Are you a California business owner who wants to be able to operate your company under an assumed name? If so, consider acquiring a doing business as (DBA) name.
How do you obtain a DBA name for your California company, and how are you allowed to use your new name? In this guide, we’ll walk through every detail of the DBA acquisition process in this state.
What is a California DBA?
For sole proprietorships and general partnerships, a DBA enables you to use a name other than the owner’s personal name. For limited liability companies and corporations, DBAs allow you to use multiple names to officially refer to your business activities.
There are many different reasons for California companies to acquire ‘doing business as’ names.
- For sole proprietorships and partnerships, they can make your company sound more professional than simply using your own name. You can also open a bank account using your DBA, which can not only help you keep your business and personal assets separate, but customers often have a higher comfort level writing out a check to a business name rather than to an individual’s personal name.
- For corporations and LLCs, DBAs are frequently used to give the company the option of using different names for separate product lines. Another common usage of a DBA is to distinguish satellite businesses from your main company. Restaurant owners love to do this, as for example it can help a fine-dining establishment open a fast-casual spin-off restaurant without affecting customers’ perceptions of the original location. Whether you want to create this separation for marketing or accounting purposes (or both), a doing business as name gives companies options that they wouldn’t otherwise have.
In short, a DBA in California allows businesses to communicate their image and express themselves in different ways without having to actually form a new business to do so.
How Do I File a California DBA?
In California, a DBA is also referred to as a “Fictitious Business Name” or FBN. In order to set up a DBA, you must check the availability of your name using the Name Availability Inquiry Letter, just as you would when forming your business.
This ensures that your desired business name is available, and hasn’t already been claimed by another business in the state.
Next, you must submit a notarized copy of the Fictitious Business Name Statement to your local county clerk or recorder’s office. Some fees and paperwork can vary by county, so it is best to check with your local office before filing. Finally, you need to publish notice of your DBA within 30 days of filing the paperwork. The notice must run once a week for at least 4 weeks in a local publication. You will also need to acquire a signed affidavit from the newspaper within 30 days of the last publication.
How Long Does a California DBA Last?
A California DBA lasts for 5 years from the date of receipt. If you want to continue using the same DBA beyond that time, you will need to submit a new statement before the expiry date. For more information on California DBA renewals, consult this website.
Should I Hire a Professional DBA Filing Service?
If you’d rather not fill out the paperwork and register for a DBA yourself, there are plenty of reputable companies offering a service. For a fee, these services will assemble the relevant paperwork and submit it to your state, and all you have to do is supply them with some basic information.
California’s procedure for registering a DBA is not as simple as some other states, mostly because it is processed at the local level, meaning that laws, forms, and fees can vary based on your location. The filing and publication process can take between 2-3 months and the fees generally fall between $25-$30, but hiring a DBA service can save you the hassle of filling out forms and requesting information from your county clerk or recorder’s office. So, if you already have more than enough on your to-do list, most service providers (Ex: LegalZoom) charge a fair rate to handle DBA applications and renewals.
The doing business as name, or DBA for short, is one of the most simple business filings for California entrepreneurs. The process to acquire one is quite straightforward, and you can begin using your new assumed name as soon as the state completes your filing.
We hope this article answered your questions about how to file a California; DBA!
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Does a DBA provide any legal protections?
A: No, registering a DBA does not legally protect you or your business. If you’re seeking personal asset protection, you might want to look into forming a corporation or a limited liability company rather than just acquiring a DBA name.
Q: Does a DBA need a registered agent?
A: A registered agent is not a legal requirement for sole proprietorships or general partnerships that acquire DBA names. However, limited liability companies and corporations do require a registered agent whether they have a DBA or not.
Q: Can someone else register a business using the same name as my DBA?
A: Filing a DBA does not give your business exclusive rights to your assumed name. If someone wants to use the same name, and they form an LLC or corporation with it, they are legally allowed to take your name for themselves.
Q: Does the state of California require publication of a DBA name?
A: Yes, California requires that all corporations and LLCs publish legal notification in a qualified newspaper within 30 days of the DBA registration. This publication must run once a week for at least 4 weeks and requires a signed affidavit from the newspaper.