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

Steve Bennett
Business Formation Expert  |   Fact Checked by Editorial Team
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Get a DBA Name in Wisconsin

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 Wisconsin. 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 Wisconsin.

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 Wisconsin business.

What is a DBA Name?

A DBA (Doing Business As) name in Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin, and market themselves under a separate name from their legal business name. Registering a DBA name in Wisconsin, 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 Wisconsin, 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 Wisconsin.

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How to Get a DBA Name in Wisconsin

Starting a business in Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin.

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 Wisconsin:

  • 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 Wisconsin naming requirements, as some have specific restrictions on what words and phrases can be included in a business name. 

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Step 2: Conduct a Name Search

Once you have chosen a suitable name for your business, conducting Wisconsin Business Name Search is essential to ensure the name is not already used. In Wisconsin, they have an online business name database that you can search, usually found on the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions. 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 Wisconsin, you will need to complete a DBA registration form, which can often be found on Wisconsin Secretary of State website. Wisconsin may require additional documentation, such as proof of business ownership or a business license in Wisconsin.

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 Wisconsin, there are two methods, by mail and in person. The cost of filing a DBA is $15. However, renewing your DBA every ten years would be best. Sometimes, there may be separate fees for Wisconsin DBA registrations. Be prepared to pay these fees when submitting your registration form.

Step 5: Publish a Notice of Your New DBA Name

Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin or the county agency responsible for DBA registrations.

Step 6: Obtain Any Necessary Permits or Licenses

Depending on your Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin to operate your business legally. This license ensures your business meets local zoning, safety, and regulatory requirements. In Wisconsin, 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 Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin state board. DBA filing requires professional licenses if you operate under a General Partnership in Wisconsin
  • 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 Wisconsin state or federal environmental agencies.

Step 7: Renew Your DBA Registration as Needed

In Wisconsin, 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 Wisconsin. Here are some important aspects to consider:

  • Renewal or Expiration: Depending on Wisconsin’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 Wisconsin the same as a Trade Name?

Yes, in Wisconsin, 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 Wisconsin may vary depending on the type of business and the state’s specific regulations.

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

No, you do not need to register your DBA (Doing Business As) name in Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin. The IRS is not involved in the DBA registration process.

However, once your DBA is registered in Wisconsin, you may need to obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) in Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin Registered Business Name?

