Q: If my LLC name is already taken in Florida, can I use a DBA name instead?
Thank you to one of our customers doing business in Florida for asking about DBAs! When filing your Application for Authorization to Transact Business in Florida, you can simply provide an alternate name if your LLC name is already taken—without getting a formal DBA. However, registering a DBA (doing business as) name can be useful for an LLC for a number of reasons, from branding to business expansion. Here’s what you need to know about DBA names, and how to get one in Florida:
What is a DBA name in Florida?
In Florida, a DBA Name is called a “fictitious name.” (Other states may refer to it as an “assumed name” or “trade name.”) A fictitious name must be registered with the Florida Department of State, Division of Corporations before a business owner may begin using it. It’s important to note that registering a fictitious name does not create a new business entity. Rather, a fictitious name is like a pseudonym for an existing business—it allows a business entity to operate with a name other than its legal name.
Why would I need a DBA name for my Florida LLC?
Common reasons for registering a DBA name include:
- Privacy – for sole proprietors who officially file paperwork for their business under their own personal names, a DBA name can give their business a brand
- Rebranding – in some cases, business owners may want to operate their business under a new name without opening an entirely new LLC
- Business expansion – some companies use DBA names to differentiate certain aspects of their business (for example: in-store purchases vs. online sales)
Can I use a DBA name for my Florida Foreign LLC?
It depends. In general, a Florida Foreign LLC may use a DBA name, just like any regular Florida LLC might. However, you’ll have to check Florida’s Fictitious Name List to make sure your desired name is available—and NOT too similar to an existing fictitious name.
What makes a fictitious name too similar to an existing fictitious name in Florida?
Florida LLC names must follow specific guidelines (see: FL Stat § 605.0112), including being “distinguishable” in the records from other business names filed with the state. What makes something “distinguishable” is, of course, open to interpretation. Though the state does provide some specific examples of what’s NOT considered distinguishable:
- Adding a suffix
- Including a definite or indefinite article
- Using the word “and” in place of “&” (or vice versa)
- Changing a word to its singular, plural, or possessive form
- Adding/removing a punctuation mark or symbol
Ultimately, the Florida Division of Corporations will decide whether or not a proposed fictitious name is distinguishable enough to be used.
Do I need a fictitious business name in Florida?
No. Business entities are not required to register a fictitious name in Florida, and neither are sole proprietors.
How do I get a DBA name for my Florida LLC?
To get a DBA name for your Florida LLC, you’ll have to submit an Application for Registration of Fictitious Name to the Florida Department of State. Before you do, however, it’s a good idea to check the state’s Fictitious Name Records to make sure you desired name isn’t already taken. You’ll also need to advertise your fictitious name in a local newspaper.
What is Florida’s publication requirement for fictitious names?
After you determine your desired fictitious name is available for use, you’ll need to advertise that name (at least once) in a local newspaper. That newspaper must be located in the county where your business is registered, and must publish at least once a week. (See Florida Statutes, Chapter 50.) You’ll confirm publication of your fictitious name by acknowledging “Section 3” of the Florida Application for Registration of Fictitious Name.
How much does it cost to register a fictitious name in Florida?
There is a processing fee of $50. (A Certificate of Status will cost an extra $10, and/or a Certified Copy is another $30.)
Where should I send my Florida fictitious name application?
You can submit your application for a fictitious name in Florida either online or by regular mail.
Fictitious Name Registration
PO Box 6327
Tallahassee, FL 32314-1300