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3 Things to Know Before Filing Your Request for a Fictitious Business Name Statement
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AnnaMarie Houlis
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Fictitious business names — here's everything you need to know about what they are and how to file one.

What does it mean to have a fictitious business name?

A fictitious business name is the operating name of the company, as opposed to the legal name of the company — also known as the dba (doing business as) for the business. It's any name that the company uses other than the name stated in its articles of incorporation.

"If you want to operate your business under a name other than your own (for instance, Carol Axelrod doing business as Darling Donut Shoppe), you may be required by the county, city or state to register your fictitious name," according to Entrepreneur. "Some states require dba or fictitious business name filings to be made for the protection of consumers conducting business with the entity... In most states, corporations don't have to file fictitious business names unless the corporations do business under names other than their own," according to Entrepreneur. "Incorporation documents have the same effect for corporate businesses as fictitious name filings do for sole proprietorships and partnerships."

Filing an in-person request

Filing an in-person request fora fictitious business name differs by state.

In some states, you simply have to go to the county offices and pay a registration fee to the county clerk who will provide you with a fictitious name certificate. But, in other states, you'll also have to place a fictitious name ad in a local newspaper. The cost will range from $10 to $100, depending on the state and your filing requirements.

Mail requests for fictitious business name statements

Filing a mail request for a fictitious business name statement also varies by state. Mail requests may only be fulfilled by some county offices. You will have to mail in your request and check (payable to the Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk) to the office in your county.

Filing restrictions

Check with your state and county about filing restrictions for fictitious business names, including names too closely related to existing names.

It's also important to know that no fictitious business name is allowed to include the words 'corporation,' 'Inc.,' 'Copr.' or 'incorporation — unless, that is, it's a Security of State-registered corporation.

Fictitious business name statements in California

Fictitious business name statements in California are necessary. Here's what you need to know about filing for a fictitious business name statement in the state of California.

How do I apply for a fictitious business name in California?

To apply for a fictitious business name statement in California, you can apply in person, by phone or by mail.

The first step, however, is to decide on a name. According to the California Secretary of State, business names in California cannot closely resemble business names that already exist or that mislead the public. Therefore, if there is already a business named “Bob's Carpets,” the name “Bob Carpets” is not likely to be accepted. And, the name “Bob's Carpets” would not be considered an acceptable name to sell outdoor gear (or anything other than carpets that can be deemed deceiving).

Once you have a name in your mind, you'll need to check your chosen name against the California Secretary of State's online database of registered business names. This is to see whether or not it is available.

Once you choose an available name, which may take some time, you can contact your local county clerk's office and request a form for aFictitious Name Statement form. The county may give you the form online so that you can print it out at home and fill it in to be dropped off in person or mailed back, or you may have to physically visit the county clerk's office in your area.

Do I need to file a fictitious business name in California?

You may need a fictitious business name in California.

That said, according to Find Law, "under California laws, there is no need for a business owner to register a DBA or a fictitious business name so long as the business' name includes your last name... because, under California law, a business name is not a fictitious name if it includes your last name."

How much does it cost to file a fictitious business name in California?

The cost to file a fictitious business name in California includes various factors, and it also varies by county. That said, generally, the costs may look like this:

  • The first-time filing fee for one business name and one registrant costs around $26.
  • Meanwhile, a renewal filing fee for one business name and one registrant also costs around $26.
  • Any additional fee for filing for each additional business name and/or each additional registrant in excess of one costs around $5.
  • The search fee also costs around $5 per name.
  • And the certified copy of FBN Search (if name is found) costs around $2 per document.

Registrar-recorder and county clerk branch office locations in L.A.

Here is a list of the registrar-recorder and county clerk branch office locations in L.A.:

Norwalk

(Main Office)

12400 Imperial Hwy.

Norwalk, CA 90650

Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

3rd Thursday of the month:

8 a.m. - 7 p.m.


Lancaster

44509 16th St. West, Suite 101

Lancaster, CA 93534

Monday - Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

LAX / Courthouse

11701 S. La Cienega Blvd.

6th Floor

Los Angeles, CA 90045

Monday - Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Van Nuys

14340 W. Sylvan St.

Van Nuys, CA 91401.

Monday - Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Florence / Firestone

7807 S. Compton Ave.

Room 102

Los Angeles, CA 90001

Monday - Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

East Los Angeles

4716 E. Cesar Chavez Blvd.,
Building B

Los Angeles, CA 90022

Monday - Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Beverly Hills

9355 Burton Way, 3rd Floor

Beverly Hills, CA 90210

Monday - Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

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AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.

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