How to Get a DBA Name in Pennsylvania | A Step-By-Step Guide

Steve Bennett
Business Formation Expert  |   Fact Checked by Editorial Team
Last updated: 
WebinarCare offers informative content for educational purposes only, not as a substitute for professional legal or tax advice. We may earn commissions if you use the services we recommend on this site.
WebinarCare is led by Steve Bennett, a seasoned expert in the business world. He's gathered a team that's passionate about giving you reliable advice on everything from starting a business to picking the right tools. We base our tips and guides on real-life experience, ensuring you get straightforward and proven advice. Our goal is to make your business journey smoother and more successful. When you choose WebinarCare, you're choosing a trustworthy guide for all things business.
Get a DBA Name in Pennsylvania

Have you ever wondered how to get a DBA for your Limited Liability Company? If you have, then you are on the right page. Doing Business As (DBA) names, also known as trade names, fictitious names, or assumed names, are an essential aspect of businesses in Pennsylvania. A DBA name allows companies to operate under a name different from their legal business name since it is important for branding, marketing, and legal purposes. In this article, we will provide a comprehensive guide to getting a DBA name in Pennsylvania.

Through thorough research and market study, Webinarcare Editorial Team will help you learn about the DBA name. It would be best to cross-check all the factors before obtaining one for your Pennsylvania business.

What is a DBA Name?

A DBA (Doing Business As) name in Pennsylvania is a name under which a business operates that is different from its legal name. It is also known as a trading, fictitious, or assumed name. A DBA name allows companies to start a limited liability company in Pennsylvania, and market themselves under a separate name from their legal business name. Registering a DBA name in Pennsylvania, provides businesses with branding, marketing, and legal benefits while also helping to prevent other businesses from using the same or a similar name within the state.

Example of a DBA

A DBA (Doing Business As) example can be illustrated through a fictional scenario involving a sole proprietor named John Smith. Let’s say John owns a bakery business and wants to operate it under a different name rather than using his name.

Legal Business Name: John Smith (sole proprietor)

DBA Name: Sweet Treats Bakery

In this case, John would register “Sweet Treats Bakery” as his DBA name. By doing so, he can legally conduct his bakery business using the name “Sweet Treats Bakery” for branding, marketing, and legal purposes, instead of using his name, John Smith. This allows John to establish a professional identity for his bakery and distinguish it from other businesses.

If you start an LLC in Pennsylvania, registering a DBA name is important when it comes to remembering your business. However, it is best to consult with a legal professional before you begin registering your DBA name. This is to ensure that your business name is available in Pennsylvania.

WEBINARCARE EDITORIAL TEAM

How to Get a DBA Name in Pennsylvania

Starting a business in Pennsylvania can be exciting and challenging. One crucial step in establishing your business’s identity is choosing and registering a Doing Business As (DBA) name. Here are the steps to get a DBA in Pennsylvania.

Step 1: Choose a Unique and Appropriate Name

The first step in registering a DBA name is selecting a unique and appropriate name for your business. Your chosen name should be easy to remember and represent your business’s products or services. 

Consider the following tips when choosing a DBA name in Pennsylvania:

  • Avoid using names too similar to existing businesses, as this may lead to confusion and potential legal issues.
  • Stay away from names that may be considered offensive or misleading.
  • Research Pennsylvania naming requirements, as some have specific restrictions on what words and phrases can be included in a business name. 

Recommended: Embark on your entrepreneurial journey confidently and affordably with LegalZoom’s DBA service, the beacon that guides businesses to credible branding and comprehensive compliance. Discover how effortless success can truly be!

LegalZoom – ($99 + Filling Fees)

Step 2: Conduct a Name Search

Once you have chosen a suitable name for your business, conducting Pennsylvania Business Name Search is essential to ensure the name is not already used. In Pennsylvania, they have an online business name database that you can search, usually found on the Pennsylvania Department of State Business Entity Search. Sometimes, you may also need to check with your local county clerk’s office to ensure the name is not already used at the county level.

If your chosen name is already in use, select a different name and repeat the search until you find an available name.

Step 3: Register the DBA Name

After confirming that your chosen name is available, the next step is registering your DBA name with the appropriate state or county agency. In Pennsylvania, you will need to complete a DBA registration form, which can often be found on Pennsylvania Secretary of State website. Pennsylvania may require additional documentation, such as proof of business ownership or a business license in Pennsylvania.