If you already have a registered business name in Wisconsin 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 registration and why do I need it in Wisconsin?
A DBA name registration in Wisconsin allows a sole proprietorship or partnership to operate under a name different from the legal name of the owner(s) or partners. It is required by Wisconsin law for anyone conducting business under a name that is not their legal name.
Can I search for available DBA names in Wisconsin before filing a registration form?
Yes, you can search the state’s online database of registered business names to ensure the name you want is available.
How do I register a DBA name in Wisconsin?
To obtain a DBA name in Wisconsin, fill out a registration form and submit it to the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions along with the filing fee.
Can I register a DBA name online in Wisconsin?
Yes, you can submit your DBA registration form online through the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions’ website.
How much does it cost to file a DBA name registration in Wisconsin?
As of 2021, the filing fee for a DBA name registration in Wisconsin is $21.
How long does it take to process a DBA name registration in Wisconsin?
The Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions generally processes DBA name registrations within 5 business days of receiving the application.
Do I need to file a DBA renewal in Wisconsin?
No, a DBA registration in Wisconsin is good for 5 years and will automatically expire at the end of that period.
Can I change my DBA name registration in Wisconsin?
Yes, you can change your registered DBA name in Wisconsin by filing an amendment with the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions and paying the amendment fee.
Can I use a post office box for my DBA name registration in Wisconsin?
No, the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions requires that all registrants use a physical street address for their DBA registration.
Can I use a DBA name in Wisconsin that is already trademarked?
No, using a DBA name in Wisconsin that is already trademarked can result in legal consequences.
Can more than one person use the same DBA name in Wisconsin?
Yes, two or more individuals or entities can use the same DBA name in Wisconsin as long as they conduct two separate businesses.
Will my DBA name registration in Wisconsin expire if I change my address or email?
No, the registration is based on the business name, not personal information, so changing your address or email should not affect it.
Do I need a separate DBA registration for each county I do business in Wisconsin?
No, a single DBA registration in Wisconsin covers all counties in the state.
Can I use my DBA name to open a business bank account in Wisconsin?
Yes, once you obtain a DBA name registration in Wisconsin, you can use it to open a business bank account.
Can I sell my DBA name in Wisconsin?
Yes, you can sell your DBA registration in Wisconsin to another party.
What information do I need to provide when registering a DBA name in Wisconsin?
You will need to provide your legal name and address, the name of your new business, and a brief description of the products or services you offer.
Is a DBA name registration public record in Wisconsin?
Yes, all registered business names in Wisconsin are public record and can be searched by the public.
Can I conduct business in Wisconsin without a DBA name registration?
No, Wisconsin law requires anyone conducting business under a name that is not their legal name to obtain a DBA name registration.
Can I operate multiple businesses under one DBA name in Wisconsin?
Yes, you can operate multiple businesses under one registered DBA name in Wisconsin as long as they are related to each other.
Does a DBA name registration in Wisconsin give me any legal protection?
No, a DBA name registration in Wisconsin does not provide any legal protection or copyright to the name.
Can a DBA name registration in Wisconsin be denied?
Yes, a DBA registration can be denied if the name is already taken or deemed inappropriate by the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions.
Do I need a business license to obtain a DBA name registration in Wisconsin?
No, a DBA name registration in Wisconsin does not require a separate business license, but you may need other permits or licenses depending on your business type.
Can I register a DBA name in Wisconsin if my business is incorporated or an LLC?
Yes, you can register a DBA name in Wisconsin even if your business is incorporated or an LLC.
How do I know if my DBA name is available in Wisconsin?
You can search the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions’ online database to see if your desired DBA name is available.
Must I register a DBA name registration in Wisconsin with the IRS?
No, a DBA name registration in Wisconsin does not need to be filed with the IRS, but you will need to file taxes for any income earned under that name.
Can I get a DBA name for my nonprofit organization in Wisconsin?
Yes, even nonprofit organizations can use a different name when conducting business by registering a DBA name in Wisconsin.
Do I need a DBA name registration in Wisconsin for an online business?
Yes, you need to obtain a DBA name registration in Wisconsin even if your business is only conducted online.
How can I renew my DBA name registration in Wisconsin when it expires?
Your DBA registration will automatically expire after 5 years, and the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions will send out a renewal notice with instructions on how to renew.
What is a DBA name in Wisconsin?
A DBA, or “Doing Business As” name, is the name under which a business operates if it’s different from the owner’s legal name.
Why do I need a DBA name in Wisconsin?
You’ll need a DBA name in Wisconsin if you plan on operating your business under a name that’s different from your legal name.
What do I have to do to register a DBA name in Wisconsin?
To register a DBA name in Wisconsin, you’ll need to fill out and file a Certificate of Assumed Name form with the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions.
How much does it cost to file a DBA name in Wisconsin?
The filing fee for a DBA name in Wisconsin is $15.
How long does it take to register a DBA name in Wisconsin?
It typically takes 7-10 days for the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions to process and approve a DBA name registration.
How long does a DBA name registration last in Wisconsin?
A DBA name registration in Wisconsin is valid for 10 years.
Can more than one business use the same DBA name in Wisconsin?
No, a DBA name in Wisconsin must be unique to the individual business registering it.
Do I need to obtain a tax ID number to register a DBA name in Wisconsin?
No, you do not need a tax ID number to register a DBA name in Wisconsin.
Can I change my DBA name in Wisconsin?
Yes, you can change your DBA name in Wisconsin by filing a new Certificate of Assumed Name form with the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions.
Can I use my DBA name in other states besides Wisconsin?
No, a DBA name in Wisconsin is only valid in Wisconsin.
Can I use a registered trademark as my DBA name in Wisconsin?
No, you cannot use a registered trademark as your DBA name in Wisconsin.
Do I need a business license to register a DBA name in Wisconsin?
No, you do not need a business license to register a DBA name in Wisconsin.
When should I renew my DBA name registration in Wisconsin?
You should renew your DBA name registration in Wisconsin within 10 years of the original registration.
Can I register a DBA name for a non-profit organization in Wisconsin?
Yes, you can register a DBA name for a non-profit organization in Wisconsin.
Can I register a DBA name for a sole proprietorship in Wisconsin?
Yes, you can register a DBA name for a sole proprietorship in Wisconsin.
Can I register a DBA name for a corporation in Wisconsin?
Yes, you can register a DBA name for a corporation in Wisconsin.
Can I register a DBA name for a partnership in Wisconsin?
Yes, you can register a DBA name for a partnership in Wisconsin.
Can I register a DBA name for an LLC in Wisconsin?
Yes, you can register a DBA name for an LLC in Wisconsin.
What happens if I don’t register my DBA name in Wisconsin?
You will be subject to penalties if you operate your business under a DBA name that is not properly registered in Wisconsin.
Can I use abbreviations in my DBA name in Wisconsin?
Yes, you can use abbreviations in your DBA name in Wisconsin.
Do I need to publish my DBA name in a newspaper in Wisconsin?
No, you do not need to publish your DBA name in a newspaper in Wisconsin.
Can I use my DBA name on my business cards in Wisconsin?
Yes, you can use your DBA name on your business cards in Wisconsin.
Can I use my DBA name on my business’s website in Wisconsin?
Yes, you can use your DBA name on your business’s website in Wisconsin.
What is the difference between a DBA name and a trademark in Wisconsin?
A DBA name is the name under which a business operates, while a trademark is a brand name or logo registrable with the USPTO.
Can I reserve a DBA name in Wisconsin?
Yes, you can reserve a DBA name in Wisconsin for up to 120 days by filing a Reservation of Name form with the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions.
Can I change my legal name to my DBA name in Wisconsin?
No, you cannot change your legal name to your DBA name in Wisconsin.
Will my DBA name protect me from liability in Wisconsin?
No, a DBA name does not provide any legal protection or liability coverage in Wisconsin.
If I move my business outside of Wisconsin, can I still use my DBA name in another state?
You may have to re-register your DBA name with the appropriate agency in the new state where you plan to operate your business.

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Conclusion

Getting a DBA name in Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin and enhance your business’s credibility and recognition in the market. Remember to stay up-to-date with Wisconsin’s rules and regulations surrounding DBA names, and maintain your registration to ensure your business remains compliant.

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