DBA is an abbreviation for “doing business as,” and is a legal requirement in some jurisdictions where a business is going by a name other than its legal name.
A business’s legal name is the name that is on the papers that were filed when the business was first established. For many small businesses, such as a partnership or a sole proprietorship, the legal name is the name of its owner or owners. If the owner or owners would like to conduct business and open a bank account, for example, using any other name, it can only be done legally after the owner or owners fulfill the DBA filing requirements in the state that they are operating in.
For example, if the owner of a bakery named Joe Brown decided to do business as the Better Bread Bakery, he might be required by local, county, or state regulations to register the name “Better Bread Bakery, and would be doing business as Better Bread Bakery; it would be his DBA. The way to file for a DBA varies from state to state. In many jurisdictions, all a business owner needs to do is go to the municipal, county or state office and pay a registration fee. In other jurisdictions the requirements are a little more stringent: the business owner might first be required, for example, to place a fictitious name advertisement in a local newspaper for a specified period of time.
Michael Aamoth is the President of MSA Music, Inc, and doing business as Midwest Musical Imports, the business he founded in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1983.