How to Start a DBA in New York
Whether you plan to start a business in the Big Apple or want to launch a smaller business in Upstate, there’s plenty of room for entrepreneurs to start – and grow – a business. Many business owners opt to start with a DBA, which gives small business owners the chance to name their businesses. In New York, it’s called an assumed name. All assumed names are registered at the state level, so you’ll need to file paperwork with the Department of State. Ready to learn how? We have a complete guide that will help you name your business, register an assumed name, and learn helpful tips to get your business up and running in the Empire State.
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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.
In New York, it’s an assumed name.
An assumed name is a name that’s used for business operations. 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 an assumed name in place, your business’s true legal name remains something else, usually the personal name of the owner.
How do you pick a name for your New York DBA?
Starting a business is no small endeavor. It requires a lot of hard work. Before you start creating marketing materials or designing a logo, you need a name. What do you want to call your New York business?
While it might seem simple to pick a name, there are certain rules you have to follow. Here’s what you need to know:
Brainstorm a handful of names
Plan to create five business names. Why? Now two names can be alike. You’ll need to check on name availability. If a name is already taken, you’ll need another choice.
If you need help creating a list, consider using online name generators. To use them, you simply add keywords about your business, and it will provide a list of potential names. It’s a good tool for name inspiration.
Check on a domain name
You’ll want your business name and domain name to match. Check on domain name availability before you move forward. If a domain name isn’t available, you should reprioritize your list of names.
Check on name availability
The state keeps a running list of all registered businesses – including DBAs – on file. Before you submit a DBA with your preferred business name, you have to make sure it’s not already in use.
In New York, no two businesses can have the same name. How do you research your name? Visit the Department of State Division of Corporations website and use the search tool.
The search tool has quite a bit of functionality. Besides searching for a name, you can also search by entity type or business functionality.
Have a name in mind? Check its availability on the state website.
Review the search results
If a name you entered comes up in the search results, there’s already a business using that name. If that happens, you must pick another name from your list.
If you try to move forward with a DBA filing, or in this case, an assumed name filing, with a duplicate name, your application will be rejected.
Move on to registration
Once you have an available name, you can move on to register the business name with the state.
How to register an assumed name in New York
In some states, DBA registration is handled at the county level. In New York, however, all assumed names are registered at the state level.
Registering a business name with state officials is fairly simple and can be done online in a matter of minutes – provided you have all of the necessary information ready to go.
Here’s how to register an assumed name in New York:
Visit the NYS website
To register, you’ll go to the Department of State website. On the site, you’ll find a form that you need to fill out and submit electronically.
Ready to register an assumed name in NY? Get the form here.
Be prepared to fill out the form
The form is fairly short, but you’ll need a few key pieces of information. The form asks for:
- Real name of the entity
- Assumed name of entity
- Business address (physical location, not a P.O. box)
- Principal county of business – all counties are listed, you’ll check the appropriate box or boxes
- Address of any additional locations
- Name and address of the filer
Note you don’t need to list a registered agent on the form. A registered agent, which serves as as an official point of contact for your business, is only requested on Articles of Organization or Articles of Incorporation, which are formation documents used for LLCs and corporations.
Pay a filing fee and submit the paperwork
Be prepared to pay a $25 filing fee. There is an additional $25 fee tacked on for each county your company will conduct business in.
As mentioned above, startups must select the primary county that they plan to serve. Each county you select is an additional $25 fee.
You can pay with a debit or credit card.
Once complete, you’ll submit the document to the state.
Wait for approval
The state will review your application within a week, but you can pay an additional fee to expedite the process. Once approved, you can use the business name in an official capacity.
Can an LLC or a corporation register an assumed name in NY?
Yes. Any business entity can register an assumed name with the state. A limited liability company or a corporation might decide to register an assumed name during a rebrand or may want a simplified version of its current name.
The same rules apply. The small business owner must ensure the proposed business name is available and then register it through the state website. The forms are the same, as is the filing fee.
If you’ve decided to launch a business and have taken the steps to file an assumed name in New York, you’re on your way to becoming your own boss. Here are the next steps to consider:
Get a business plan written
Do you have a business plan? Even if you run a small online business from your garage, every business needs a plan. Business plans are considered a road map to success. It describes your business, identifies competitors and your target audience, estimates income and expenses, and provides a marketing plan.
There are plenty of free templates online that you can use to get started.
If you plan to ask for funding from a bank or lenders, you’ll need a solid business plan in place.
Get an EIN from the IRS
Some startups aren’t required to get an EIN, or employer identification number. Its primary purpose is to file taxes as a business, but it’s also needed if you plan to hire employees, offer benefits like a 401(k), or open business bank accounts.
Most small businesses do get an EIN.
If you’d like to get one, you visit the IRS website, fill out a quick form, and receive a nine-digit number immediately.
This number won’t change. It’s like a social security number for your business.
Get your EIN today on the IRS website.
Research necessary permits and business licenses
Many New York businesses need permits and licenses, which are issued by multiple government agencies. Your business may need permits issued by both the state and the county, for example.
For more help, the state has a useful resource that you can review.
Does your business need a permit or special license to operate in New York? Find out.
Educate yourself on state taxes
If you have a business, it impacts how your pay taxes. It might be a simple change with a few additional forms or write-offs, or it could be a full-scale change that makes self-filing tricky.
Before tax season, review the New York state tax laws and speak with an accountant to see what the process is.
Who is a DBA best for?
Sole proprietorships often use DBA names so they can separate their personal name from the business name to protect personal assets. General partnerships use it for the same reason, and so all partnerships can monitor business dealings.
Any type of legal business entity can do business under a DBA, and many do it to build a branded image or because they have multiple niche businesses they wish to keep as separate legal entities. The idea is to keep a DBA name 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?
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:
- 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, which also allows you to create a business bank account under an assumed name other than your legal name.
- Existing companies can use a DBA to do a rebrand without having to change their original name, whether it is an incorporation or LLC.
- A DBA offers privacy protection since you can do business under a different name.
- A DBA will make your business more legitimate and trustworthy, which is essential for growing your client base.
To file an assumed name in New York, do you need to visit the county clerk?
No. All assumed names are registered with the state, not the county. You don’t need to visit the county clerk’s office.
Is an assumed name the same as an LLC?
No. An assumed name registers a name that’s different than your own name or the registered name that’s on file. An LLC is a separate type of business structure.
What’s the benefit of an LLC over an assumed name?
An LLC offers liability protections, which can safeguard your personal assets. If, for example, your company is sued, your personal assets (like your home or bank account) can’t be used to bail out the business.
What does a DBA cost to set up?
In New York, DBAs are called assumed names. The cost to register an assumed name with the state is $25, plus a $25 fee for the primary county or counties that you serve.
What makes a good assumed name?
A good business name is relevant to your company, easy to pronounce, and memorable. A name shouldn’t be rushed. Brainstorm different ideas and ask friends and potential customers for feedback before you register it.
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