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What is a DBA?
DBA stands for 'Doing Business As' and is an official, public registration of a business name with either the state or local jurisdiction in Wisconsin. Wisconsin DBAs are sometimes called 'Fictitious Names', 'Assumed Names', or 'Trade Names'. Basically, a Wisconsin DBA is an operating name of a business that is different from its official legal name.

What is my Wisconsin business's legal name?
A business has only one official 'legal name', which is determined by its type of organization. For organizations like Limited Partnerships, LLCs, and Corporations which file with their Secretary of State upon creation, the legal name is the exact business name used in that filing. For Wisconsin Sole Proprietorships and Wisconsin General Partnerships, the legal name is the personal name(s) of the owner(s). For example, John Doe.

Do I need a DBA?
Without a registered DBA in Wisconsin, your business has to operate only under its one official legal name, which if you are a Sole Proprietor, is your personal name! Wisconsin state law requires that you file the proper paperwork to operate even under a variation of your legal business name, and even for a short amount of time. Two examples are below:

  • Example #1: Jane Doe begins doing independent consulting work, marketing herself as Can-Doe Consulting. Since Jane hasn't filed the paperwork to create an LLC, Corporation, etc., that makes her a Sole Proprietorship by default. So she must register Can-Doe Consulting as a DBA, since her legal Wisconsin business name as a Sole Proprietorship would be Jane Doe.
  • Example #2: The official legal name of an entrepreneur's Limited Liability Company is 'John Doe Enterprises, LLC'. He markets a home building business in the summer as 'JD Homes', and a snow-plowing business in the winter as 'JD Enterprises'. Those are both Wisconsin DBAs that would need to be registered, because neither matches exactly with his official legal business name.


A DBA is also referred to as the following:
  • DBA
  • Doing Business As
  • Fictitious Business Name
  • Trade Name
  • Trade Style


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Other Wisconsin Business Resources:

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File a DBA for:
  • Sole Proprietor / Individual
  • Partnership
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC)
  • Corporation
  • S-Corporation

A DBA is also referred to as the following:
  • DBA
  • Doing Business As
  • Fictitious Business Name
  • Trade Name
  • Trade Style



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