Filing DBA in California
Setting up a new business in California or anywhere in the US or the world can be quite a challenging affair as it involves several tiers of processes, documentation, and informed decision making. Every business requires a business plan and startup strategy and one of the areas that can be confusing is the need for filing a DBA in California. A DBA or ‘Doing Business As’ is merely an assumed name or a fictitious business name in California and is meant to inform the consumer or public of the real owners of a specific business. However, having a DBA is neither mandatory nor do all types of businesses require it although DBAs can be a good business strategy.
Doing Business As or DBA in California
This guide has been created specifically for entrepreneurs and business owners and its objective is to provide information on DBA in California, the need for a DBA, filing and managing a DBA.
California is one of the most favorable states amongst entrepreneurs and first time business owners for starting a new business thanks to its strong economy, good infrastructure, and easy access to local, national, and global markets. You can start a new business in this state by filing a DBA in California and then register your business and apply for licenses and permits to make it operational. However, there are several aspects that you need to consider prior to fictitious business names in California registration including when you would actually require a DBA or whether you need it at all.
What is DBA in California?
You have an idea and you want to make it operational by starting a business. One of the foremost requirements would be naming your business as the entire branding, marketing, and financial strategies will be carried forward using the business or legal name. DBA or ‘Doing Business As’ is a type of business name and is also known as fictitious business name in California, an assumed name, or even a trade name. So, if you are planning to conduct your business under a name other than your own name then filing a DBA in California is necessary.
For example: If an entrepreneur named Jason Hughe starts a business and the name of his business is Jason Hughe Landscaping Services then filing a DBA in California is not required. However, if the name of the business is “Hugh Landscaping Services” then he would be required to file a DBA online or offline as it is not his full name or a combination of his name and the products or services offered.
Once you file a DBA, the name becomes public record and consumers and other businesses would be aware of the chosen name.
When do you need a DBA in California?
Every new business or startup has a true name or a legal name and this name has to be registered in the state of formation, which is California in this case. The filing of DBA in California will be driven by the form of business as well as other needs of the business. It is hence important to identify the reasons that would require you to file a DBA online or offline. Some of the common reasons or when startups require DBA includes:
- Type of business: The most common and easiest form of business is a sole proprietorship firm. If you are planning to form a sole proprietorship or partnership firm then filing a DBA in California is one of the simplest and least expensive ways for using and registering a business name. A DBA will help you to create a separate professional identity for the business.
- Multiple businesses: If you are planning to operate multiple businesses then it can be quite a complex and expensive affair especially filing of documents pertaining to each business. A DBA or fictitious business name in California will help you in operating multiple businesses without having to form separate companies.
- Banking: If you are starting a new business then having a business banking account can be quite helpful. Filing a DBA in California is required by sole proprietorship or partnership firms prior to opening a bank account. There are many banks that may want to see the DBA name or assumed name certificate as a proof of registration.
- Different product of service: If your company wants to offer a product or a service that is different from the existing registered name then you will need to file a DBA online or offline in California. For instance, if your business is selling shoes but now you want to expand the business into sports equipment but as a separate entity then a separate assumed name or DBA will be required for the new sports equipment business.
Filing DBA in California
You can form a sole proprietorship or partnership in California or any form of business for that matter but if you have chosen a business name that is different from your own name then you will have to file a DBA. There is a process that you have to follow for registering the fictitious business name in California including conducting a DBA California search. Let us look at the important steps towards filing a DBA successfully in California.
Do name search
One of the first steps towards registration of a fictitious name or ‘doing business as’ name is conducting a DBA California search. Once you ideate and identify a name for your business, it is important to make sure it is not similar to any other business name in the California SOS records. Conducting a business name search in the records will ensure your fictitious business name in California is unique and will also help you to find out if your chosen name is available or not.
There are some laws pertaining to a trade name or ‘doing business as’ name and they are governed by 2011 California Code, Business and Professions Code, Division 7 – General Business Regulations [16000 – 18001], Chapter 5 – Fictitious Business Names. According to this code, you cannot have a name that ends with misleading business titles like “Inc” or “LLC”. When you conduct a DBA California search, you need to use a business name like “Jim’s Sports Equipment” and not “Jim’s Sports Equipment LLC”. If your chosen fictitious business name in California is available then the next step would be to register it.
File a Fictitious business name statement
The state of California requires businesses transacting in this state under any name other than the owners name to file a DBA pursuant to CA Bus & Prof Code § 17910 (through 2012 Leg Sess). We at IncParadise can help you to register your DBA in California and also provide information pertaining to various aspects of filing a DBA. However, it is important to note that after conducting a DBA California search, you will have to file the chosen name with the office of the county clerk and not the Secretary of State unlike in many other states. You have to file what is known as a “Fictitious business name (FBN) statement “. Some of the important aspects to consider when filing a fictitious business name in California are:
- Since it has to be filed at the county clerk’s office; you need to check with the county your business is operating from. The forms and fee may vary from one county to another.
