Fictitious Business Name – Where do I Get a Fictitious Name Certificate?

Today, through this article, I will make you understand completely the concept of “Fictitious Firm Name” and “Fictitious Name Certificate” or “Doing Business As.”

What is a fictitious business name?

A fictitious business name or Trade name or “doing business as” (DBA) name is any name under which a company operates its business differs from its legal, registered name. For example, the name of the company and legal entity is Johnson Inc. In contrast, the fictitious business name can be Johnson Home Health Care, Johnson Home Health, Johnson Personal Care, etc.

Usually, a fictitious business name statement must be renewed every five years in the US. In addition, a fictitious business name statement must be filed with Registrar-Recorder or County Clerk’s Office.

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An entity is delineated as “any individual or any partnership, corporation, joint-stock company, association, business trust, syndicate, joint venture or other amalgamation or group of individuals, irrespective of whether it is formed or organized under the laws of Commonwealth or any other jurisdiction.” An appropriate business name or association (local or foreign) is outlined in its registration and organizational documentation filed in the state’s concerned department.

Any name different from your legal proper business entity name, and you are allowed formally by the county or state’s concerned department or state to use while conducting business. A fictitious business name is also referred to as DBA (Doing Business As). Additionally, a fictitious business name can be defined as.


“A legal document showing the operating name of a company, as opposed to the legal name of the company. In the case of a corporation, a fictitious business name is any name other than the corporate name stated in its articles of incorporation”.


Is that understandable? No…

Let me try to explain Fictitious Name with the help of an example! If you have decided to start your own business as a single business owner (a sole proprietorship) or a partnership, you need to have a name for your business.


Now, you will have the choice of selecting a proper name or DBA (doing business as) for your businesses. This is called a fictitious business name. That name must not be registered before and should be available. Suppose you wish to run your business under a name different from your own (for instance, Ms. Mary doing business as “Crunchy Saloon”). The state or county may require her to register her fictitious business name. In addition, some states and counties require fictitious business names or DBA (doing Business As) filings to be prepared (for consumers’ protection).


The main reason behind a Fictitious Business Name is that states are required to file fictitious business names because they are supposed to inform and update the public (consumers) about who owns that business or company. A fictitious business name filing places a business’s name and its owner’s identity on the public record.

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The concept of “Fictitious Firm Name,” also known as DBA (Doing Business As)Opens in a new tab., is misunderstood commonly. Still, it can be a respected and esteemed mode to launch a business unit and have more or fewer protections of your rights as a single business owner. However, it would help if you were alert that you know the restrictions and boundaries of doing business with a “Fictitious Firm Name,” also known as DBA, to safeguard your cogent intellectual property or other trademark rights.


To get registered your business with a “Fictitious Firm Name,” you are required to fil and filing offers the sole proprietorship owners (single owner of the company) the complete independence to use a business name that helps in promoting their goods or services, also make a discrete certified business entity. Yet, be warned that doing business with a fictitious name may not protect your business name from being used by other companies. Therefore, to have complete safety in this regard, you are required to pursue your business trademark protection from the pertinent authorities.


Consequently, the name under which a business functions, as opposed to its lawfully obligatory name, is deliberated as Fictitious Firm Name or DBA (doing business as).

You can call a business name a fictitious firm name when that business name is changed from its legal or registered name, and this is done for consumers’ protection. And such fictitious names will not include words like “Inc.” “incorporation” as long as this is a “corporation” registered with the secretary of the state.

You are required to be attentive before starting a business with a fictitious firm name because the procedures, rules, and regulations of filing may vary from one county or state to another.


How to get a Fictitious Business Name; Requirements

To launch a business under a Fictitious Business Name, you are required to fill and file the FBN forms and pay a prescribed filing fee; after that, you will receive an FBN certificate. Then, according to the state, you may be needed to file with the county clerk’s office, a state agency, or both. Therefore, don’t forget to validate all the related local central authorities for FBN filings in the states presently you are, or will be, or doing business in. Then ratify all the FBN filing necessities for your business.


What is a fictitious name registration?

To register a fictitious name, you need:

  • To register your business with a Fictitious Name, you must visit the county’s office to apply along with a prescribed registration fee to the county officer or clerk (if any).
  • You may need to submit a fictitious name ad for an assured time once a week for four weeks consecutively in an arbitrated newspaper county.
  • This ad must be initiated within 30 days after a fictitious business name application has been filed, according to Business & Professions Code 17917(a)
  • You may be charged a price ranging ($10 to $100) while filing a case of fictitious firm name and must have a business bank account and your bank possibly will ask for a fabricated name certificate, and the bank may help you how to get it.
  • In many states, a business firm may not be required to file a fictitious business name if it runs under a name other than its own. The incorporation filling process may follow a similar business as fictitious name filing for a sole proprietorship and a partnership business type.
  • Your residential location addresses need to be listed, and application may be filed through any of the following ways;
    • You are required to present (in-person) a completed Fictitious Business Name (FBN) statement, display valid credentials, and complete an Affidavit of Identity form.


