How to Set Up a DBA in Utah
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 Utah.
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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.
A DBA 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 a DBA in place, your business’s true legal name remains something else, usually the personal name of the owner.
How to do a name search for a Utah DBA
Do you have a company name in mind? Even if you have the perfect name picked out, you have to see if the name is already in use. If it is, you can’t use it. No two businesses can have the same name in Utah. Here’s what you should know about naming your new business:
Check the state’s database
The State of Utah keeps a record of all businesses in the state, including DBAs. You need to enter the name you’d like to use into this search tool to see if it’s available.
Check on name availability in the state of Utah.
Review the matches
Take a look at your search results. Are there any businesses that already exist with the name you want? If so, it’s time to brainstorm new ideas. If you try to complete your DBA registration with a name that’s already in use, the state will reject your application.
Every business name must be unique.
Know the rules
In Utah, when you create a business name, you can’t:
- Use a name that’s already in existence
- Tweak or adjust a name slightly to make it different
- Mislead the public in any way
- Use any government-affiliated names like FBI or Environmental Protection Agency
Reserve the name if you don’t plan to register it
If the name you want is available, but you don’t have plans to file the DBA paperwork with the state immediately, you can reserve the name. By filing a name reservation, you can hold a name for 120 days for $22.
What does “hold” mean? It means no other business can use the name. It’s essentially put on hold until you’re ready to register it. You can renew the reservation after 120 days too.
You do not need to reserve the name if you plan to register it. Once it’s registered, it’s yours to use so there’s no need to reserve it.
Want to reserve a business name in Utah? Here’s the form you need.
How to register a DBA in Utah
The state has DBA registration streamlined. All small business owners register their assumed name on the state website. The process does require you to create an account. Here are the steps to follow and links you’ll need to take action:
Go to Utah’s Division of Corporations and Commercial Code
On the state’s website, you can find the necessary forms to fill out. Start your filing process here.
Create an account
Through the state’s website, you’ll create an account. With a dedicated login, you’ll be able to submit your application, pay the filing fee, and track your application. You’ll be asked to provide basic information to create your account, like your name and contact information, along with a username and password.
Fill out all paperwork
Through the online system, you’ll follow the prompts to fill out the documents. The DBA paperwork is pretty straightforward and usually includes:
- New assumed name
- Business address
- Point of contact
- Contact information
- Signature of owner
Pay the DBA filing fee
Every kind of business registration comes with a filing fee. In Utah, the fee is $22.
Reach out with questions
If you have any questions about the process, you can reach out to the Utah Department of Commerce’s Division of Corporations and Commercial Code: (801) 530-4849 or (877) 526-3994.
Wait for state approval
The state will take three to five business days to approve your application. You can see the progress in your account.
Congrats on registering a business name with the state. Now, you’re on to the next steps. You need to think about things like an EIN, paying state taxes, and obtaining the necessary licenses.
Here’s what to consider as you build your business from the ground up:
Get an EIN from the IRS
The IRS issues EINs, or employer identification numbers. Not every business needs an EIN, but if you plan to hire employees or open a business bank account, you’ll need one. Obtaining the number is easy. You simply visit the IRS website, answer a few questions, and get a number on the spot.
Open a business bank account
Your next task on the to-do list is to open a business checking and savings account.
Some business owners assume they don’t need a separate account if their business is only generating a few hundred dollars a year, but that’s not true. Any business, of any size, should keep its income and expenses separate.
If you make a $40 sale, that money should go directly into the business checking account. If you spend $10 on marketing flyers, it should come out of the business account.
When tax time arrives, you’ll have a clean ledger of transactions that clearly show income and expenses.
Not only is it a good business practice, but it will prevent you from sifting through transactions one line at a time.
Research possible business licenses
Every state, county, and city has its own business license requirements. You need to check with each entity. Start your search on Utah’s Division of Professional Licensing.
Build a company website
To reach customers and promote your business, you’ll need a website. To start, you need to buy a domain name. The domain name should match your DBA name. With a name purchased, you can build your site. Consider using a DIY site builder to get a site up and running quickly.
You’ll need web hosting too, which is an ongoing cost. A lot of website builders combine all of these services, so you can buy a name, design a site, and set up web hosting all in one place.
Social media accounts coincide with the website. Consider setting those up at the same time.
Learn about taxes
As a business, the way you file taxes may change. If you’re a sole prop with a DBA registered with the state, you’ll likely pay income taxes on your business’ profits on your personal tax returns. If your business is registered as an LLC with a DBA on file, that alters your tax process too. Every business is different. You should talk with an accountant about your specific tax situation.
The state offers tax information on its website, which is a good place for new owners to begin their research.
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 or 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.
Do I need to file a DBA with the county probate in Utah?
Many states issue DBAs not through the state department, but through local county clerk’s offices. Utah, however, issues assumed names through the state, so there is a single process and single filing fee. While counties may require other licenses, you will not need to re-register your assumed name locally.
Does a DBA protect the name of your business?
DBAs must be unique within the state of Utah, which means that once you have registered a DBA, no other business in the state can use it for their own. However, this does not work between states, so your name could be present elsewhere. Only trademarks offer legal protections that prevent names from being used anywhere else.
How often do you have to renew a DBA in Utah?
Assumed names do not need to be renewed in Utah. However, if you wish to change the name, you will need to fill out a new registration form with amendments and pay a new filing fee to have the information updated.
Are owners required to file a DBA for an LLC in Utah?
You need to file for a DBA in Utah if you wish to do business under a different name, and that applies to a limited liability company, a general partnership, a sole proprietor, or any type of business entity.
What are the limitations of an assumed name in Utah?
A DBA has limitations since it is neither a business structure nor a legal entity. What does that mean for your company? The biggest issue is that an assumed name doesn’t have liability protection, meaning it does not protect your personal assets in the event of a lawsuit against your business.
Does a DBA need to be registered with the IRS?
Not all DBAs are required to be registered with the IRS. However, if you plan to hire employees, open a business bank account, or apply for a loan from a bank or lender, you’ll need an EIN. Think of an EIN as a social security number for your business.
Find out how to set up your DBA
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