A DBA, or “doing business as,” is a fictitious business name that differs from your business or corporation name, partner names or your full legal name. File your fictitious business name statement in the county where you conduct most of your business. Each of California’s 58 counties maintains its own database of business names, but the filing process is the same across the state. The statement expires after five years and must be renewed if you want to keep using the name.
Complete the fictitious business name statement for your DBA filing using a form provided by your registrar-recorder/county clerk office. Conduct a DBA name search to make sure the name you choose is not already taken. Some counties provide online searchable databases of DBA names, while others provide public terminals for searches in the county clerk's office. Many county websites provide online registration and forms to complete the filing process.
Include in the fictitious business name statement the physical address and county name of your principal place of business. California requires limited liability corporations, or LLCs, to include the address used in the articles of incorporation filed when formed. Add to the statement the names and home addresses of all business owners or partners.
Affix the appropriate signature to the DBA statement. The person who signs the statement must be the business owner or, for other legal business structures, a corporate officer, general partner, manager or trustee.
File the fictitious business name statement and pay the required filing fee no more than 40 days after you begin to conduct business under the DBA name. The county in which you filed your DBA statement will mail you a certified copy of the statement.
Publish a copy of the DBA statement in a newspaper of general circulation within 30 days after filing the statement. The newspaper must circulate in the county where your principal place of business is located, unless there is no paper available there. In that case, a newspaper in an adjoining county is acceptable. If you aren't sure which newspaper to use, ask for a list of acceptable choices. The statement, which is published as a legal notice, must appear in the newspaper once a week for four consecutive weeks.
File an affidavit of publication, with a copy of the published statement attached, with the county clerk's office no more than 30 days after the final newspaper publication date. The newspaper staff prepares the affidavit and notarizes it for you. When you place the ad, ask whether they will mail the affidavit to the county clerk’s office or to your business.
- SBA: Register Your Fictitious or "Doing Business As" (DBA) Name
- California State Association of Counties: The Creation of Our 58 Counties
- FindLaw: CAL. BPC. CODE § 17900 : California Code - Section 17900
- FindLaw: CAL. BPC. CODE § 17913 : California Code - Section 17913
- Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk: Fictitious Business Names
- FindLaw: CAL. BPC. CODE § 17910: California Code - Section 17910
- Orange County Clerk-Recorder: Fictitious Business Name Statement Filing
- FindLaw: CAL. BPC. CODE § 17917: California Code - Section 17917
- FindLaw: CAL. BPC. CODE § 17910.5 : California Code - Section 17910.5
- Photo Credit Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images
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