How to Register an Iowa DBA

Updated: September 27, 2023
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Filing a DBA (doing business as) name is the easiest way to register your business name in Iowa. An Iowa DBA, also known as an Trade Name, allows a business to operate under a different name than its legal name. A DBA allows unincorporated businesses like sole proprietors or partnerships to use a business name that doesn’t include the owners’ names. DBAs can also be used by an LLC or Corporation to operate different lines of business under different names or for branding purposes.

Registering an Iowa DBA (Trade Name) can be very useful, however, it’s important to note that a DBA doesn’t provide the legal benefits and protections that operating under a formal business structure like an LLC or Corporation does. If you’re starting a new business in Iowa it’s often a better idea to consider forming an Iowa LLC as you’ll have a registered business name and get extra legal protections and tax benefits that a DBA does not provide on its own. For more detailed information on the key differences between an LLC and a DBA, check out our DBA vs LLC guide.

Iowa DBA Name Filing Help

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Who Needs an Iowa DBA?

Any business that operates using a business that is different from its legal name should register an Trade Name to ensure they comply with local and state laws. DBAs are useful for a variety of business types and purposes. Some of these include:

  • Allow unincorporated businesses (sole proprietors or partnerships) to operate using a name that does not include the owners’ names. This can help to protect the privacy of the owner.
  • Enable sole proprietors and partnerships to open a business-only bank account to keep personal and business activity separated.
  • Create a unique brand name for different lines of business or for franchised businesses to operate under their desired name. This is especially useful for LLCs and Corporations as it allows them to have different products or services without needing to create multiple legal entities for each line of business.

How to Register an Iowa Trade Name (DBA)

Before registering your DBA you’ll need to come up with a good business name. You probably already have your business name in mind, but if not you’ll want to ensure that the name follows best practices for a good business name like being clear, concise, unique, and memorable. For more tips visit our guide on how to come up with a business name. Once you have a good business name the process to file your Iowa DBA is fairly straightforward.

How to File a DBA in Iowa

How to File a DBA in Iowa:

  1. Conduct a Business Name Availability Search
  2. File your Trade Name Application

Step 1: Conduct a Business Name Availability Search

To get an Iowa Trade Name (DBA), you want to start with a business name availability search. To increase the likelihood that your DBA application will be accepted, you will need to ensure that no other business uses the Trade Name that you wish to use and that your business name is unique.

Why is it important to have a unique Business Name?

Your business name is the foundation of your strategic marketing strategy. Choosing a name similar to other businesses can get you lost in the white noise of competition. One massive benefit of an Iowa Trade Name is that it provides you the one chance to break away from the pack.

Without the unique Trade Name, you could be handicapping the best marketing and sales efforts to get your name out there. Worse yet, you could be sending business to others using a similar name.

To recap, we suggest that you do an extensive search to ensure the following:

  • The Trade Name is not currently in use nor too similar to other businesses
  • The business name has never been used previously

Searches to Complete

  • Search the Iowa Online Database: Verify that your desired DBA Name is available to register and is not currently used by an existing business. You can complete this by using the Iowa Business Entities Search.
  • Check the US Patent and Trademark (USPTO) System: Once you have verified that your name is available for registration, you’ll also want to ensure that the name is not trademarked. Since the trademark process is at the federal level, it supersedes any level registrations. You can search the USPTO Trademark database here.
  • Website Domain Search: You will also want to complete a domain name search to check if the .com version of your business name is available. If you don’t plan to create a business website, you should still consider registering the domain name to prevent others from using it. Since you can register a new .com domain for less than $10 with Namecheap, it can serve as a very cheap form of insurance against someone using the domain.

Step 2: File your Trade Name Application

Once you have completed all the required name availability searches and confirmed that your name can be used, it’s time to complete your Iowa Trade Name registration. The process to file a DBA in Iowa is different depending on the business structure. If you’re operating as an Iowa sole proprietorship or partnership you’ll need to file with your local County Clerk’s office. All other business entity types including Iowa LLCs or Corporations file with the Iowa Secretary of State.

To complete your Trade Name Application be sure you have the following information finalized and on hand:

  • Desired Trade Name
  • Full Name, Address and Phone for each business owner
  • Business Address
  • Business Phone Number
  • Business Description

File an Iowa DBA as a Sole Proprietor or Partnership

To register a DBA as an Iowa sole proprietorship or partnership, you’ll need to obtain the Trade Name form from the County Clerk’s office. Be aware that the DBA form can vary from county to county so be sure to obtain the correct form from the county where your business is located. In most cases, you will need to have the document notarized for the County Clerk’s office to accept your filing. Submit your completed DBA form along with the filing fee of $7 for the first page and $5 for every additional page.

File an Iowa DBA as an LLC or Corporation

If you operate as an LLC or Corporation you’ll need to complete the Trade Name Application form and submit to the Iowa Secretary of State along with the filing fee. The DBA filing fee is 5.

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Iowa DBA Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

How much does it cost to get a DBA in Iowa?

The filing cost for a DBA in Iowa is $7 for the first page and $5 for every additional page.

How long is an Iowa DBA good for?

DBAs in Iowa are valid in perpetuity after initial being initially registered and do not need to be renewed.

Where do I register an Iowa DBA?

Iowa DBAs are registered with the county recorder’s office.

Do I need to register my Iowa DBA with the IRS?

No, IRS does not require DBAs to be registered.

What is the purpose of a DBA in Iowa?

Iowa DBAs allow businesses to operate under a different name than their legal name. This allows sole proprietors and partnership businesses to operate under names that do not include their owners’ names.

Can an LLC own a DBA in Iowa?

Yes, an LLC can have as many DBA names as they require to operate their business in Iowa.

Is there a difference between an Iowa DBA and an Trade Name?

No, a DBA or “doing business as” name is the same thing as an Trade Name in Iowa.