Texas Assumed Name Certificates
An assumed name is also known as a “DBA” (short for Doing Business As)
Every person or entity that conducts business or provides services under an assumed name (i.e. a name that is not the same as the legal name of the business entity or the name of the sole proprietor) must file an assumed name certificate or “DBA.” DBAs serve two main purposes: (1) a DBA notifies the public who is doing business under the assumed name and (2) a DBA is a 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 company chooses to do business that is different from the individual’s name, or the official business name.
Where should I file my DBA?
How much does it cost to file a DBA?
The Texas Secretary of State charges $25 and the County Clerk charges about $15 depending on the county. We charge a flat fee of $125 (our fee includes the recording fee). Click on the button below to provide us with the information we need to file your DBA for you.
How long does it take to file a DBA?
It depends on where the DBA needs to be filed. 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). The state version of the DBA (only needed for Corporations and LLCs) is e-signed (by me) and e-filed with the state and thus often completed/file-stamped same day. The county version (all businesses will require a county version) will be prepared and sent to you for signing on the same or next business day. Some counties allow us to e-file the signed DBA and thus the filing is quick (i.e. 1 business day). If the county does not allow e-filing, 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-filing: Brazoria, Dallas, Eastland, Fort Bend, Hays, Liberty, Medina, Parker, Potter, Randall, Smith, Starr, Travis, Victoria, and Webb.
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 Disposition of Interest.
What happens if I do not comply with Texas law regarding DBAs?
The Texas Business and Commerce Code provides for both civil and criminal penalties for failure to comply.
Does a DBA protect me?
Can I file multiple DBAs?
Yes, but 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’s Treats). Corporations and LLCs often use DBAs too (i.e. Doctor’s Associates, Inc. doing business as Subway)
Do I need to create a DBA or file an assumed name certificate 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 I want to do business under a name that another business is already using?
If you’re considering expanding your business into a new state, but another business already exists with the same name as yours, a DBA can be a good solution. Unlike an LLC name, which must be different from all other LLCs in your state, a DBA name does not have to be unique. It is perfectly legal for two DBAs to exist in the same state, with the same name. A DBA may also have the same name as an existing LLC. However, it is important to note that filing an assumed name does not give grant the right to use the name in a way that violates the law, including unfair trade practices, copyright, trademark and laws of unfair competition.
How do I register an assumed name certificate in Texas?
You’ll need to file an assumed name certificate with the county clerk in the county of your principal place of business. If your primary place of business is outside the state, file it in the county of your registered office in Texas. If the assumed name is used by a Texas business entity (like an LLC or corporation) you have to file an assumed name certificate (Form 503), with the Texas Secretary of State as well.
What if important information about my DBA name has changed?
If your name, address, or business structure 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?
No. A new Assumed Name Certificate would be required.
Do I need to renew my assumed name certificate? How often must I do so?
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 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’s Treats (Mary Kate doing business as Mary’s Treats) and then she forms an LLC (Mary’s Treats, LLC) she would want to abandon the old DBA filing to make sure she is not personally sued for future liabilities related to Mary’s Treats. A plaintiff can use the old DBA filing as an excuse to sue Mary Kate when the liabilities should be attached to the LLC.
What if I don’t file an assumed name certificate, but use a DBA name anyway?
There are penalties for not filing an assumed name certificate, if you choose to use a DBA name. You can read about them in the Texas Business & Commerce Code, sections 71.201 and 71.202.