The Journey

Getting a business bank account for a sole prop with a DBA

After applying for a DBA, I was confused whether or not I had actually received one, given the WI Register of Deeds sent back my filled out Registration of Firm Names form with a computer generated stamp on the top right corner. Surely that was just a receipt of payment, and something called a “Certificate of Assumed Name” was coming in the mail, right?

At least, that’s the idea I got based on interactions with “Bank A” (no reason to name names), my bank of over 10 years. Banker 1 from Bank A told me that I could only open a sole proprietor in my own name. I told him that I wanted a different name on the account, “Ogorek Data Sciences,” and that I was pursuing a Doing Business As (DBA) in order to do that. He seemed unsure but told me he could help me when “the paperwork” arrived. When the Registration of Firm Names form came back stamped, I sent Banker 1 a picture of the form. He responded that he absolutely needed the Certificate of Assumed Name to open the account.

So I waited, and watched the mailbox, and waited…

After a month of waiting, I went down to the Register of Deeds in person and asked what was going on. “We don’t give out certificates!” the woman behind (what I’m pretty sure was bulletproof) glass told me. “This is all you should need to open a bank account” and she gave be a printed web page to prove it. Not convinced that Banker 1 knew the laws of the land, I made an appointment with Banker 2 (still of Bank A), armed with newfound confidence in my form and a printed out government web page with the exact instructions that I had followed. These instructions were clear.

Unfortunately, Banker 2 didn’t know much more than Banker 1. Again, she wanted a Certificate of Assumed Name, and I told her that I had fulfilled the requirements for the DBA according to the Wisconsin Register of Deeds and showed her the printout. She still didn’t buy it and sent a photocopy of my form off to business documents review, which was supposed to take 24-48 hours.

Some 60 hours later, without a verdict, I went to “Bank B.” To Bank B’s credit, in an hour I had a business bank account, but a few things still bothered me. First, this third banker (“Banker 3”!) claimed that my Registration of Firm Names form was completely unnecessary, or at least he had been opening up accounts without them. He also told me that he didn’t think I could use an EIN for a sole prop (which I got a few weeks ago), but then he looked it up and realized I could use the EIN. “Hey, I learned something new!” Glad I could help.

To be fair to the first two bankers from Bank A, they were actually right about the account having to be opened in my name, but what they didn’t tell me was that I could still deposit checks written to the DBA name and the DBA name could appear on that account’s checks. If they did know this, then I suppose some blame lies with me for insisting on the account being opened in the DBA name. But come on, why else would I be so adamant about an account name?

And, to be fair to Banker 3, it turns out that the printed out web page – that the Wisconsin Register of Deeds gave me in person – was from March of 2013. Maybe registering the Sole Prop is no longer required to open a bank account. And at least Banker 3 knew enough to convince me that I did indeed need to open the account in my own name, but with a DBA name attached to the account. (Seeing him type “Ogorek Data Sciences” after the “DBA” field in the application form, which made me feel better.)

It doesn’t seem like it should have been so hard. But, I’ve got a business bank account set up with a DBA name (“Ogorek Data Sciences”) and using an EIN. Mission accomplished.