How to Start a DBA in Nevada
When you think of businesses in Nevada, the first thing that comes to mind is probably a large casino and bright flashing lights on the Las Vegas Strip. But outside of the city, Nevada is a burgeoning haven for new businesses, from corporations to sole proprietorships. Whether you want to be a part of Sin City or the more modern-day old west of the rest of Nevada, you can choose to start a business under a name that best fits you through the DBA filing process. Here’s how to start a DBA in Nevada:
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What is a DBA?
The acronym “DBA” stands for “doing business as” and is used to refer to a business operating under a different name from its legally registered name. Different states use a variety of terms to refer to this concept, like “fictitious name”, “assumed name”, or “trade name”, but they all amount to the same concept.
A DBA is the name that will be used for operations of your business. It’s what you may see on signage and business cards, what customers will know you by, and what you will use on most documents. But with a DBA in place, your business’s true legal name remains something else, usually the legal name of the owner.
How to search DBA names in Nevada
The naming regulations in Nevada are slightly different than in other states. Registering your fictitious business name doesn’t give you exclusive use of the name, even within the state. Instead, the purpose is to put your name on record and notify others of the name. It is still recommended to choose a unique name, but the state does not enforce this. There are still other important things to check, however.
Review state naming guidelines
Nevada has a wide range of naming rules that apply to all business names, including fictitious names. These include:
- Business entity suffixes, like LLC or Incorporation, may only be used when the business is formed as such.
- Many restricted words require approval from the relevant state agency – for example, you cannot use the word “mortgage” without approval from the Commissioner of Mortgage in Nevada.
- The name of your business must accurately reflect the business purpose you have stated.
- Names cannot include any inappropriate words.
Local naming guidelines
Since you will register your DBA with a county clerk, you should always check their website to see if they maintain a name database. Most counties will not have additional naming regulations, but you can double-check with the county clerk’s office to be sure.
While there are no restrictions on businesses sharing a name in Nevada or across states, you want to be sure the name you choose stands out for customers. Searching a potential name online can help you see what a customer might experience when looking for you and determine if you may struggle to appear on searches. Look for what website domain URLs, social media usernames, and branding materials are still available to determine if a name is a viable fit from a marketing perspective.
How to register a DBA in Nevada
After choosing a name, you can file for a fictitious firm name, as it is called in Nevada. While the Secretary of State regulates the process, filing is done through the county or counties where you do business. Each county has a very similar process, though they may vary slightly. You will need to complete registration in every county where you may do business.
As an example, the following steps are how you can register a DBA in Clark County:
There are two forms in Nevada that act as a Fictitious Firm Name Statement Form, one for all types of business except LLCs and one for LLCs.
You can either choose to complete the form in person at the county clerk’s office or to complete it on your own and have it notarized. If you do the latter, you will then need to mail the form to the clerk or bring it in personally. There is no option to do so online.
This process needs to be replicated in every county where you may do business. Different counties may require additional records, notarization, or publication in local newspaper circulations.
Ready to register your DBA? Fill out these forms.
What comes next
With names finalized and papers filed, you’re ready to launch your business. Before making your first sale, review this to-do list:
Consider getting an EIN
The Internal Revenue Service is responsible for federal taxes, including those paid by businesses. In order to track all the taxes due to them and paid, each business can be issued an Employer Identification Number (EIN) that acts as a unique tax ID.
You will want to determine whether your business requires an EIN. If you have any employees or pay excise taxes, for example, this will be required. Business structures that are separate legal entities, like a corporation, must also have an EIN.
But even if you do not need an EIN, it can be useful to have one. They are free to obtain and offer a less risky way to share a tax ID than using your personal Social Security Number; it is also likely you may need an EIN to open a business bank account or credit card, as well as to apply for some licenses.
If you plan to get an EIN, you can do so on the IRS website.
Obtain licenses and permits
The majority of businesses in Nevada will need to have a general state business license to operate. Some exceptions exist, like nonprofit corporations and home-based businesses that make less than two-thirds of the average annual wage. If your business does not qualify for an exception, you can obtain a state-level business license online through SilverFlume.
Nevada also requires a sales tax permit or seller’s permit for businesses that intend to sell or lease taxable goods. This can also be obtained on SilverFlume.
