California State law requires businesses to file a DBA, also known as a fictitious business name (FBN), if they plan to operate under a name different from the legal name under which the business was formed. Read on to find out how to file an FBN.
How to Create a DBA in California:
Step-by-step guide to registering a DBA, also known as a fictitious business name (FBN), in California.
Check Name Availability
Do a business name search.
To ensure that you will not be infringing on the rights of another business under federal, state, and common law, you should perform a thorough business name search, including checking registered trademarks.
Visit the California Secretary of State office website and perform a business search to find out whether any other business in the State is operating under your intended business name or a variation thereof.
Search your intended business name using popular search engines, including Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
Check whether the name is registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) using their Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS).
Perform a fictitious business name (FBN) search.
Each county in California maintains a database of existing FBNs. Contact or visit your County Clerk office to verify that your intended business name is not already registered as the FBN of another business.
Check the database of fictitious business names at you local County Clerk-Recorder's office.
Most counties in California offer an FBN search on their individual websites, allowing you to search for FBN availability online.
File a fictitious business name statement.
Check county specific requirements for filing an FBN.
In California, fictitious business names cannot be filed on a state level and must be registered with the county in which the principal place of business is located. Every county has different forms and requirements.
Contact your local county clerk's office or visit their website to find out about your county's specific requirements, filing process, and application forms.
Complete a fictitious business name statement.
Many counties allow you to file a fictitious business name statement in person, by mail, or online. Ensure that you have the correct forms required by your county and complete these with all relevant information and supporting documentation.
You may be required to supply additional documentation, such as a California driver's license or other government identification, a notarized affidavit of identity, or documentation issued by the Secretary of State indicating your business's current existence and good standing.
File the FBN statement.
The FBN statement must be filed with the clerk of the county in which the business is based (the principal place of business) within 40 days of the business commencing operations. If the business is not based in the State of California, the FBN statement must be filed with the Clerk of Sacramento County.
Submit the completed and signed FBN statement along with supporting documentation.
Pay the filing fee.
Filing fees vary between counties, ranging from $10 to $100.
Provide public notice.
Publish your business name.
Within 30 days of filing a fictitious business name statement, you have to publish your statement in a newspaper in the county in which the statement was filed.
Publish your FBN in local newspapers within 30 days of filing your FBN statement.
Check with your County Clerk for specific instructions, including permissible publications and frequency.
File an affidavit of publication.
Once the publication containing your FBN statement has run, you must file an affidavit showing said publication(s) with the county clerk.
Things to keep in mind:
- A fictitious business name statement must be filed within 40 days of the business commencing operations.
- A fictitious business name statement is valid for five years from the date it was filed.
- A fictitious business name also expires 40 days after any changes in the information or business structure as presented in the statement, except for changes in the residential address of an individual, general partner, or trustee.
- A fictitious business name statement should be refiled before it expires.
- When a business no longer operates under the fictitious name that was filed, a statement of abandonment must be filed.
Is a DBA required in California?
In California, a business is only required to file a fictitious business name if it intends to operate under a name that differs from its legal name, which is the name under which the business was registered with the State or, in the case of a sole proprietorship, the legal name of the business owner.
How long does it take to get a DBA in California?
In California, a DBA is referred to as a fictitious business name (FBN). Filing an FBN statement can take one to four weeks, in some cases a little longer.
What does it cost to set up a DBA in California?
The filing fee for registering a DBA in California varies by county and ranges from $10 to $100. You will also have to publish a notice of your DBA in a general circulation newspaper, the cost of which will depend on the advertising rates of the selected publication.
How do I look up a DBA in California?
In California, DBAs or fictitious business names are registered with the counties, which is also where these records are kept. To look up a DBA, visit the clerk-recorder's office in your county and search their database of fictitious business names. Some counties have made this available on their website, allowing you to search their database online.
Can an LLC have a DBA in California?
Yes, an LLC can file a DBA in California.