When filling out the registration form, provide accurate and complete information. Any errors or omissions may lead to delays in processing or even the rejection of your application.

Step 4: Pay the Registration Fee

A fee is typically associated with registering a DBA name. In Pennsylvania, there are two methods, by mail and in person. The cost of filing a DBA is $70. Sometimes, there may be separate fees for Pennsylvania DBA registrations. Be prepared to pay these fees when submitting your registration form.

Step 5: Publish a Notice of Your New DBA Name

Pennsylvania requires you to publish a notice of your new DBA name in a local newspaper. This step will inform the public of your intention to operate under a fictitious name. 

The notice must typically include your DBA name, legal business name, business address, and owner’s name. You may need to provide proof of publication to Pennsylvania or the county agency responsible for DBA registrations.

Step 6: Obtain Any Necessary Permits or Licenses

Depending on your Pennsylvania business’s nature and location, you may need additional permits or licenses to operate under your DBA name.

The permits and licenses required for your business will depend on your business’s nature, location, and local and state regulations. Here are some common types of permits and licenses that might be required when operating under a DBA:

  • Business License: A general business license may be required in Pennsylvania to operate your business legally. This license ensures your business meets local zoning, safety, and regulatory requirements. In Pennsylvania, the costs of obtaining a business license range from $50 – $300.
  • Sales Tax Permit: If your business sells taxable goods or services, you may need a Sales Tax Permit from Pennsylvania Department of Revenue.
  • Professional Licenses: Depending on your business type, you may need specific professional licenses or certifications. For example, if you are operating a restaurant, you may need a food handler’s permit; if you offer professional services such as accounting or legal services, you may need a professional license from Pennsylvania state board. DBA filing requires professional licenses if you operate under a General Partnership in Pennsylvania
  • Health and Safety Permits: Businesses in certain industries, such as food service, may require health and safety permits to ensure compliance with state and local regulations.
  • Zoning Permits: Depending on your business location and the type of business you are operating, you may need a zoning permit from your local planning or zoning department.
  • Environmental Permits: If your business involves activities that could impact the environment, you may need permits from Pennsylvania state or federal environmental agencies.

Step 7: Renew Your DBA Registration as Needed

In Pennsylvania, you are required to renew your DBA registration periodically. This renewal process may involve completing a renewal form, paying a renewal fee, and sometimes republishing the notice of your DBA name. Stay up-to-date with your state’s renewal requirements to maintain your DBA name and avoid penalties.

Maintaining the DBA Name

Once your DBA name is registered and published, it is essential to maintain it to remain in good standing with Pennsylvania. Here are some important aspects to consider:

  • Renewal or Expiration: Depending on Pennsylvania’s regulations, your DBA name registration may expire or need to be renewed periodically. Keep track of these deadlines to avoid losing your DBA name.
  • Updating Business Information: If your business undergoes significant changes (such as a change in ownership or address), you may need to update your DBA name registration with the appropriate agency.
  • Canceling or Discontinuing the DBA Name: If you decide to stop using your DBA name or close your business, notify the appropriate agency and follow any required procedures for canceling or discontinuing the name.

Is a DBA in Pennsylvania the same as a Trade Name?

Yes, in Pennsylvania, a DBA (Doing Business As) is the same as a trading name. Both terms refer to a name under which a business operates differently from its legal name. A DBA or trade name allows companies to conduct business and market themselves using a different name from their legal business name. Other terms for DBA or trade name include fictitious name and assumed name. Registering a DBA or trade name in Pennsylvania may vary depending on the type of business and the state’s specific regulations.

Do I need to register my Pennsylvania DBA in the Internal Revenue Service?

No, you do not need to register your DBA (Doing Business As) name in Pennsylvania with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The registration of a DBA is typically done at the state or local level, depending on the specific regulations of Pennsylvania. The IRS is not involved in the DBA registration process.

However, once your DBA is registered in Pennsylvania, you may need to obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) in Pennsylvania from the IRS if your business has employees, operates as a corporation or partnership, or meets certain tax-filing requirements.

Do I need to file for a DBA if I already have Pennsylvania Registered Business Name?

If you already have a registered business name in Pennsylvania and you plan to conduct business using that exact name, you do not need to file for a DBA (Doing Business As). A DBA is required when a business wants to operate under a name different from its legal business name. 