- You can check with the clerk’s office or the county record office to determine the fee
- The Fictitious business name statement should contain information like your (business owners) name and address, your chosen DBA name or fictitious business name in California, business address, state business ID number, and type of business.
- The fictitious business name statement has to be notarized by partners, members, or an officer of the said company, or even by the owner himself if it is a sole proprietorship firm.
- One of the requirements for filing a DBA in California is that you will be required to submit the required documents or paperwork within 40 days of starting the new business. Once you have submitted the statement, it will expire after a period of 5 years from the filing date.
- Depending on the county where you are filing the fictitious business name (FBN) statement, you can submit the statement in person or by mail. In some counties you may be able to file DBA online. In San Diego County, the office of the County Clerk strongly recommends filing of the FBN in person. The filing fee is $42.00 for one DBA and one business owner on the statement. There will be an additional fee of $5 for each additional owner.
Publish a California fictitious business name statement
The final part of the process of filing a DBA in California is publishing a fictitious business name (FBN) statement. You will be required to publish this statement if:
- You are filing a DBA in California for the first time
- You have filed in the past but have made changes to the information provided the first time
- If your previous statement expired 40 days have passed beyond the expiration date
- If you are filing a Statement of Abandonment or a Withdrawal of Partnership
The following steps will help you to publish your fictitious business name California statement:
- Depending on the county of FBN filing, you will have to choose a legally adjudicated newspaper company. For example, if you file a DBA online in San Francisco County then the Bay Area Reporter or San Francisco Chronicle would be the newspapers you can publish in.
- Inform the chosen newspaper that you have recently filed a Fictitious Business Name (FBN) Statement and ensure you satisfy the requirements of the chosen publication.
- Provide the concerned publication with a copy of your FBN filing
- The first publication should be released within 30 calendar days from the date of filing a DBA in California. It is important to note that the FBN statement will automatically expire after the 30 day period. There are no extensions and you will have to file the FBN statement again with an applicable fee.
- You will have to ensure it is published once a week for four consecutive weeks
- Once it has been published 4 times, the newspaper company has to send you a “Proof of Publication” in the form of a signed affidavit indicating the dates of publishing.
- You will then be required to submit this “Proof of Publication” with the County Clerk’s Office within a period of 30 days from the date of the 4th publication.
Managing California DBA
A fictitious business name in California is required by different types of businesses and post filing a DBA in California you have to manage it according to the needs of the business. There are three options available concerning a DBA, which includes renewal post 5 years, changing the assumed name, and cancelling the DBA permanently. Let us take a look at each of these three options.
Renew California DBA
A fictitious business name in California once filed will expire after five years from the original filing date at the office of the County Clerk. At this point, you will have to apply for a renewal of a fictitious business name (FBN) statement and it has to be filed prior to the expiration date if you want to continue transacting business in the state under the same name and if there are no information changes since the filing of the original. The fee for filing a DBA in California or renewal will vary from one county to another.
An example: Initially, if your filing a DBA in California took place in Los Angeles County then your renewal will also take place in the same county. You can file DBA online for renewals by paying a fee of $26 along with a fee of $5 for each additional business owner or name.
Change California DBA
There are circumstances and scenarios where sometimes businesses want to change their existing name. If you have already filed a DBA and want to change it then you will have to start by conducting a DBA California search for availability of the new name. You will have to follow the same guidelines followed while choosing your first or initial fictitious business name in California. The following steps will help you through the process:
- The first step is to obtain the DBA name change form also known as the amendment to DBA name-registration form. The form is available at the office of the county clerk.
- Complete the filing a DBA in California amendment form and provide the new name along with the previous DBA name as well as the date it was registered
- Submit the amendment or DBA change form by mailing it, submitting in person or filing a DBA online if the option is available
- Submit it along with the fee as mentioned by the office of the county clerk
- Publish a notice in the local newspaper regarding the DBA name change
Cancel California DBA
Once your filing a DBA in California is submitted, you can cancel it if there is a need for such a step. The procedure for cancellation is different as you will be required to submit a statement of abandonment of the use of a fictitious business name in California. This statement will be executed in a similar manner as that of a fictitious business name (FBN) statement and has to be filed with the office of the County Clerk. Once filed, the statement of abandonment has to be published in a legally adjudicated newspaper in the county. You will have to ensure it is published once a week for four consecutive weeks. You will then have to submit an affidavit showing its publication with the respective county clerk office.
Still have any questions about Filing DBA?
The process for filing a DBA in California may be confusing owing to it being filed with the county clerk office and not the Secretary of State.
We at IncParadise also have experience with incorporation in California and can help you with the process. Moreover, We can provide you with additional services that will ensure your other business requirements are fulfilled like getting a tax id, S corporation status and California Certificate of Good Standing.