Doing Business As
D.B.A. or “Doing Business As” is not only a cool bar in the East Village, it also refers to individuals (sole proprietorships), partnerships, corporations and other entities that do business under a name different from their real name. For example, Joe Smith operates a computer service business under the name “Computer Geeks to the Rescue,” (fictional example) and Town Sports International, LLC operates a popular gym under the name “New York Sports Club” (real life example.)
If you are starting a business, but don’t want to form a legal entity yet (corporation or LLC), a business certificate gives you the ability to call your business something other than your personal name.
When you do business under a name different from your real name, you have to file a business certificate either with the county clerk of your county or with the Secretary of State in Albany. Here are the rules:
1. For Individuals and Partnerships
If you conduct business under an assumed name as an individual (sole proprietor) or partnership, you must file a “certificate of assumed name” or “business certificate” in the county in which you conduct business. Such certificate basically has to set forth the real name and the address of your business and certain other information ( New York General Business Law Section 130(1)(a) .)
In New York County, you have to file your business certificate with the County Clerk in the basement at 60 Centre Street. The necessary form can be purchased at the little coffee shop on the first floor next to the security lines at the entrance (on your right when you first come in). The filing fee is $100. For more information see here.
If you have more than one business under assumed names, you can file more than one business certificate.
2. For Corporations and other Entities
If you conduct business under an assumed name as a corporation, limited liability company or limited partnership, you also must file a business certificate (New York General Business Law Section 130(1)(b).)
This time, however, you have to file the certificate with the Secretary of State. The filing fee is $25. However, for corporations it can become expensive. They collect an extra $100 for each county within New York in which the corporation does business and an extra $25 for each county outside of New York City, with a maximum fee of $1,950.
For more information, including a pdf form with instructions, see here.
Important to Know: “A certified copy of the original certificate, or if an amended certificate has been filed, then of the most recent amended certificate filed shall be conspicuously displayed on the premises at each place in which the business for which the same was filed is conducted.” (§130 Gen Bus. Law)