Each city and county can also create its own rules and requirements for licensing. For example, the City of Las Vegas requires even home-based businesses that are exempt from state business licenses to have a city business license. Always check with the town or county government where your business operates to be sure you are not missing any important documents.
Open a business bank account
While opening a business bank account can be helpful and make your accounting processes smoother, it can also offer some businesses a range of legal protections.
When you form a business as an LLC, one of the benefits is personal asset protection. This means that if your LLC owes fees or debts, your personal assets cannot be seized to pay them. Part of this separation is afforded because it is assumed your business is a separate legal entity from yourself and other owners. If you are found to be combining your finances, this can be degraded, and you may end up responsible for the business’s obligations. Having a business bank account is a great way to show division here.
Along with a basic checking account for income and expenses, many business owners also choose to establish credit in their business’s name. Just like your personal credit score, a company can also have a credit score. Using these bank accounts can help you attract creditors and investors as your business grows.
Keep your DBA current
Across all Nevada counties, a fictitious firm name is good for five years after it has been filed. To renew it, you must complete the same Fictitious Firm Name Statement Form and submit a $25 filing fee to the county or counties where you filed originally. Most counties also have forms allowing you to withdraw or change your name.
Who is a DBA best for?
Not all businesses will need to use a DBA. Along with state-specific requirements, the legal structure of your business and the owners’ personal preference will be major factors in whether this is necessary.
When it comes to business structures, the legal process for registering your business may indicate whether a DBA is useful. The most common uses of a DBA are:
- Sole proprietorships and partnerships will be registered by default under the name of their owner. Since there is no formal paperwork to name the business, there is no other name that it could be listed as. In this case, a DBA would allow the business to have a publicly-facing name other than your own.
- Franchises often use a DBA to establish their business as a local one. For example, you may own a local McDonald’s, and will need to register it as something like an LLC or corporation. The business may then be called ABC Burgers, but a DBA would allow you to operate as “McDonald’s” to tie you to the parent company.
Other business structures, like an limited liability company or corporation, do not usually need to use a DBA. This is because part of registering these businesses includes choosing a name, which can be anything. Some localities may require this, but it is rare. These businesses can always choose to register a DBA if they choose.
Why would entrepreneurs choose to set up a DBA in Nevada?
Companies may need to operate under a different name than their legal name for various reasons, some logistical and some about marketing or branding. The process of using a fictitious firm name in Nevada is simple so that this is accessible to businesses of all sizes and needs.
Some common reasons an entrepreneur may choose a DBA to include the following:
- Privacy: If a sole proprietorship or general partnership does not have a DBA, it will operate under the owner’s own name. If they do not want to publicly use their name, a DBA allows them to keep that private.
- Distinction: Some personal names are very common, and it can be confusing for multiple businesses to be called “John Smith” in one area. A DBA allows someone to choose a new, unique name that helps their business stand out.
- Accounts: Banks and lenders may ask for a DBA before they allow a sole proprietor or partnership to open a bank account.
- New branches: If a business is operating under one name and wants to expand into other markets, a DBA can allow them to maintain a single legal entity while still choosing a name that reflects its new area of work.
- Franchises: A franchisee may need to register their business as something unique in their state, but a DBA could allow them to operate under a more well-known brand name.
- Simplicity: If a legal name is long, hard to spell, or otherwise confusing, a DBA can help the business use a more simple name.
Whatever reason you have for pursuing a fictitious firm name, the process is simple and fast so as to not create additional burdens.
Cost to get a DBA set up
The basic filing fee for a DBA in Nevada is $25, which is applied to all counties. You can also pay $6 for a certified copy of your name certificate and $.50 for each additional copy you request.
Do you file a DBA with the Nevada Secretary of State?
No, all fictitious firm name filings in Nevada are done at the county level. While the state sets out most regulations, you must complete the filing in every county where you may do business. The process may vary slightly by location.
What is the processing time for a Nevada DBA?
While processing time varies by county, the average is 7 to 10 business days. Many Nevada counties do not offer online registration, meaning the process takes longer than those that do.
Can someone else use the same DBA in Nevada?
Nevada does not make fictitious firm names exclusive. This means that two businesses could use the same DBA across the state. You would need a trademark to have exclusive rights to the name of the business.
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