5 Steps to Start a DBA in Texas

September 29, 2021
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Starting a DBA in Texas may be useful for your small business. A DBA can allow you to use a different business name without its legal name, which may be beneficial.

While it isn’t difficult to start a DBA in Texas, there are essential things to know beforehand. Your business entity plays a vital role in how you’ll start your DBA, and there are different forms you’ll complete based on your business entity. Here are the five steps to start a DBA in Texas.

What is a DBA?

A DBA is an acronym for Doing Business As. DBAs are helpful if a business entity wants to conduct business using a name different from its legal name.

DBAs in Texas are also known as an assumed name.

Which business entities register for a DBA in Texas?

In Texas, the following business entities will file an assumed name certificate, with the county clerk, in each county where they have a business office:

  • General partnerships
  • Joint ventures
  • Sole proprietorships

The following business entities will file an assumed name certificate with the county clerk and the Secretary of State:

  • Corporations (for-profit, nonprofit, professional, or other incorporated entities) 
  • Limited liability companies (including professional limited liability companies)
  • Limited liability partnerships
  • Limited partnerships
  • Professional associations

These entities must also maintain a registered agent file in the county where the DBA’s principal office is located, if in Texas, or where the registered office is located, if outside of Texas.

DBA Requirements in Texas

There are two DBA requirements for business entities in Texas. 

Business entities must file a new certificate at the Secretary of State, or within the county or counties of business operation, within 60 days of a change in: 

  • Admission of a new partner or venture for partnerships
  • An end to a partner or joint venture for partnerships
  • Entity
  • Form of business or professional organization
  • Identity
  • Location of a registrant 
  • Ownership (for a proprietorship or sole practitioner)
  • Name

A second requirement for a DBA in Texas is about assumed name certificates. Business entities filing an assumed name certificate with the Secretary of State are no longer required to file an assumed name certificate with the county clerk.

DBA Fees in Texas

The exact amount you’ll pay for DBA fees will vary depending on where you file for a DBA. 

If you file with the Secretary of State, you’ll pay $25 for each assumed name certificate and $10 for each statement of abandonment of an assumed name certificate.

There may be different fees if you’ll file your DBA with a county clerk in Texas.

Does a DBA need an EIN?

You won’t need an EIN to form a DBA in Texas. The IRS assigns an EIN based on the legal name of a business entity, not a DBA name. 

How to start a DBA in Texas

There are five steps to start a DBA in Texas.

Step 1: Check Name Availability

The first step to start a DBA is to check name availability. Your DBA name must be distinguishable from business names filed with the Secretary of State. 

To see if your business name is available, you can search for small businesses’ entity name, file number, or tax ID with the Comptroller of Public Accounts.

Finding a unique brand name and (normal-looking) domain to go with it can be a bit of a time-sink for new business owners. This free tool from Business Name Zone generates name and domain combos for you based on your input – and it only takes a few minutes.

Step 2: Obtain Assumed Name Certificate

The next step to start a DBA in Texas is to obtain an assumed name certificate. You’ll use either a county clerk’s form or a form from the Secretary of State.

If your business entity is a general partnership, joint venture, or sole proprietorship, you’ll complete an assumed name certificate form at your county clerk’s office. 

All other business entities will file Form 503 with the Secretary of State and submit it to use their DBA in Texas.

Step 3: Complete Form

Third, you’ll complete Form 503, the Assumed Name Certificate form. There are five sections to the form: 

  • Assumed Name 
  • Entity Information 
  • Period of Duration
  • County or Counties in which Assumed Name Used
  • Execution

In the first section of the form, you’ll provide the assumed name for your business entity. Next, you’ll proceed to the Entity Information section, where in the first section, you’ll provide the legal name of your entity. 

In the second portion of the Entity Information section, you’ll check the entity filing for the assumed name. You’ll have several options to choose from: 

  • For-profit Corporation
  • Nonprofit Corporation
  • Professional Corporation
  • Professional Association
  • Limited Liability Company
  • Limited Partnership
  • Limited Liability Partnership
  • Cooperative Association
  • Other

After checking the entity, you’ll proceed to the rest of the Entity Information questions. You’ll provide the file number (if any) issued to the entity by the Secretary of State. You’ll also list the state, country, or other jurisdiction of the formation of the entity. Finally, you’ll list the principal office address of your business entity.

The third section of the Assumed Name Certificate is the Period of Duration. All business entities seeking an assumed name have a maximum of 10 years from the filing date to use the name. You’ll choose if:

  • You want the assumed name to be used for 10 years (Check 7a).
  • You want the assumed name to be used years after the filing date, which can’t exceed 10 years (Check 7b).
  • You want the assumed name to be used until a certain date, which can’t exceed 10 years (Check 7c).

The fourth section of the Assumed Name Certificate form is where you’ll list the county or counties where your assumed name will be used. You have three options to select from: 

  • All counties
  • All counties, with the exception of the following counties 
  • Only the following counties 

If you check the second or third option, you’ll also write the counties where the assumed name will be used. 

The last part of the Assumed Name Certificate is the Execution section. You’ll provide the date and a signature. Depending on your business entity, the person who can sign on behalf of your entity can vary. Signatures can come from:

  • A general partner
  • A member
  • A manager 
  • An officer
  • Attorney
  • Representative of entity

Step 4: Notarize Form

The fourth step to DBA in Texas is to know whether to notarize the form. There’s an important requirement to keep in mind, which may affect you depending on your business structure.

If your business entity is unincorporated, you’ll need to have your form notarized if submitting by mail

It doesn’t need to be notarized if you file an assumed name certificate form (Form 503) with the Secretary of State. You’ll use this form to file and submit it to the Secretary of State.

Step 5: Submit Form

The last step to starting a DBA in Texas is to submit the form. If you completed the form at the county clerk’s office, you’ll submit it and pay any required fees. 

If you completed Form 503, you could send the form by fax or mail to the Secretary of State. There’s a filing fee of $25 for the Assumed Name Certificate, which you’ll submit to the Secretary of State. 

We Can Help You Start a DBA in Texas

Having a DBA can be useful as your small business grows. The state of Texas offers convenient options so that you can start a DBA. 

When it is time to start a DBA in Texas, we’re here to help. Work with entity formation professionals at 1-800Accountant to start your DBA in Texas. 

This post is to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, business, or tax advice. Each person should consult his or her own attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in this post. 1-800Accountant assumes no liability for actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.