What is a DBA?

doing business as

A DBA is the abbreviation for the wording “doing business as”.  This allows one business entity to exist under another business or legal entity.  The DBA can be used as a secondary or alternative business name under either an existing corporation or partnership in some jurisdictions.  If you wish to be able to conduct business under a different business name as an assumed name under the existing business established, this is a great option to do so.

The DBA falls under the category of business licenses including Sole Proprietorship, General Partnerships and Tradenames.  

If you wish to register the business under your own personal name such as “john doe’, a registration is not required.  You have the legal ability to register your own personal name.

DBA REGISTRATION

How does a DBA work?

A “doing business as” business name has to be attached to an existing corporation or in some cases existing General Partnership or Partnership depending on the jurisdiction.  You cannot attach a DBA to a Sole Proprietorship or Proprietorship.  If you already have an existing corporation and wish to operate under a secondary business name, you can complete a DBA registration and have this additional business name as a secondary business name to your existing business.  If you haven’t incorporated yet and know you wish to operate with a secondary business name from the beginning of your startup, the DBA registration can be submitted  as soon as the incorporation has been completed.  Typically, on a same day basis.

The DBA once registered can be added to your existing corporate business bank account and may be available to your partnership bank account. The bank requires a copy of the DBA registration. Most likely, you will need to attend your financial institution and provide them with a copy of the DBA registration and photo ID. 

What other wording applies to DBA’s?

  • DBA
  • Doing Business As
  • Trade name
  • Operating Name
  • Assumed Names
  • Business Name For a Corporation (new as of October 21)

How to use DBA’s for your Corporation?

DBA’s can be used as a marketing tool in putting forward a business name about a specific service or product you offer. Let’s use an example to help you understand how to use the DBA’s to market your business and benefit you and your business.

You have already incorporated a company, for example let’s use the fictitious company name of Gizmo Construction Ltd.; The business is doing very well and you would like to focus more specifically on your expertise within your industry such as stonework and landscaping. Using a DBA filing where you register a business such as Gizmo Stonework or Gizmo Landscaping gives you a business name that reflects an area of the business you wish to highlight and garnish specific clients.

You do not have to use the same keyword you have used in the corporation and can use a completely different name such as Arch’s Stoneworks or Premium Landscaping.  The benefit to using the same primary keywords in the DBA filing as your corporate name is that you have used the same primary keywords the corporation provides and has name protection for. The DBA therefore has name protection extended from the Incorporation name.  

The full DBA name would not have name protection as that entitlement is only available for the corporate name however using the same initial keywords does provide some protection supported by your corporate name.  Remember, your corporate name has name protection, the DBA name does not.  The DBA name does have liability protection when registered under the corporation.

  • Corporation Name:  Gizmo Construction Inc.
  • Gizmo Stonework
  • Gizmo Landscaping
  • Gizmo Stonework & Landscaping
  • Arch’s Stonework 
  • Premium Landscaping

How to use a DBA under a Firm Name For a General Partnership?

New to the Province of Ontario as of October 2021, you can now add a secondary business name or DBA under your existing Firm Name For a General Partnership.  The previous name of this registration was simply called a General Partnership.  General Partnerships involve two or more individuals or corporations who together register under a single registered business.  Now, a Firm Name For a General Partnership can register a secondary business name as a DBA “doing business name” under the partnership.  The DBA will be attached to your personal assets and not your business credit or business finance.  The Firm Name For a General Partnership is attached to your personal assets and therefore, so is the DBA.  The DBA filing does not have liability protection nor does the General Partnership.  Business insurance is available to assist you with providing protection where the partnership does not.

  • Firm Name for a General Partnership:  Gizmo Construction Company
  • DBA “doing business as” examples:
  • Gizmo Stonework
  • Gizmo Landscaping
  • Gizmo Stonework & Landscaping
  • Arch’s Stonework 
  • Premium Landscaping

How much does it cost to register a DBA?

The cost to start or  register a DBA in Ontario is $143.62.

How long are DBA’s valid as a registration?

The registration in Ontario is valid for 5 years.  After 5 years, you will need to renew the registration.  We will keep track of the renewal date and send you a reminder in 5 years from when you originally register

Can I use a legal ending such as Inc. or Ltd?

The legal endings as provided above along with many others are solely available for incorporating businesses.  They include Inc or Corp, Ltd, Limited, Corporation, or Incorporated. The DBA is under the Business Names Act and therefore the legal entity endings are not available.  You can however use wordings such as company, enterprise, co. unlimited for your DBA name.

