Doing Business As (DBA) Requirements for Virginia Business Owners

Doing Business in Virginia - Fictitious And Assumed Name Information

Business Names and DBA
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Doing Business As General Information

If business is conducted in Virginia under a name other than the legal business name, an assumed or fictitious name certificate must be filed in the in each county or city where business is to be conducted.

When a business operates under a name other than the one it is legally registered as, it is referred to as "Doing Business As" or, simply referred to bu the commonly abbreviated acronym 'DBA."

A DBA statement may also be referred to as a fictitious business name, trade name, or assumed name.

If you miss this important step, you may open yourself and your business to liability issues.

Doing Business As (DBA) a Fictitious Business Name

Why Would Someone Want to Use A Name Other Than Their Business Name?

Corporations use DBAs to show that either a previous name, or some other name was used to create the business for legal purposes, but may use another name for its public face.  Filing a DBA is faster and cheaper than starting a brand new business filing simply because you want to change the name of your business.

In some cases, a single parent company (or business) may have more than one DBA which can be a good thing for business owners expanding into new markets.  A web design company may want to start a new service offering video post production without changing their legal business name from "ABC Web Design" to "ABD Video and Web Design."  A DBA will allow them to use the name to reflect the new business name.

If you run a sole proprietorship, the name of your business must have a real name in the legal title, but you can still operate under another name.  For example, Sally Jones is a sole proprietor of a floral shop but does not want her name on her sign or website and wants to make the public name of her business "First Street Floral."  In order to be able to use that name, as a sole proprietor, she could have to file a DBA statement.

DBAs help protect consumers from business owners who may wish to hide the identity for shifty reasons.

DBA For Corporations, LLCs, LPs

If your business entity is a limited partnership, a limited liability company, or a corporation, you must:

Resources And Additional Information About DBAs in Virginia

Complete information about business registration requirements in Virginia can be found in the Virginia Business Registration Guide (PDF).

You should also contact your local chamber of commerce and city office to ensure that there are no additional local requirements (such as running an add in a newspaper or publication prior to using another name,)

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