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DBA for Arkansas LLCOne 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 Arkansas 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 Arkansas-based plumbing business called “Fayetteville Plumbing,” and you want to expand beyond Fayetteville, you can register a DBA for “Little Rock Plumbing” and use that name in the Little Rock market.

The state of Arkansas gets a bit confusing with the legal language of its DBA laws. In general, it’s important to keep in mind that registering a DBA in this state does not provide you any exclusive rights to the use of this fictitious name. You must ensure that the name you wish to use is not already in use by any business registered in this state, but this law doesn’t go both ways.

What we mean by this is that the fictitious name you register with your DBA has no exclusivity. Take a look at how the state explains it in their own words: DBA registration does not give a business “an exclusive right to the use of the fictitious name.” Furthermore, “the registration of a fictitious name hereunder will not bar the use of the same name as the corporate name of any domestic corporation or any foreign corporation admitted to this state.”

In other words, you can’t use a name already claimed by another business in Arkansas, but if another business wants to use your DBA as their own, it’s fair game. For this reason, we do not typically recommend registering DBAs in Arkansas, but if you still want to, we’ll outline the process below.

How to Get a DBA for an Arkansas LLC

First off, we’ll note that Arkansas typically refers to DBAs as “fictitious names,” but for the purposes of this article, we’ll continue to use both terms interchangeably because most states use the term “DBA.”

The process for obtaining a DBA in Arkansas starts with making sure the name you want is actually available. You can do this with a simple search of the state’s business database by visiting the Secretary of State’s website. Once you’ve determined that the name is available, you can move on to the actual fictitious name application.

In Arkansas, you have the option of filing this form online or filling out a paper form. Either way, you’ll start by indicating that your business is an LLC. Then, you will tell them which fictitious name you want to register, and you will also describe what your business does. The next step is to inform the state of your LLC’s official business name and tell them when you first registered your business in the state of Arkansas.

You will then indicate whether your LLC is domestic or foreign to Arkansas, and include the business address of your LLC. After that, all that’s left is to provide your name, signature, and mailing address.

At this point, you can submit your form along with your $25 filing fee. Once the state processes your filing, they will send you a copy of the filed form, which you will then submit to the county clerk’s office in the same county as your registered office is located. The only exception is for Pulaski County, which does not require a copy of this document.

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.”

In Conclusion

The doing business as (DBA) name varies more from state to state than most other business filings. In some states, a DBA grants you exclusive rights to your new trade name, but in states like Arkansas, that simply isn’t the case. Due to this lack of exclusivity, we’re not fans of registering DBAs in this state.

Instead, it’s probably a better option to form an additional LLC if you want to be able to use multiple names for your business. This is certainly more of a hassle that registering a DBA, but at least you’ll have exclusive rights to your name.

If you’re looking for a new way to market your LLC in Arkansas, a DBA might not be the best idea.