How to Close a DBA

A DBA, or "doing business as," ensures that you possess the sole right to use a specific trade name in your county or state. For example, if you own the DBA "Tim's Electronics," nobody else can legally come along and open their own Tim's Electronics down the street. A DBA is also referred to, in some jurisdictions, as an assumed name or a fictitious business name. If you want to cancel your DBA, you will need to do so much in the same way that you established your DBA in the first place.

Visit the department where you first established your DBA. You can complete this step online or in person. If your state processes DBA registration at the state level, you should visit the office of the secretary of state or department of state. If your state processes DBA registration at the county level, you must go through your local county clerk or registrar-recorder.

Request a DBA abandonment form. If browsing the department's website, you can find this on the main "DBA" or "Fictitious Business Name" registration page. It may read "DBA Abandonment," "Dissolve Fictitious Business Name" or "DBA Cancellation." Some states and counties will not have a separate form for abandonment, but will require you to use the main DBA registration form, so check that as well. You should see two check boxes near the top of the form: one that reads "Filing," and one that reads "Abandonment" or something similar.

Fill out the entire form and read the fine print carefully. Just as you previously paid a filing fee to establish your DBA, the form may also request a filing fee for abandoning your fictitious business name.

Present the form, along with the filing fee (if applicable) to the appropriate department. The form should provide a street address to which you can submit the document by mail, but if you fill out the form online, you can submit it automatically. You can also present it to the appropriate department in person.

Publish your abandoned DBA in a local, approved newspaper or periodical. Some states require you to publish any new DBA names for up to four consecutive weeks after filing (in the business section of a local newspaper). Most of those same states also require you to publish a statement after abandoning a DBA. Contact local newspapers about rates for publication. Your government agency should also provide you with publication information, including a list of approved periodicals in your county or state.

Tips

  • Unless you plan to transfer your DBA to another party, you may not need to formally abandon it at all. In most states, DBAs automatically expire after five years, and unless you take the steps necessary to renew it, it will go away on its own.