How to Set Up a DBA in Minnesota

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 Minnesota.

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What is a 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, and 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. When you register for LLCs, general partnerships, or any type of business entity, acquiring a DBA is a good way to start. 

How to search DBA names in Minnesota

One of the first things you should know about setting up a DBA is how to search for business names in Minnesota. Every DBA name should be unique, which is why you need to search the database for business names, and here is how to do it:

1
Visit the Secretary of State website in Minnesota

The database for all registered businesses in Minnesota is on their Secretary of State website, and you can use their name search tool to find out whether the name you thought of for your business is free to use. 

2
See if the name you want is available

Let’s say you already have an assumed name for your business. To check if that name is available, all you need to do is type the name word-for-word on the search bar and click on search. 

3
Check the results

There will be generated results of related terms, but that doesn’t mean that the name you chose is not available. Just make sure that the results don’t have an exact match to the name you typed in the search bar. If there is no exact match, that means you can register that name for your DBA. However, some states have standards when choosing the name of businesses, so make sure it fits the requirements. 

4
Consider reserving the business name for future use

In the state of Minnesota, you can reserve a business name for 12 months if you are not ready to file for a DBA soon. However, you should note that reserving the name does not register it, it is simply a way to reserve the name so that no one else can register the name within the given time period. 

5
Fill out the Name Reservation form

If you decide to reserve the name first, you can fill out the Name Reservation Form here. It will cost $55 for expedited services when you file online or in person, and the filing fee is $35 by mail. 

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

Cost to get a DBA set up

Business filings, such as getting a name certificate for your assumed business name, cannot be done online. However, if you don’t have the time to visit the local county clerk’s office, you can still file through mail, and the fee is $30.

Although it might take several weeks to be processed, the registration fee is a lot cheaper via mail compared to the $55 filing fee when you do it in person. If you are in a rush to get your DBA set up, doing it in person is quicker, especially if you have all the forms ready, which we will show you on the next section of this guide. 

How to register a DBA in Minnesota

If you are ready to register your DBA or assumed name in Minnesota, filing and getting your name certificate is easy. Just follow these steps, and your small business will be ready in no time.

1
Fill out the Assumed Name form

The first step is to get the Assumed Name Form and file out all the details here. The information you need to input is pretty straightforward, such as the exact name of the business, business address, list of names, complete addresses of the business owners, etc.

2
Submit the form via mail or go to the local county clerk’s office

As of today, you cannot register your DBA online, but you can do it via mail, which costs $30. If you need your DBA faster, you can do it in person, which will cost $50. You can pay with cash, credit card, and check in person. However, if you are filing via mail, you need to pay with a cashier’s check payable to the MN Secretary of State. 

3
If there was a mistake with the first filling, you can amend them with a different filing

If you accidentally used the wrong name or information on your first filling, you don’t need to file again. All you need to do is fill out the Amendment to Assumed Name form here. For cancellations of assumed name filing, you can fill out this form here

4
Wait for your assumed name certificate to arrive

It will take several weeks to process via mail, hence the lower cost. But if you file in-person, expect the name certificate to arrive in 5 to 10 business days. Once you have your DBA, you can now open your business, get the necessary business permits, and open a business bank account. 

Ready to register your DBA? Fill out these forms.

What comes next

Having a DBA might not be the only thing you need to run your business, which is why we listed down the next steps you need to take to legally operate your business in Minnesota.

1
Get a domain name

Most businesses generate leads and get discovered online. Since most people are on the internet these days, the chances of getting your business discovered by people are higher if you have a website. Although some businesses are fine with having social media accounts, having your own domain will make your business look more legitimate.

To get a domain or website, you need to buy a domain name and sign up for a web hosting service. On your website, you can list down your products and services for people to learn more about your small business. 

2
Get an EIN or employer identification number

If you plan on hiring people to help you operate your business, you will need to get an EIN from the IRS, which is pretty easy. Just go to the IRS website and file for an EIN, and you can get one in no time, as long as your DBA is already registered.

3
Get the necessary permits and business licenses

Although you don’t need to register your small business with the state of Minnesota, you still need to get the local business permits to operate legally. The types of permits will vary depending on the nature of your business, so make sure you visit the Minnesota Employment and Economic Development Website to get all the information you need regarding the business license.  

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 is different from an LLC or any other business entity. While your LLC is a formal business structure, a DBA is just another name your business can operate under. However, an LLC is a legal entity that can also 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 Minnesota?

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 Minnesota:

  • 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 changing their original name, whether 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.
  • A separate company or trade name is essential for small business owners to start a brand.
  • It allows you to separate personal assets from business assets.

FAQs

Does Minnesota require a DBA?

In Minnesota, any sole proprietor, corporation, limited liability company, general partnership, limited partnership, and other business entities are required to set up a registered name if they choose to do business under a different name other than their full legal name. However, if you wish to do business under your legal name, you don’t need to register for a new DBA.

Does a DBA need to be registered with the IRS?

Whether a DBA has an employer identification number (EIN) or not, they still need to report their new name to the IRS for tax purposes. However, getting an EIN is easy and has many benefits, which can be ideal for your business. 

How does a DBA file for taxes?

A DBA is reported on Schedule C tax returns. It will be reported on your personal 1040 tax return, and the business income and expenses will be entered in Schedule C. All of the profits you generate from the DBA are subject to self-employment tax on top of the taxes from other income sources, such as employment. 

Can a DBA have a business bank account?

Once you open your DBA, you can open a business bank account under your trade name in Minnesota. However, before you open a bank account, you need to be assigned a federal tax ID number, which will permit you to open the said business bank account under your DBA.

How much will it cost to open a business in Minnesota?

If you are setting up a small business, you can open and operate with a DBA, which is the cheapest way to start a business. The filing fee for a DBA at the Secretary of State’s office is $30 to $50. As for business expenses, you can get funding from lenders if you have a solid business plan. 

Find out how to set up your DBA

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