File a DBA in Washington – 4 Essential Steps for 2024 Guide

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    Are you interested in understanding the ramifications of registering a DBA in Washington and the necessary steps for completion? You’re in the right place.

    In Washington, a DBA, or “Doing Business As,” allows individuals to operate under an alternative business name, serving various functions such as marketing, sales, and legal purposes. In some areas, this may be known as a fictitious name, assumed name, trade name, or similar.

    It’s important to note that unlike a Limited Liability Company (LLC), a DBA doesn’t establish a formal business entity and doesn’t provide comparable advantages. Many entrepreneurs often find that registering an LLC in Washington is more advantageous due to tax benefits and legal protections.

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    What Is a Washington DBA (Trade Name)?

    A DBA, or Doing Business As name provides an alternative moniker that businesses can utilize in lieu of their official legal business name. In Washington, this is formally termed as a trade name, accessible to all business entities. 

    Essentially, a Washington DBA offers flexibility for business owners to operate under a different name without the necessity of establishing an entirely new business entity.

    Washington DBAs extend beyond sole proprietors; they’re available for various business structures, including general partnerships, LLCs, corporations, and nonprofits. Moreover, Washington DBAs have a perpetual validity, lasting indefinitely until officially terminated through the appropriate administrative procedures.

    Functionally, DBAs serve akin to legal business names, enabling businesses to feature them prominently on marketing materials, social media profiles, and websites even establish dedicated bank accounts. 

    This facilitates transactions such as issuing checks to vendors and receiving payments from customers under the DBA’s name.

    Nevertheless, it’s crucial to recognize that a DBA represents a business nickname rather than its official legal designation. Consequently, during tax filings at both state and federal levels, it’s imperative to employ the legal business name.

    Do I Need a DBA in Washington?

    In accordance with Washington state regulations, any businesses operating as sole proprietorships, general partnerships, corporations, limited liability companies (LLCs), limited partnerships (LPs), limited liability partnerships (LLPs), or out-of-state companies conducting regular business in Washington under a name that differs from their legal name must submit a DBA (Doing Business As) filing to the Washington Secretary of State. This requirement ensures transparency and legal compliance for such entities.

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    Why Hire a Professional Service to File a DBA in Washington? 

    The process of registering a DBA in Washington involves several important steps, each of which plays a crucial role in ensuring a smooth and successful registration. It’s vital to diligently follow these procedures, as any oversight could result in the rejection of your application or even more serious consequences. In fact, Washington state authorities have the power to impose fines or shut down your business if you improperly use a name in legal or business contexts.

    Professional services are available to alleviate concerns and uncertainties surrounding the DBA process. These experts possess extensive knowledge of Washington’s specific requirements and can assist you in selecting an appropriate name before starting the paperwork. 

    Additionally, these companies offer various services, including LLC filing, that can prove invaluable as your business expands.

    After conducting thorough research, we have identified the top professional services tailored to meet your DBA requirements in Washington state:

    How to Register a Trade Name in Washington

    In order to establish a trade name in Washington, it’s necessary to submit a Business License Application to the Department of Revenue. The following steps should be followed:

    1. See if Your Washington Trade Name Is Available

    Before you begin the process of registering your trade name in Washington, it’s essential to ensure that no other business is already using the name you prefer. To conduct a preliminary search of registered business names in the state, you can utilize Washington’s Business Lookup service.

    If you prefer a more comprehensive search conducted by professionals, you have the option to contact Washington’s Business Licensing Service at (360)705-6741. They can assist with your search over the phone. 

    Alternatively, if you prefer written correspondence, you can send a letter to their office, including your preferred trade name(s) and return address. You will receive a response via mail informing you whether or not your desired trade name is available for use.

    Additionally, it would be wise to conduct an online trademark search to ensure that your “Doing Business As” (DBA) name has not been registered at the federal level. This will provide further assurance regarding its availability for use in commerce.

    In addition to confirming the availability of your desired name, your trade name must adhere to the following guidelines:

    • It cannot contain entity identifiers such as “LLC” or “Inc.” if the business isn’t structured as such
    • It must avoid terms like “bank,” “cooperative,” “association,” or any designation (such as a governmental agency) that might lead to customer confusion
    • It must not be identical or excessively similar to other registered business names within the state

    2. Complete the Business License Application

    In the state of Washington, nearly all businesses that engage in sales are required to obtain a business license in order to collect state sales tax. This process also serves as the means for registering a trade name, offering a convenient two-in-one solution. 

    If you have not yet applied for a license, you can acquire both the license and register your trade name simultaneously. However, if you have already submitted an application for a business license, it’s necessary to file another application specifically for obtaining a trade name.

    During the completion of your application, you may notice that it allows for multiple trade names to be registered at once. Each listed trade name incurs a fee of $5.

    If you have previously filed an application, your business will have received what is known as a UBI number (a nine-digit identification number assigned to businesses). This unique identifier enables businesses to collect sales tax within Washington State. 

    For first-time applicants, there is no need to supply a UBI number during the initial filing; instead, one will be assigned after completing the application process.

