Registering Your Fictitious Business Name (D/B/A)

  • June 3, 2017
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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 process is known as registering your “Doing Business As” (DBA) name.

What is a “Doing Business As” (D/B/A) Name?

A fictitious name (or assumed name, trade name or DBA name) is a business name that is different from your personal name, the names of your partners or the officially registered name of your LLC or corporation.

It’s important to note that when you form a business, the legal name of the business defaults to the name of the person or entity that owns the business, unless you choose to rename it and register it as a DBA 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 .

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

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.

Do I Need a “Doing Business As” Name?

A DBA 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.
  • 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 DBA.

So a company, let’s say, “ABC LLC” (or any other entity) wanted to do business (d/b/a) as “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.

Below are three steps to obtain a Fictitious Name Registration, doing business as, (d/b/a):

1. Check the Fictitious Name Database to see if the name is available.

2.  Publish a Legal 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 §65.09, 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, 2017.

§  ABC LLC, a Florida Limited Liability Company.

I publish a notice similar to this in the Business Observer for my clients in the Tampa Bay area. It’s the lowest cost service that I was able to find. They will publish a notice similar to the one above for $25 but it could take up to three weeks for the notice to publish since they do not publish daily. You can use pretty much any newspaper circulation, if you need it quicker, consider using a newspaper that prints daily, like the Tampa Bay Times.

3. After your notice publishes, file an Application for Registration of Fictitious Name online with the Divison of Corporation and pay a $50 fee.

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, including your application for employer tax IDs, licenses and permits.

Can someone else use my DBA? 

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.

What happens if I do not register a fictitious name?

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.

Have questions? Need help registering your D/B/A in Florida? We offer 15-minute consultations for $40. Schedule a call now!

Kalpesh Patel is a Florida Business Attorney and Counselor at Law. He takes a personal approach to every matter and provides practical business-minded legal solutions. Have a question for Kalpesh? Reach out to us to schedule a free initial consultation.

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    This our small business law blog. We provide information about Florida business law, LLC's, C-Corporations, S-Corporations, contracts, and provide resources for small businesses.

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