In many jurisdictions, any "trading as", DBA ("doing business as") or similar "ficitonal" or "pseudonymous" names of a company or other legal entity have to be registered.

The assumption e.g. on Wikipedia would seem to be that the DBA name "differs from the registered, legal name of the business" (seems common sense).

Are there any prominent counter-examples that suggest that this assumption ("DBA / "trading as" names always different than legal names") doesn't hold for 100% of entities in 100% of jurisdictions?

The question is, to put it more simply, "Are there any examples of 'X doing business as X' or any examples of rules that disallow 'X trading as X' explicitly?"

As in the reference and the first paragraph, the question is about duly registered "trading as" names and not any colloquialisms.


In Houston, Texas, do you need a DBA if you only conduct business in the LLC's name?

  • Your assumption that DBA names have to be registered does not hold everywhere, so the question isn't really answerable. Commented May 6, 2018 at 14:39
  • The reason that you want to know also matters in almost all legal questions. Why would anyone care if someone registered a DBA exactly the same as the true legal name? If it has no consequences, it would never be definitely determined by a court or other official body.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented May 7, 2018 at 1:26
  • Hi @TimLymington - as it says above "In many jurisdictions, any "trading as", DBA ("doing business as") or similar "ficitonal" or "pseudonymous" names of a company or other legal entity have to be registered." Many = all?
    – Michael
    Commented May 7, 2018 at 12:12
  • Hi @ohwilleke - yes, this question is indeed out to find counter-examples to an apparently obvious assumption. The question is exactly "does anyone care" - since it is famously impossible to prove a negative like "no-one cares".
    – Michael
    Commented May 7, 2018 at 12:14
  • 2
    @Michael In the law, if you ask a question for a different purpose (for example, tax purposes v. liability purposes), the same question will often produce a different result or shed light on what definitions make sense. Law isn't like science. Questions aren't asked in a vacuum.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented May 7, 2018 at 16:08

3 Answers 3


Almost by definition, a trade name under which someone does business is not their real name, because otherwise one would just be using their own name and not a trade name.

There are some banks that informally call any business account of a sole proprietor as "DBA account" even if the account is simply in the name of the sole proprietor, but this is a colloquial and inexact usage. For example, I am a sole proprietor and have a business account in the name "Andrew Oh-Willeke, Esq." which bankers sometimes call, somewhat inaccurately, a "DBA account" when it is really (and officially under the bank's contracts) a "business account" of a sole proprietor. They are informally called "DBA accounts" because most sole proprietors, unlike me, who have business accounts operate under a trade name even if they don't have a formal entity.

Any other counter-examples, like this one, would simply be examples of sloppy use of language in an informal sense, rather than an official proper usage of the term.

Some jurisdictions require all businesses to have registered names, and in those cases, I suspect that sometime people informally refer to the registered name of the business of a sole proprietor who does business in their true name as the DBA of that business even though it would not be technically correct to do so.

It might be easier to provide a better answer if you explained any reason why you might think that the answer would be different, or that a different answer might matter in some context, or in a particular jurisdiction.

  • Agreed, but the question was simply "Are there any examples of 'X doing business as X' or any examples of rules that disallow 'X trading as X' explicitly?"
    – Michael
    Commented Mar 6, 2018 at 15:29
  • @Michael The ambiguity in the question is whether this is actually the official technical vernacular or if the question extents to informal colloquial uses in some sectors. I have family members who call cats "congas" (for obscure and ideosyncratic personal reasons), but that would not normally be considered a "correct" usage.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Mar 7, 2018 at 5:04
  • I don't see any ambiguity in the question - in the first line it gives the context as official registration which is clearly not the same as calling a spade a flyswatter :-) There's a link too. I updated the question anyhow. Edit: I see how a cursory read could give the impression "this" is about the very concept of DBAs; edited again to avoid all possible doubt.
    – Michael
    Commented Mar 7, 2018 at 12:34
  • I'm not interested in random informal jargon, but concrete rules, e.g.: law.stackexchange.com/questions/22632/…
    – Michael
    Commented May 25, 2018 at 11:01
  • The linked question is a good example of how context can make an answer much more clear. Lots of legal questions can only be answered meaningfully and accurately in the kind of context that the linked question provides.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented May 25, 2018 at 19:21

The only mention in your link of registration of trading names, anywhere in the world, refers to "businesses trading under fictitious names". Since a business trading under its own name does not fall into that category, apparently you cannot register your own name as a trading name. (I still fail to see why anybody would ever want to.)


Why would anyone put a company forward as "Acme Widgets, dba Acme Widgets"? It's like saying "John Steinbeck, whose pen name is John Steinbeck."

The point of having company X register the fact that it's trading under the name Y is to make it a part of the public record, in part to avoid underhanded dealings. But company X already registered its name X in the first place, when it was formed. There's no need to register the same name a second time.

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