Registering a DBA in California may seem more complicated than it is in other states, since California uses the term FBN (fictitious business name) instead of DBA. But the process is fairly simple. Here’s what you need to know about DBAs in California:
What is a DBA?
DBA stands for “doing business as.” A DBA is not a legal entity, like an LLC, sole proprietorship or a corporation—it is an operating name that can be used by a business entity.
Why would I need a DBA?
There are several reasons why a business owner might want to adopt a DBA for their business. They include, but are not limited to:
- Protecting personal privacy for a sole proprietorship or partnership
- Operating a known franchise through a separate LLC or corporation
- Creating a branch of an existing company that serves a different purpose than the company
- Changing the name of a business without having to file an amendment with the state
Does a sole proprietorship need a DBA in California?
No, a DBA isn’t required for a sole proprietorship in California. However, according to CA Corp Code § 17900, a sole proprietorship or partnership without a DBA must include the surname of the individual (or surnames of each general partner) in its business name. So, if you have a sole proprietorship or partnership and don’t want your own name tacked onto your business, you’ll probably want a DBA.
How do I get a DBA in California?
In California, what’s known as a DBA is usually referred to as a FBN (“fictitious business name”). California issues FBNs at the county level, so you’ll have to visit the website of your county clerk’s office to register an FBN for your business. (Fees vary depending on the county.)
How do I link a DBA to my current business?
To register your DBA (aka FBN) you’ll need to submit a Fictitious Business Name Statement in the county where you operate your business. (As an example, here’s the Fictitious Business Name Statement for Sacramento County.) When you fill out the form, you’ll be required to include the individual name (if a sole proprietorship) or the business name (if an LLC or corporation) associated with the fictitious name.
What is California’s FBN publication requirement?
After registering a fictitious business name, California law requires requires business owners to publish a statement in the county newspaper in the location where the business is registered (see: CA Bus & Prof Code § 17924). The statement must be published no more than 30 days after the FBN is filed with the county, and continue once a week for four consecutive weeks. After publication, an affidavit of publication must be filed with the county clerk.
For more on DBAs—as well as information on obtaining DBAs in other states—visit How to Get a DBA Name for Your Business.