However, you must file for a DBA if you have a registered business name and wish to conduct business under a different name. This applies to sole proprietorships, partnerships, limited liability companies (LLCs), and corporations that intend to use a name other than their legally registered name.

FAQs

What is a DBA name in Pennsylvania?
A DBA name in Pennsylvania is a “Fictitious Name”, which is a business name that is different than the owner’s legal name.
Do I need to register my DBA name in Pennsylvania?
Yes, you need to register your DBA name in Pennsylvania with the Department of State’s Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations.
Can I use my middle name as a DBA name in Pennsylvania?
Yes, you can use your middle name as a DBA name in Pennsylvania.
Can I have multiple DBA names in Pennsylvania?
Yes, one can have multiple DBA names in Pennsylvania.
How much does it cost to file a DBA in Pennsylvania?
The cost of filing a DBA in Pennsylvania can vary depending on the county in which you operate. It ranges from $50 to $100.
Can I register my DBA name online in Pennsylvania?
Yes, you can use the Pennsylvania’s online Business One-Stop Shop to register your DBA name online in Pennsylvania.
How long does it take to get a DBA name in Pennsylvania?
It typically takes 7-10 business days to get your DBA name registered in Pennsylvania.
Can a corporation have a DBA name in Pennsylvania?
Yes, a corporation can have a DBA name in Pennsylvania.
Can an LLC have a DBA name in Pennsylvania?
Yes, an LLC can have a DBA name in Pennsylvania.
What happens if someone else is already using my preferred DBA name in Pennsylvania?
If someone else is already using your preferred DBA name in Pennsylvania, you will have to choose a different name for your business.
Do I have to renew my DBA name registration in Pennsylvania?
Yes, you have to renew your DBA name registration in Pennsylvania every 5 years.
How do I change my DBA name in Pennsylvania?
You need to file a new application for registration of Fictitious Name in Pennsylvania.
Can I use a trademarked name for my DBA in Pennsylvania?
No, you cannot use a trademarked name for your DBA in Pennsylvania.
Can I use a business name that’s already registered with the state as my DBA name in Pennsylvania?
No, you cannot use a business name that’s already registered with the state as your DBA name in Pennsylvania.
Do I need a separate EIN when registering a DBA name in Pennsylvania?
No, you do not need a separate EIN when registering a DBA name in Pennsylvania.
Can my DBA name be different from my business’s legal name in Pennsylvania?
Yes, your DBA name can be different from your business’s legal name in Pennsylvania.
How long does my DBA name registration in Pennsylvania last?
Your DBA name registration in Pennsylvania lasts for 5 years.
Who can apply for a DBA name registration in Pennsylvania?
Anyone operating a business under a fictitious name in Pennsylvania can apply for a DBA name registration.
Do all states have a registration process for DBA names like Pennsylvania?
All states have their own specific process for registering or filing DBA names.
Can I trademark my DBA name in Pennsylvania?
Yes, you can trademark your DBA name in Pennsylvania.
What is the Pennsylvania Bureau of Corporation and Charitable Organizations (BCCO)?
The Pennsylvania Bureau of Corporation and Charitable Organizations (BCCO) is an office that deals with the registration and incorporation of businesses in the state of Pennsylvania.
Can I change the address of my DBA name in Pennsylvania?
Yes, you can change the address of your DBA name in Pennsylvania by filing an online or paper form.
How do I dissolve my DBA name registration in Pennsylvania?
You need to file a Cancellation of Fictitious Name or the Dissolution of the DBA name.
Can I search for a DBA name before registering it in Pennsylvania?
Yes, the Pennsylvania Department of State website allows to check the availability of the preferred name by conducting database research.
What happens if I don’t register my DBA name in Pennsylvania?
Operating in Pennsylvania without registering a DBA name may attract an administrative penalty, enforcement action, civil penalties from the State.
Can a DBA name be used as a legal entity in Pennsylvania?
No, a DBA name is not considered as a legal entity in Pennsylvania.
Do I need to apply for a business license along with a DBA name registration in Pennsylvania?
No, you do not need to apply for a business license along with a DBA name registration in Pennsylvania.
Can a DBA name in Pennsylvania be the same as another business name in another state?
Yes, it’s possible for a DBA name in Pennsylvania to have the same as another business name in another state if registration exists through the respective states they’re operated from.
What is a DBA name?
DBA stands for “Doing Business As,” and it refers to a name that a business uses instead of its legal name.
Do I need to do anything special to obtain a DBA name in Pennsylvania?
Yes, you must register your trade name with the Pennsylvania Department of State.