    The required information to obtain a DBA comprises:

    • The official business name
    • UBI number (if applicable)
    • EIN number
    • Purpose of application
    • Trade name(s)
    • Ownership structure (sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, corporation, etc)
    • Date of business establishment
    • Previous registration details of the business name/trade name (if any)
    • Mailing address/physical location of the business
    • Owner details (social security number, contact number, etc)
    • Employee status
    • Business category (e.g., drywall, logging, media, etc)
    • Signature of the business owner or authorized legal representative

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    3. Submit the Application and Pay the Processing Fee

    The fee for processing a trade name can vary. The initial fee for filing an application is $50, with an additional $5 per trade name. If you have previously filed an application and are now applying for a trade name, the filing fee will be $10 plus $5 per trade name. You have the option to file online, by mail, or in person.


    Washington Department of Revenue


    Washington Department of Revenue

    Business Licensing Service

    PO Box 9034

    Olympia WA 98507-9034


    Local office locations

    4. Manage Your Washington Trade Name

    Renew Your Trade Name Registration With the State:

    Your trade name registration in Washington remains valid indefinitely and doesn’t require renewal.

    Change Your Trade Name:

    If you wish to modify your DBA name, you can do so conveniently online or by utilizing the registration form. Simply check the designated box indicating your intention to change the trade name.

    Withdraw Your Trade Name:

    To cancel your trade name registration, you have several options. You can initiate the cancellation process online, complete the business information change form, or reach out via email to Alternatively, you can send a fax to the Business Licensing Service at (360) 705-6699 to request cancellation.

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    Best DBA Filing Services to Register Fictitious Name in Washington – WA DBA

    Explore the top-notch services for registering a fictitious name in Washington state.

    Business Rocket logo

    BusinessRocket is a valuable resource for individuals looking to file a Doing Business As (DBA) in Washington. This platform caters specifically to entrepreneurs and business owners, providing them with a seamless and user-friendly experience. 

    By offering intuitive online tools and step-by-step guidance, BusinessRocket simplifies the complex paperwork typically associated with DBA registration in Washington.

    The main objective of BusinessRocket is to streamline the entire process by guiding individuals through the legal requirements while ensuring that their chosen business name is unique and complies with Washington regulations. 

    With features like document preparation and filing assistance, BusinessRocket makes it easier for individuals to navigate the DBA registration process smoothly, ultimately helping them establish their presence in Washington with confidence.

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    Northwest Registered Agent logo

    Northwest Registered Agent is a trusted choice for a range of legal services, including DBA filings in Washington. As a registered agent service, they provide businesses with a physical address that meets the state’s requirements for operating under an alternate name.

    In addition to DBA filings, Northwest Registered Agent offers other compliance services such as submitting annual reports and forwarding mail. 

    This comprehensive approach ensures that businesses remain in good standing with the state, freeing up business owners from administrative tasks so they can dedicate their time and energy to growing their companies.

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    ZenBusiness is an all-inclusive platform for business services that offers support to entrepreneurs at every phase, including the process of filing a DBA in Washington. 

    With a focus on simplicity and affordability, ZenBusiness provides an easily accessible online platform that guides users through the necessary steps for registering a DBA in Washington.

    This service not only helps with checking name availability but also takes care of preparing the required documents and submitting filings to the relevant authorities in Washington. 

    Furthermore, ZenBusiness provides ongoing assistance with compliance matters, making it an invaluable resource for entrepreneurs who want a hassle-free and compliant approach to establishing their business identity in the state.

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    How Much Does a DBA Filing Cost in Washington?

    The filing fee for a DBA in Washington is $24, which remains valid indefinitely and doesn’t necessitate renewal. This fee comprises a $19 processing charge for your Business License Application along with a $5 fee for the trade name registration.

    Washington DBA Tax Considerations

    • In Washington, a DBA simply alters the business name and doesn’t impact the tax status of the business entity
    • A DBA doesn’t necessitate obtaining a distinct employer identification number as it doesn’t establish a separate legal entity
    • The IRS doesn’t mandate the acquisition of a separate tax ID number for DBAs

    DBA vs. LLC in Washington

    The term “DBA” is simply a business name without any personal asset protection, unlike a Washington LLC. An LLC is a legally recognized business entity that provides liability protection to business owners in the event of legal action or bankruptcy.

    When you register an LLC with the state, it establishes a distinct legal entity separate from the business owners (also known as members). This separation is what safeguards the personal assets of LLC owners. On the other hand, a DBA serves as a tool for an LLC to operate under an alternative business name but doesn’t offer any form of liability protection.

    For sole proprietors or general partnerships seeking an affordable way to have their own unique business name, opting for a Washington trade name (DBA) may be suitable. However, if your goal is to safeguard your assets, then establishing a Washington LLC would be more appropriate.

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    File a DBA in Washington – Frequently Asked Questions

    For those who are still uncertain about the process of filing a DBA in Washington, this article will provide the necessary information to address any concerns or inquiries you may have.

    Conclusion – File a DBA in Washington

    In order to provide a comprehensive understanding of how to register a DBA (Doing Business As) in Washington, we have developed an extensive guide that consists of four essential steps. By following these steps, the process can be executed seamlessly and efficiently. 

    For those seeking a more streamlined and uncomplicated experience, BusinessRocket offers its expertise as a reliable service that simplifies the DBA filing procedure.

    By choosing BusinessRocket as your trusted partner in establishing and strengthening your business identity, you can save valuable time while ensuring accuracy at every stage of the registration process. Allow us to guide you towards success by providing our expert assistance.

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