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Texas Assumed Name Certificates

also known as a “DBA” (short for Doing Business As)

Every person or business entity that conducts business or provides services under an assumed name must file an assumed name certificate (often referred to as a DBA). DBAs serve two main purposes: (1) inform the public who is doing business under the assumed name and (2) claim of ownership to the assumed name (i.e. assertion of intellectual property rights).

What is an assumed name (aka DBA)?

An assumed name or DBA is a name under which an individual or business entity chooses to do business that is different from the individual’s or business entity's name. For example, if Molly Smith operated a sole proprietorship called Molly's Maids (or Smith's Holdings, LLC does business as Molly's Maids), the assumed name/DBA would be "Molly's Maids".

An assumed name certificate is the document that must be filed when an assumed name is being used. Filing an assumed name certificate is what establishes the link between the assumed name and the person (sole proprietorship) or business entity (LLC or Inc) that uses the DBA/assumed name.

What a DBA is NOT

Filing and doing business under a DBA/assumed name is not the same as incorporating or forming a business like an LLC. Filing an assumed name certificate/DBA simply establishes a link between the DBA/assumed name and the person (sole proprietorship) or business entity (LLC or Inc) that uses the DBA/assumed name.

How much does it cost to file a DBA?

The Texas Secretary of State charges a filing fee of $25. The County Clerk will charge around $20 to record a DBA (give or take $5 depending on the county). We charge a flat fee of $125 to prepare and file DBAs.

DBAs are filed at either the county or state level, not both.

Where is a DBA filed?

What is the difference between state and county DBAs?

Other than the required content of the Assumed Name Certificate (aka the DBA) and where it is filed, there aren't many legal differences.

A DBA is filed with the state if the DBA is used by an incorporated business (i.e. LLC or Corporation). A DBA is filed with the county if used by a sole proprietorship or other unincorporated business.

How long does it take to file a DBA?

It depends on where the DBA needs to be filed. Remember, DBAs are filed at either the county or state level, not both.

We’ll prepare your DBA on the same day we receive your information (or next business day if ordered after 2pm or on a weekend/holiday).

1. State DBAs (for Corporations and LLCs) are e-signed on our end and e-filed with the state and thus often completed/file-stamped same day.

2. County DBAs (for unincorporated businesses) are prepared same or next business day and then emailed to you for signing. Some counties allow us to e-record the signed DBA and thus we require only a copy of the signed/notarized DBA from you.  In these counties, the filing is quick (i.e. 1 business day). If the county does not allow e-recording, we will need the original/wet signed DBA back from you and the filing time will depend on the mail service used. Counties that currently allow e-recording are: Brazoria, Dallas, Eastland, Fort Bend, Hays, Liberty, Medina, Parker, Potter, Randall, Smith, Starr, Victoria, and Webb.

Does my LLC need a DBA?

Your LLC will need an DBA if it uses a name (on signs, logos, websites, etc) that does not equal the LLC name.  Here are examples of LLCs that would need to file a DBA:

  • Longhorn Holdings, LLC doing business as Longhorn Realty
  • Superior Construction Services LLC doing business as Superior Construction
  • Sam's Club of Texas LLC doing business as Sam's Club
  • Accelerated Software Company LLC doing business as ASC
  • Global Enterprises LLC doing business as Global Enterprises LLC - Series 1
  • Rusty's Real Estate Company LLC doing business as Rusty's Real Estate Co.

How long does a Texas DBA last?

The maximum length of time a Texas assumed name certificate will be effective for is 10 years from the date of filing. You can renew the certificate/DBA for additional 10 year periods by filing a new assumed name certificate no more than 6 months prior to the expiration date. The DBA may be abandoned at any time before the expiration date by filing a Certificate of Abandonment or similar document.

Can a DBA be used to change the name of my LLC?

If you decide to change the name of your business, you can technically keep the name of your LLC and file an assumed name certificate (DBA).

For example, Sarah Smith Enterprises LLC could file a DBA and use an assumed name as follows: Sarah Smith Enterprises LLC doing business as Sarah Williams Enterprises LLC.

DBAs are only valid for 10 years and would need to be re-filed if the business continues to use the assumed name longer than 10 years.  As such, it may be better to file a Certificate of Amendment with the State and simply change the LLC name permanently. Either way, the business's EIN would stay the same and the contracts will remain in effect.

What happens if I do not file a DBA when required?

There are civil and criminal penalties if you choose to use an assumed name without filing an assumed name certificate. You can read about them in the Texas Business & Commerce Code, sections 71.201 and 71.202.

Does a DBA protect me?

Can I file multiple DBAs?

Yes, there is no limit to the number of DBAs a business uses. Each assumed name certificate would need to be filed in accordance with the Texas Business and Commerce Code.

Which business types are best suited for using an assumed name?

While many business types can benefit from using an assumed name/DBA, sole proprietorships use assumed names most often (Mary Kate doing business as Mary K's Cookies). Corporations and LLCs often use DBAs too (i.e. CarMax Business Services, LLC doing business as CarMax)

Do I need a DBA if I’m forming an LLC?

Not unless you want to do business under a different name than the one you will create when establishing your LLC or corporation. Because LLCs and corporations are legal entities with their own rights and obligations, each one must have its own legal business name, which is filed with the Secretary of State. If you decide later to change your business name, you can do so by following the procedure outlined in your governing documents, and submitting a Certificate of Amendment with the Secretary of State. However, if you want to do business under a different name, without going through the formal steps of changing your company name, filing an assumed name certificate is another option.

What if important information about my DBA name has changed?

If anything within the assumed name certificate changes, you’ll need to file a new assumed name certificate within 60 days of the change.

Can I revise an assumed name certificate after filing?

Unfortunately, in Texas, you cannot revise a previously filed assumed name certificate. As such, a new assumed name certificate with the updated/correct information would be required.

Do I need to renew my assumed name certificate?

Yes. When you file your assumed name certificate, you must state the duration of the filing, which can be no more than 10 years. Assuming you choose the maximum term, you’ll need to file a new assumed name certificate every ten years — making sure to do so before your current assumed name certificate expires.

What if I stop using my DBA/assumed name?

If you choose to stop doing business under your assumed name, you may complete and file a Statement of Abandonment or Withdrawal. This is especially important if you stop using the DBA because you convert your sole proprietorship to business entity (i.e. LLC). For example, if Mary Kate filed a DBA for Mary K's Cookies (Mary Kate doing business as Mary K's Cookies) and then she forms an LLC (Mary K's Cookies, LLC) she would want to abandon the old DBA filing to make sure she is not personally sued for future liabilities related to Mary K's Cookies, LLC. A plaintiff can use the old DBA filing as an excuse to sue Mary Kate when the liabilities should be attached to the LLC.

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