What Is a Fictitious Name Certificate?

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Every business has a name, but there is a difference between an operating name and a legal name. A fictitious name allows a company or individual to conduct business under the tax identification number of another legal entity. A fictitious name is also called a "doing business as" or "DBA" name. You can obtain a certificate authorizing this name.

Definition

  • A fictitious name certificate is a document that shows the legal name of the company and the name the company wishes to operate under.

Why Have One?

  • A sole proprietorship operating under the Social Security number of the owner may prefer to have a name appropriate to the product and services offered. A larger corporation may want to have different products represented under different names and not the legal name.

Cost

  • A fictitious business name costs between $10 to $100 depending on the state where the business is based.

Clearing the Name

  • It is important to get the name cleared before registering it to make sure no other businesses are using the name. Your state's Secretary of State website is able to do a name search.

Public Notice

  • When you file for a fictitious name certificate, you must post the notice in a local newspaper. This is a requirement in most states that allows other entities to file complaints about name competition or other matters.

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