How to Set Up a DBA in Oklahoma
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 Oklahoma.
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Small businesses are an essential part of Oklahoma’s economy, providing employment opportunities, driving innovation, and contributing to the local communities. The state is home to a diverse range of small businesses, including retail stores, restaurants, manufacturing companies, and service providers. Before opening a startup in Oklahoma, you will need to consider a range of factors, including your business’s name. If you want to operate under a name different than the legal name of the business, you will also need to learn how to complete the Oklahoma DBA registration process.
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 Oklahoma
While you may already have a DBA name in mind for your business, it is important for you to choose a name that fits both your business needs and the state requirements for the name of your business. You will want to do some research before committing to a trade name so that you are sure it is usable.
Search Oklahoma’s name database
The Oklahoma Business Name Search website will allow you to type in your name, or a part of it, and see what existing businesses in the state have used it. Because all business names must be unique, if your name appears, it cannot be used. If you do not get a result, the name is available for you.
Review naming guidelines
Oklahoma has a set of naming requirements that apply to trade names and all other business names. It is important that your name is accurate to the type of business you run, which means it cannot imply another business purpose or that it is a government agency. You also cannot use certain words (like savings, loan, savings bank) without proper approval.
The business entity suffix you choose must also be appropriate. A sole proprietorship will not have any suffix at all, but your LLC or corporation is required to have one. However, this must also be an accurate suffix. For example, the word “incorporation” can be used on a business formed as a corporation, but not as an LLC.
Think like a customer
While your name does not have to be unique across other states, it can be helpful to search for it online and see what comes up. A customer is likely to do this, and it can help you understand what they will see and if there are competitors with this name. Pay special attention to things like website URLs and social media names that you may want to use.
Have a name in mind? Check on name availability first here.
How to register a DBA in Oklahoma
Once you have chosen your name and confirmed it can be used in Oklahoma, you are ready to complete the process of a DBA filing. It is managed through the Secretary of State’s office and can be completed online if you prefer.
Complete the Trade Name Report form
To register a new DBA in Oklahoma, you need to fill out the Trade Name Report form, either online or by printing it out. This form will ask you for information like the trade name you’re registering, the description of your business, and the type of business entity you formed it under. You will also need to provide the legal name of your business.
Properly file your form
You can either submit the form through the Secretary of State’s website, or mail it to their office along with the filing fee.
After you have filed the form, you can expect a turnaround time of 1 to 2 business days online, or 7 to 10 business days by mail. Oklahoma does not offer an expedited service for this, so be sure to take these timeframes into consideration when necessary.
Ready to register your DBA? Fill out these forms.
What comes next
Ready to get your business up and running? Here are additional tasks to consider:
Consider getting an EIN
An EIN (Employer Identification Number) is a unique identification number assigned by the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) to businesses and organizations for tax purposes. It is also known as a Federal Tax Identification Number (FTIN).
If you are a small business owner, you may need an EIN if you:
- Have employees: If you have employees, you are required to have an EIN for payroll tax purposes.
- Operate as a partnership or corporation: Partnerships and corporations are required to have an EIN.
- File certain types of tax returns: If you file certain tax returns, such as employment taxes, excise taxes, or alcohol, tobacco, and firearms taxes, you will need an EIN.
- Open a business bank account: Most banks require an EIN to open a business bank account.
- Are involved in certain types of organizations: Nonprofit organizations, estates, trusts, and certain types of businesses that are subject to certain tax regulations may need an EIN.
If you don’t meet any of the above requirements, you may not need an EIN. However, it’s always a good idea to consult with a tax professional or the IRS to determine if an EIN is necessary for your business or organization.
If you plan to get an EIN, you can do so on the IRS website.
Obtain licenses and permits
If your Oklahoma business sells tangible taxable goods or taxable services, you will need to have a sales tax license (also known as a seller’s permit). This is the only state level general requirement, which allows businesses to collect and remit sales taxes on their behalf. However, some industries and professions will need to have additional licenses and permits.
Localities can also set licensing requirements. Be sure to contact the county clerk’s office where you operate to see what business licenses and permits you will need in the future.
Open a business bank account
If you have a business, it is generally a good idea to have a separate bank account for your business transactions. Some reasons why can be:
- Legal and tax requirements: In many cases, it is a legal requirement to have a separate bank account for your business, especially if you have legal protections like those that come with an LLC. Having a separate account can also make it easier to keep track of your business expenses and revenue for tax purposes.
- Professionalism: Having a separate bank account can make your business appear more professional to your clients and suppliers.
- Organizational benefits: Separating your business and personal finances can make it easier to manage your cash flow, track expenses, and monitor profits and losses.
- Safety and security: Separating your business and personal finances can help protect your personal assets in the event of a legal dispute or financial difficulty.
- Growth: A bank account gives you access to other financial resources that might be useful, like credit cards and lenders that can help you to establish a credit profile.
Overall, having a separate bank account for your business can provide many benefits and is a good idea if you are running a business.
Keep your DBA current
Oklahoma does not require any renewal for its trade names. However, you will need to file the appropriate forms to withdraw or amend your trade name, so if this becomes necessary, be sure you keep your record updated appropriately.
Who is a DBA best for?
Not all businesses will have a 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 general 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 personal name.
- 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 a 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 Oklahoma?
Entrepreneurs may choose to set up a DBA (Doing Business As) in Oklahoma for several reasons:
- Simplicity and flexibility: Setting up a DBA in Oklahoma is relatively simple and straightforward. It requires minimal paperwork and does not involve complex legal procedures. DBAs are also flexible and can be registered by both individuals and businesses.p
- Cost: Registering a DBA in Oklahoma is also relatively inexpensive compared to other business structures such as a corporation or LLC. This can be an advantage for entrepreneurs who are just starting and have limited funds.
- Branding: A DBA allows entrepreneurs to use a business name that is different from their own name. This can be beneficial for entrepreneurs who want to build a brand and establish a distinct identity for their businesses.
- Market expansion: If an entrepreneur wants to expand their business into other areas or markets, they may set up a DBA in Oklahoma to operate under a different name in that region.
- Legal protection: Registering a DBA in Oklahoma can provide some legal protection for the entrepreneur by allowing them to operate under a different name without creating a separate legal entity such as a corporation or LLC.
The exact benefits of creating a new DBA will vary based on your business structure and goals, but it is typically the easier choice when facing the prospect of naming your new business.
Cost to get a DBA set up
The filing fee for Oklahoma trade names is $25, which can be paid by check or credit card, depending on the method you use to file. This is the primary DBA cost, though you will also need to pay for the initial formation of the business and any requirements like licenses moving forward.
How can I change my Oklahoma trade name?
Once you have completed your DBA registration, it cannot be changed. Instead, you would file for a new DBA using an Amended Trade Name Report, which requires a $25 filing fee. You can also withdraw your old trade name.
Can I use a DBA in Oklahoma without registering it?
No, it is not legal to operate a business under a name other than its legal name in Oklahoma unless you have completed the trade name registration. Failing to do so can lead to fines, legal penalties, and a loss of your business.
What information do I need to form a DBA in Oklahoma?
The Trade Name Report form will require the business owner to provide their own name and address, the legal name and address of the business, the purpose of the business, and the fictitious business name they plan to use.
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