One of the most important parts of any business is its name. Your limited liability company’s name is your first impression with prospective clients, whether they hear about your business by word of mouth, drive past a billboard advertising your business on the freeway, or if they stumble upon your business as a result of a Google search.
One way to change your business name — or to add an additional name that your LLC can use interchangeably — is by filing a “doing business as” name application, commonly known as a DBA. There are many reasons to get a DBA — from marketing a new product line to granting a sole proprietorship the ability to use an assumed name — so this article will walk you through the process of registering a DBA for your Alaska LLC.
What Is a DBA?
To begin, let’s quickly run down what exactly a DBA is. One point of confusion we often hear about is that a DBA is not a business entity, like an LLC, corporation, sole proprietorship, general partnership, etc. Instead, you can think of a DBA as an add-on feature of sorts.
The DBA allows you to create alternate business names for your entity, which you can then use interchangeably with your LLC’s official business name. In addition, for informal business entities that don’t have exclusive business names (like sole proprietorships and general partnerships), a DBA can be a great way to inject some additional professionalism into a business venture.
But let’s talk strictly about LLCs, shall we? Why would an LLC want an additional business name? There are several potential reasons, although they obviously vary considerably depending on what your business does. One popular reason is to differentiate a new product line from a company’s existing offerings.
Let’s say that you own a business called “Fine Footwear, LLC” that produces high-end shoes. If you decide to also start a new product line that sells inexpensive flip-flop sandals, you might want a way to differentiate this brand from your core business. In this circumstance, you could register a DBA for “Flip-Flops by Fine Footwear,” and you can use this name to market your new products, while your original product line remains unaffected if your sandal side business fails.
It could also be helpful if you decide to expand your local business into a new market. For instance, if you own an Alaska-based plumbing business called “Anchorage Plumbing,” and you want to expand beyond Anchorage, you can register a DBA for “Fairbanks Plumbing” and use that name in the Fairbanks market.
The state of Alaska lines up this process a bit differently than most states, and their qualifications are different as well. For instance, this state has more naming restrictions than many other states, and it also requires each DBA to be both reserved and registered, which are two separate processes requiring separate forms.
Even more importantly though, Alaska guarantees the exclusivity of your DBA name for a period of five years after you register it. Considering that many states offer no exclusivity for DBA names whatsoever, this is an excellent benefit.
How to Get a DBA for an Alaska LLC
The process for obtaining a DBA in Alaska is considerably different from the process in nearly every other state. This is because Alaska requires entrepreneurs to acquire a business entity license and file a Business Name Registration form for each different name the LLC goes by. In other states, you would usually just need to file another DBA application, but Alaska requires an additional license as well.
The first step for registering a DBA for your Alaska LLC is to search the state’s business database to ensure that the name you want is available. Then, you will need to obtain a business entity license for that name by filing online right here. Each business license will cost you $50 per year, and you can sign up for either one or two years right off the bat.
Once you have your business entity license, you can prepare and file the Business Name Registration form, which you can either complete on a paper form or file online. In addition to your $25 filing fee, the Business Name Registration document requires the following information: the DBA name you’re registering (must be identical to the business name on your license), your LLC’s Alaska Business License Number, an indication that your business is registered as an LLC, your LLC’s principal business address, the name and mailing address of the LLC’s owner, the nature of your business, and your signature, printed name, title, and the date.
You will also need to fill out the state’s Contact Information form, which is attached to the Business Name Registration document. As you might assume, this form only requires your contact info in case the state needs to get in touch with you.
It’s important to note that you are not allowed to include any words that indicate other business entity types (such as “corporation” or “incorporated”), and you also can’t use any words tied to locations within the state (such as “city” or “village”).
Once you file your Business Name Registration form, the state will provide you with the rights to use your new business name for a period of five years. In many states, DBA names have no exclusivity whatsoever, and another business can actually use your DBA name if they want to, but that is not the case in Alaska.
Should You Hire a DBA Service?
Would you rather pay a reasonable fee to a business services company and have them register your DBA on your behalf? While you can certainly save some money by doing it yourself, it’s nice to have the peace of mind that your new trade name was registered by a professional who really knows what they’re doing.
Here are a few of our favorite services for DBA registrations, all offering the same low price point of $99:
- IncFile: IncFile is one of the best business service providers available, and their DBA service is top-notch. IncFile receives tremendous customer feedback, with thousands of positive reviews all over the web. They also have plenty of experience, as they’ve been around since 2004 and they’ve formed more than 250,000 businesses.
- LegalZoom: LegalZoom actually has two different packages for DBA services, as their $119 Premium package includes a trial of their Business Advisory Plan. LegalZoom is one of the biggest names in the industry, and they’ve served millions of customers. It’s hard to argue with a track record like that!
- Swyft Filings: Swyft Filings really lives up to their name, as they’re one of the fastest business services companies you’ll ever find. Not only do they have some of the industry’s quickest turnaround times, but they also say that you can fill out their entire DBA application in “as little as 10 minutes.”
To be honest, we often say that entrepreneurs shouldn’t bother with DBAs because they don’t provide any exclusivity for your business name. However, Alaska actually does a solid job in this regard compared to most states.
Alaska’s pledge to provide five years of name exclusivity for any trade name registered here makes the DBA an interesting proposition in this state, and we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this option to any of our readers.
If you’re looking for a new way to market your LLC in Alaska, a DBA isn’t a bad idea.