Is there a fee to register a trade name in Pennsylvania?
Yes, the fee is $70 for a new application or a renewal.
Can I use my own name as a trade name?
Yes, as long as it is not being used by another registered business.
Is registering a trade name the same as incorporating a business in Pennsylvania?
No, registering a trade name is a separate process from incorporation.
Who can apply for a trade name registration in Pennsylvania?
Anyone who is conducting business in Pennsylvania can apply for a trade name registration.
How long does it take to register a trade name in Pennsylvania?
Processing times vary, but it can usually take up to 15 business days.
Can I register a trade name online in Pennsylvania?
Yes, you can register a trade name online using the Pennsylvania Department of State’s website.
Once I register a trade name in Pennsylvania, how long is it valid for?
A trade name registration in Pennsylvania is valid for five years.
Can I renew my trade name registration in Pennsylvania?
Yes, you can renew your trade name registration every five years.
What happens if I don’t renew my trade name registration in Pennsylvania?
Your trade name registration will expire, and someone else could register the same name.
What happens if someone else registers a trade name that is similar to my own in Pennsylvania?
You may be able to contest the registration if it is causing confusion among consumers.
Where can I find more information about registering a trade name in Pennsylvania?
You can find more information on the Pennsylvania Department of State’s website.
Can I change my trade name in Pennsylvania?
Yes, you can change your trade name by filing a new application and paying the required fee.
Can I sell my trade name in Pennsylvania?
In some cases, you may be able to sell your trade name, but you should seek legal advice before doing so.
Can I use a trade name that is already registered in another state in Pennsylvania?
No, you must register your trade name separately in each state where you plan to conduct business.
What should I do if I want to use a trade name that is already registered in another state but not in Pennsylvania?
You should seek legal advice before using a trade name that is already in use, as it could lead to legal issues.
Can I use a trade name if I am operating as a sole proprietor in Pennsylvania?
Yes, as long as you register your trade name with the Pennsylvania Department of State.
Can I use a trade name if I am operating as an LLC in Pennsylvania?
Yes, as long as you register your trade name with the Pennsylvania Department of State and follow all other regulations for LLCs.
Are there any restrictions on trade names in Pennsylvania?
Yes, your trade name cannot be deceptive, misleading, or promote illegal activities.
How do I know if my intended trade name is available in Pennsylvania?
You can perform a search of registered names on the Pennsylvania Department of State’s website.
Can I reserve a trade name in Pennsylvania if I am not ready to register it yet?
Yes, you can reserve a trade name for 120 days by filing a name reservation request.
What is the difference between a trade name and a trademark in Pennsylvania?
A trade name is a name used for business purposes, while a trademark is used to identify a specific product or service.
Can I use a trademarked name as a trade name in Pennsylvania?
In some cases, you may be able to use a trademarked name as a trade name, but you should seek legal advice first.
When should I apply for a trade name registration in Pennsylvania?
You should apply for a trade name registration before you begin using the name in commerce.
Is it necessary to have a lawyer handle my trade name registration in Pennsylvania?
No, while it is recommended to consult a lawyer regarding legal matters, you can complete the registration process yourself.
Is there a penalty for operating under an unregistered trade name in Pennsylvania?
Yes, you can face fines and legal action if you operate under an unregistered trade name.
Are there any local regulations in Pennsylvania in addition to state regulations regarding trade names?
Some cities or counties in Pennsylvania may have their own regulations regarding trade names and business practices, so it’s important to check with local authorities.
What happens if I change my business structure, such as from a sole proprietorship to an LLC, in Pennsylvania?
In general, if you change your business structure in Pennsylvania, you would need to register a new trade name that reflects the change.

Also Read

Conclusion

Getting a DBA name in Pennsylvania is crucial for many businesses, providing branding, marketing, and legal benefits. By following the steps outlined in this comprehensive guide, you can successfully register a DBA name in Pennsylvania and enhance your business’s credibility and recognition in the market. Remember to stay up-to-date with Pennsylvania’s rules and regulations surrounding DBA names, and maintain your registration to ensure your business remains compliant.

Leave a Comment