A DBA is a “doing business as” certificate that states who is behind a business’s name. It’s often called filing a fictitious business name or filing an assumed name certificate. Anyone who is not doing business under his own legal name must file one. The purpose is for the government to know the names of the individuals behind a business name. For example, if John Jones and Steve Smith run ABC Company, the county clerk will know who is responsible for the business’s responsibilities, debts and actions. In Virginia, you must file a DBA with the county you are doing business in. Corporations and LLCs also have to file their DBAs with the Virginia State Corporation Commission.
Obtain from the county circuit court clerk’s office an assumed name or DBA application for every county in which you intend to do business in Virginia. Enter your business information into the fields provided on the form.
Sign the form in the presence of a notary public and pay him to affix the notary seal to the document along with his own signature.
Take the assumed name certificate back to the county circuit court clerk’s office to file it with the county in question.
Pay the county circuit clerk fees to record the DBA with the clerk and for each certificate you want for your own records.
Take your county DBA certificate to the local office of the Virginia State Corporation Commission if your business is an LLC or corporation. File your DBA certificate or certificates with the Virginia SCC clerk and pay the filing fee.
Counties where you have a physical location to do business are those where you should file a DBA application. You can do business with customers all over the country, but the physical address of your business determines where you file your DBA paperwork.
Failure to file a DBA when doing business under a fictitious name can result in up to a $2500 fine and a year of jail time.
These instructions may vary depending on the Virginia county you are dealing with. Contact the county’s circuit court clerk office for specific instructions and fees for a particular county.