DBA REGISTRATION

Is a DBA the same as an LLC?

In the United States, an LLC is a formation available as an incorporated business as a one of the options for limited liability companies.  Forming an LLC is not available in Canada.

What if I want name protection for the DBA?

A DBA or doing business as name does not have name protection as mentioned above.  If you wish to legally protect the business name, you may want to consider incorporating a secondary business or registering a trademark.  These are the only two ways of gaining name protection for the new business name.

What if I don’t want a new business to be part of an existing business?

If a new business you are intending to register has no connection to your existing corporation or general partnership, you can start your business by  incorporating, registering a new Sole Proprietorship or Partnership and maintain exclusivity between different business operations.  Sometimes individuals will want to keep different businesses as separate entities when considering such items as selling one business but maintaining another.  With the Sole Proprietorship and General Partnership, you are personally liable for the risks of the business venture.

Do I have to file a DBA if I shorten my corporate name?

In short, yes a legal business is required.  You are only entitled to use the exact legal name as provided in the Articles of Incorporation.  As example, if you wish to shorten the corporate name as mentioned above from Gizmo Construction Inc. to either Gizmo Construction or Gizmo, a DBA is required.  Often businesses that have signage for storefront will incorporate to have the benefits of incorporation and will complete a DBA to reduce the full legal name to use for the store.

How many DBA’s can you own?

You can own and operate as many DBA’s names as you wish.  Many large corporations have hundreds of DBA’s.  Not that you would want that many but many smaller businesses often operate multiple DBA’s to highlight different areas of their business.  This can be a very effective marketing scheme.  When a potential customer sees that you offer exactly what they are looking for, when you offer more than one area of products or service, this can greatly increase the opportunity for a sale.

What are the advantages of filing a DBA?

If you are operating a business name outside of the existing corporation or general partnership, you are legally required to register any new business name you are using.

What is required for completing DBA Forms?

  • Name of DBA
  • Name and number of Corporation or Firm Name For General Partnership
  • Business Address
  • Business Activity (Naics code)
  • Name of Director Or Partner
  • Official email address
  • Company Key (not mandatory)

DBA REGISTRATION

How to Market the DBA name?

Once you have registered the DBA name, you can advertise the business exactly as you have been able to advertise the corporate name whether that is in local newspapers or print media, radio, or social media.

If you wish to have an online presence for the DBA name whether it’s an informational or ecommerce website, you may want to complete a domain registration in case overtime you want to have a separate website.  You can create a website with a few pages in a very short amount of time.

An option is to have one website but have secondary websites as subdomains from the original website that specifically address that product or service.  Yes, all of this takes time and money so it’s food for thought to not put yourself too far out initially but to have a plan of attack as your business expands to increase exposure and sales.

Is a “doing business as” name a good business strategy?

As part of a business structure a secondary business name can strengthen your business and its brand then yes, it is a good idea.  Remember with having a secondary business name, you will need to put effort into promoting this business name and getting it in the marketplace as you have done with your corporate name or General Partnership.  For some, this can be overwhelming so ensure you are prepared to promote and support essentially a new business under your existing brand.  You want to be able to be available and support those additional customers who are specifically looking for what the DBA is offering.  The DBA is also a way for you to reach out to a new type of business that doesn’t have anything to do with your core corporate or general partnership identity.  In doing this, just note that the DBA business name will always be attached to your originating corporate or general partnership name.

How to file taxes for DBA’s?

If the new DBA is registered under an existing corporation, the DBA falls under the corporate tax filing and is not associated with the individual owners.

If the new DBA is registered under a Firm Name For a General Partnership, the DBA taxation falls under the individual owners or the individual corporate partner owners of the business.

Ontario Business Central is here to assist you with any questions you may have regarding registering a secondary business under either your corporation or Firm Name for a General Partnership.  We also offer a wide variety of other business services including starting a business as an

Ontario Incorporation
Federal Incorporation
Sole Proprietorship 
Extra Provincial License 
and many other related services.

Our business is to help you with yours!

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inquiries@ontariobusinesscentral.ca
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Ontario Business Central Inc. is not a law firm and cannot provide a legal opinion or advice. This information is to assist you in understanding the requirements of registration within the chosen jurisdiction. It is always recommended, when you have legal or accounting questions that you speak to a qualified professional.