How to Register a DBA in Oklahoma (Step-by-Step Guide)
Starting a new business in Oklahoma can be a scary task. There are many legal terms to get to know and decisions to make that may impact the success of your business. One of the biggest decisions is naming your business. We will focus on what a DBA means, if and when you might need one, and finally, a step-by-step guide to applying for your Oklahoma DBA.
What is a DBA?
The DBA acronym, meaning “doing business as,” refers to a company or individual conducting business operations under a fictitious name. They are also called “fictitious business names” and “assumed names.” A DBA allows a business to use a different name while still being legally accountable for the business under its legal name.
For instance, if John Smith operates a sole proprietorship that sells handmade candles, he can register a DBA name, such as “The Candle Co. by John,” to promote his products and services instead of using his own name.
Sole proprietors, general partnerships, and corporations often choose to register for a DBA if they want to use a different name that better represents their products or services or if they want to use a more creative and catchy name.
The process for registering a DBA varies by state. Generally, the process involves
- Selecting a unique business name
- Verifying its availability
- Filing the appropriate forms with the relevant government agency, such as the Secretary of State or county clerk’s office.
- Paying a filing fee associated with the registration process.
Oklahoma DBA name registration
Oklahoma DBAs are commonly referred to as trade names.
Choose your name
The first step is to name your business. Your name must meet certain state-wide requirements before it can be accepted. Some of the rules are:
- Names must be unique and not in use.
- Names should not contain any business entity suffix unless it is that type of business (LLC, Inc., etc.).
- Financial terms such as “savings and loans” or “bank” without prior approval.
- Words that may cause confusion between your company and government agencies such as the FBI.
Check name availability
Visit the Oklahoma business name search website and check that your proposed name isn’t in use.
Register your name
In Oklahoma, you can register your DBA online or by completing the trade name form and handing it in.
When filling in the forms, you will be asked for the following:
- New DBA name
- Address where business is carried out
- A description of the business
- Legal name
- Business entity
- State where the business was formed.
If you are applying by mail, you need to forward your forms to the following:
Oklahoma Secretary of State
421 N.W. 13th St., Suite 210
Oklahoma City, OK 73103
Pay your filing fees
The filing fees are $25.
Renew, amend, or withdraw your DBA
- DBAs do not expire in Oklahoma, so renewing is unnecessary.
- You must file the amend trade name form to amend your DBA. The fee is $25, which can also be completed online.
- If you wish to change your trade name, you must file a new form. The amend trade form is for making other changes.
- If you want to withdraw your DBA name, you can file a withdrawal of trade name form. This costs $25. It can be completed online or mailed in.
Obtain an EIN
The IRS provides an EIN (Employer Identification Number) for tax-related reasons.
It’s crucial to note that having a DBA name does not create a legal entity.
If you’re a sole proprietor with no staff, you can use your Social Security Number as your tax id and do not need to request an EIN.
However, if you plan to employ workers or establish a business bank account utilizing your new DBA name, you may need to apply for a new EIN.
Obtaining an EIN is feasible through an online or mail application.
Open a business bank account
Once you have your EIN, you can establish a business bank account using your new name. Doing so simplifies the process of accepting check and credit card payments, and it also aids in the separation of personal and business finances.
Advantages and disadvantages of a DBA
There are many advantages to registering a DBA:
- Brand flexibility: A DBA name can be more versatile than a legal business name. It can be changed if needed, allowing businesses to adapt to product or market changes. A business owner can use multiple DBA names to market different products or services, which can help expand their reach and target new customers.
- Improved financial management: By opening a business bank account under a DBA name, business owners can use their company name on bank transactions, making it easier to keep one’s personal and business finances separate.
- Better marketing opportunities: A well-chosen name can be more memorable and descriptive than a legal name, making it easier for customers to recognize and remember the brand.
- Cost-effective option: Compared to other business structures, such as incorporating or forming an LLC, registering a DBA is often less expensive and more manageable, making it a cost-effective option for small businesses and entrepreneurs.
There are a few drawbacks to registering a DBA name:
- Limited legal protection: Unlike other business structures like Limited Liability companies or corporations, DBAs do not provide personal liability protection. The business owner is then personally responsible for all debts, obligations, and legal issues associated with the business. The business owner’s assets could be at risk if the company is sued.
- Legal and administrative burden: Using a DBA name requires registering the name with the relevant government agency, which can be time-consuming. The legal and administrative burden increases with multiple DBAs, requiring the owner to maintain and update legal documents periodically.
Who needs a DBA?
- Sole proprietorships: Individuals who own and operate their business without creating a separate legal entity.
- Partnerships: Joint ventures between two or more individuals who want to operate under a different name than their personal names.
- Corporations and LLCs: Business entities that want to use a name different from their legal name or diversify business under multiple names.
Why or why wouldn’t you need a DBA?
You would need a DBA if:
- You intend to operate your business under a name other than yours or your company’s.
- You want a trading name that is easier to market, remember, or describe your products or services.
- You are a sole proprietor, partnership, corporation, or LLC and want to conduct business under multiple names.
- You want to test a new product or market without changing your legal name.
You may not need a DBA if:
- You are operating your business under your personal or your company’s legal name.
- You are a single-owner LLC that does not need to perform business using a name other than your name or the name of your LLC.
How long does it take to process my DBA?
It takes 1-2 business days to process a DBA filed online. If you submit by mail, the processing time is 7-10 business days. Oklahoma does not currently offer any expedited services.
Do I need to advertise my DBA in a local newspaper?
Many states require you to advertise your new DBA in a local publication. Oklahoma does not require this, but some benefits come with informing a local community of your new business.
Do I need to apply for extra licenses?
This depends on the type of business you run. A DBA does not equate to a business license, so if you need one, you will need to apply for this separately.
What happens if I do not choose a unique name?
If your name is not unique, it will be rejected by the Secretary of State when it comes to filing your DBA. This will make the whole process last longer than it should.
What happens if I do not file a DBA?
If you operate under a different name and have not filed a DBA, you may be subject to punishment from the state.
Find out how to register a DBA in your state
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