Obtaining a DBA or Fictitious Name

Last updated: August 26, 2021
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How to Register a DBA or Fictitious Name in Florida

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Objective:

  • For a company or an individual to be allowed to conduct business under a name other than their legal name.

Entities:

  • LLC
  • LLP
  • Corporations
  • Non-Profits
  • Sole Proprietorships
  • General Partnerships

Additional Information:

Naming your business is an important branding exercise, but if you choose to name your business as anything other than your own personal name then you’ll need to register it with the Florida Department of State. This guide will help you determine whether you need a fictitious name registration and steps to file your paperwork.

Registration under the Fictitious Name Act is for public notice only and gives rise to no presumption of the registrant’s rights to own or use the name registered nor does it affect trademark, service mark, or corporate name rights previously acquired by others in the same or similar name. Registration under this section does not reserve a fictitious name against future use.

Answers and Procedures:

Do I Need to Obtain a Fictitious Name Registration?

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A DBA or Fictitious name is needed in the following scenarios:

  • Sole Proprietors or Partnerships – If you wish to start a business under anything other than your real name, you’ll need to register a DBA so that you can do business as another name.
    • For example, consider this scenario: John Smith sets up a painting business. Rather than operate under his own name, John instead chooses to name his business: “John Smith Painting”. This name is considered an assumed name and John will need to register it with the Florida Department of State.
  • Existing Corporations or LLCs – If your business is already set up and you want to do business under a name other than your existing corporation or LLC name, you will need to register a D/B/A.
    • So a company, let’s say, “ABC LLC” (or any other entity) wanted to do business as (D/B/A) “Best Alphabets.”  ABC LLC would want to file a Fictitious Name Registration with the State to obtain approval to use “Best Alphabets” when marketing their product or service.

Check to See If the Name Is Available

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First, you’ll need to research the fictitious name database to see if the Florida DBA that you want is available. You can research the Fictitious Name Database here: http://dos.sunbiz.org/ficinam.html.

Publish a Legal Notice

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Before you can register your name you need to publish a notice in a newspaper that circulates in the county that you want to conduct business in. Below is a notice for illustration purposes only:

Notice Under Fictitious Name Law Pursuant to Section § 865.09, Florida Statutes. NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that the undersigned, desiring to engage in business under the fictitious name of Best Alphabets located at 123 main street, in the County of Pinellas in the City of St. Petersburg, Florida 33701, intends to register the said name with the Division of Corporations of the Florida Department of State, Tallahassee, Florida.

§ Dated at St. Petersburg, Florida this 4th day of April, 2019.

§ ABC LLC, a Florida Limited Liability Company.

File Your Application

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After your notice is published you can file your application with the state of Florida online here or by mail using the PDF provided below.

Please note, even though the state accepts your application, it may not be valid if it does not comply with the Florida Fictitious Name Registration Act. Once you receive a confirmation that your filing is approved, you can start doing business under your fictitious name!

The legal name of your business is required on all government forms and applications. This includes your application for employer tax IDs, licenses and permits.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Q: Can someone else use my DBA

A: Registration under the Fictitious Name Act is for public notice only and gives rise to no presumption of the registrant’s rights to own or use the name registered nor does it affect trademark, service mark, or corporate name rights previously acquired by others in the same or similar name. Registration under this section does not reserve a fictitious name against future use.

Q: What happens if I do not register a fictitious name?

A: The penalty for Failure to Register or Maintain a Fictitious Name Registration: If you do business under a fictitious name and do not file with the Division, you may be subject to certain criminal misdemeanor penalties. You may also be prevented from maintaining a lawsuit, and you may be held liable for attorneys’ fees and costs if someone cannot find you as the owner of a fictitious name. All three may apply under some circumstances.

If you have further questions about fictitious names or registering a DBA in Florida, then don’t hesitate to contact us online or call us at (727) 279-5037.

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