If you want to start a business in California, you will need a name for your business. Most business owners want a creative business name that differentiates them from others or makes it easy to determine what products and/or services they sell. Selecting a business name often results in using a fictitious business name.
What Is a Fictitious Business Name?
A fictitious business name (FBN) is also known as a doing business as (DBA). It is a name used for conducting business that does not use the business owner’s name. For example, you want to open a food truck business in Los Angeles and will operate it as a sole proprietorship.
You could use your name as the business name, such as Sandra Lopez’s Food Truck. Since the business name includes the name of the owner, then an FBN is not always required. However, in this example, the business name is not very descriptive since it does not describe the type of food you intend to sell.
On the other hand, if you wanted to name your business Sandra’s Mexican Cantina, so it was more clear what you intended to sell, then you would need to file with the county clerk’s office an FBN. Since the business name does not give details about the owner of the business, the fictitious business name statement filed will provide those details instead.
Who Needs One in California?
Anyone that names a business that does not include their name or the names of the business owners needs to file for an FBN in California. Sole proprietors, partnerships, limited partnerships, LLCs, or corporations can all require an FBN to be filed with the clerk of the county where they want to do business.
Why Is an FBN Required in California?
If you want to get a business license, open business bank accounts, apply for a business loan, and so on, and you are not doing business using your name or the name of the business owners, then you need an FBN. Without one, you cannot enter into legal agreements with other businesses, such as vendors or suppliers. Nor are you allied to legally sign contracts, apply for small business loans, etc.
What Is Required to File for a Fictitious Business Name in California?
The first thing you will want to do is check with the California Secretary of State and conduct research for the business name you want to use. You need to verify that the name is not already being used somewhere in California.
If you discover a business is operating with the FBN you want to use, then you will need to choose a different business name. Otherwise, there could be legal implications you could face if the other business owner were to object to you using the same business name.
Once you verify your FBN is available, the next step is to fill out your business registration by completing various forms. You need to submit these, along with application fees in the principal place of business—i.e., the primary country where your business will operate.
After your application is approved, you may need to publish your FBN in newspapers of general circulation in your county. You should check with your local county clerk’s office to see if they have recommendations on what newspapers to use. At a minimum, you must publish this information for one month to establish your legal claim to the business name.
How Long Is a Fictitious Business Name Good For in California?
Your FBN will be valid for five years from the date of issue. However, if there are changes to the business during that time, like additional owners are added or removed or you change the business structure from a sole proprietorship to a limited liability company, then you must file these changes to your FBN when they occur.
Otherwise, if there are no changes, you will need to refile your FBN every five years to continue using your business name. If you do not file for renewals, then someone else could file an FBN and legally use your business name once your FBN expires.
Why Should I Get Help Filing for a Fictitious Business Name in California?
While you can file for an FBN on your own, it is recommended to get help. Various forms need to be completed, detailed research conducted, and other such tasks correctly completed to get your FBN.
Often, when people go it alone, they make mistakes, which must be corrected, and the forms must be re-filed. This can delay getting your FBN and opening your business. In the meantime, someone else could get approved for the FBN you want to use, requiring you to start the entire process all over.
Not to mention, getting help provides you with support from a business that is familiar with filing FBNs in California. They will help make the entire process of getting your FBN stress-free and simple.
For further information about when a fictitious business name is required and assistance filing your FBN in California, please feel free to contact FastFilings by filling out our online form today!