific rules in Louisiana about what can be in a DBA name?
Yes, besides the fact that a name must be unique, you can’t have works like LLC, Inc., bank, or trust company unless it is one of those types of businesses.
Can I change my DBA in Louisiana?
Yes, you can change your DBA name, but you will need to call the commercial division of the Secretary of State’s office for more information. That number is (225) 925-4704.
Is a DBA registration required in Louisiana?
Yes, a DBA registration is required for any company doing business under any name other than its legally registered name.
What if I don’t want the hassle of all the paperwork of filling a DBA in Louisiana?
Professional companies will do all the paperwork for you for a fee. Just make sure they are authorized to do business in the state.
Can I transfer my DBA to Louisiana?
Yes, you can transfer a DBA name to the state. You will need to fill out a form found here and pay $75.
Does Louisiana limit the number of DBAs a business can have?
No, the state has no limit to the number of DBAs you can have, but each one will require separate paperwork, a separate fee, and additional paperwork regarding taxes.
Start a Limited Liability Company Online Today
Click on the state below to get started.