    • You may submit through (mail) a fully completed Fictitious Business Name (FBN) application with a notarized Affidavit of Identity form.


    • Anyone other than you but on your behalf can submit an application for Fictitious Business Name (FBN) and must show valid identification and submit the completed, notarized Affidavit of Identity and Agent form.

Now let me answer the questions that might arise while starting a business as Fictitious Business Name and its registration process.

  • Legal Identity – You don’t need to consider FBN as a different legal entity because there is no difference between your and business assets. Registering an FBN may not cause your liability as an owner of the business.


  • Consumers’ Protection – To provide complete protection by the state to the consumers, FBN is meant for the people to know about the actual business owner to safeguard consumers’ safety from the fraudulent business owners, and they must not discharge from legal concerns when they operate their business operations under a different name.


  • Business Account – When a business is a distinct legal entity, personal funds and business funds must be managed unconnectedly. Subsequently, you need to have a separate bank account for the company run with an FBN (Fictitious Business Name). Whereas, in the case of a sole proprietorship or partnership without FBN, you don’t legally need to have a separate business account.


  • Advantages of FBN (Fictitious Name) – When you launch a business as FBN, you undoubtedly like to keep your expenses low and grow gradually, and filing for Fictitious Name registration sure will help you to achieve your business goals.


  • Business Recordkeeping – In the case of FBN (Fictitious Business Name), there is no need to have daily recordkeeping of transactions and auxiliary protocols those are compulsory in case of an LLC or corporation type of business, or the expenditures related to forming an LLC (Limited Liability Company) or corporation.


  • FBN or LLC (Limited Liability Company) is better – The main difference between the two is accountability protection, but LLC (limited liability Company) offers little liability protection. The personal assets of the business owners remain separate or detached fully from the business. Therefore, no additional tax-related advantages and benefits can be claimed in the case of FBN (Fictitious Business Name).


  • Doing business without an FBN – In some states, California, you don’t need to register an FBN (Fictitious Business Name) according to California law; any of your business names will not consider as FBN (Fictitious Business Name) since it includes your last name.


  • State taxes – You must submit your business returns to the state or county’s tax office since the IRS is not the only state entity that needs FBN firms to file tax returns annually. Filing for an FBN allows you to launch a business under another name without making a new firm.


  • USE an FBN (Fictitious Business Name). You may file to have an FBN (Fictitious Business Name) if you are willing to make business transactions under the company’s domain name, but your company name is not existing as a domain name.


  • Unemployment Insurance – Any business, either FBN (Fictitious Business Name) or LLC (limited liability company), will not affect your unemployment insurance claims.


  • Personal bank account and Business Checks – Checks received from business customers may be deposited into your bank account. Still, I suggest you have a separate business account because some banks ask to have a different business bank account. If not, then you may not be permitted to credit your business checks into your bank account.


  • ONE FBN name and two businesses – you may not be permitted by some states to use one single FBN (Fictitious Business Name) for two different businesses. Although, some businesses may get registered as solo FBN.


  • Unique Business Name – FBN (Fictitious Business Name) must be different from the names already in use in the state. If already in use, remarkably similar names must not be taken when two businesses are rivals in a similar marketplace.


  • Sole Proprietorship and FBN – You will be required to have your business’s legal name operative. If you are not keen to use FBN (Fictitious Business Name), you must get permission from local authorities in advance.


  • FBN Ownership – You may transfer ownership of FBN to another party for any reason, and in most cases, maybe a sale of your business.


  • FBN (Fictitious Business Number) – Some business lawyers and consultants recommend having EIN (Employer Identification Number. You must launch an SS-4 application to get this identification number from an internal revenue department.


  • Obtain a copy of FBN – You may visit, county’s state department in-person or via mail, email, or fax to obtain a certificate or a copy of FBN, and an online approach will be a stress-free option.


  • States and FBN – the different states like Ohio, Alaska, Arizona, Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Kansas, Hawaii, Maryland, Mississippi, New Mexico, Nebraska, Wyoming, and Wisconsin may require FBN (Fictitious Business Name).


  • Time – Typically, the filling is needed to be completed within a postulated time of roughly 1-2 months, once you started your business under FBN (Fictitious Business Name). The filing process usually takes one to four weeks, depending on the authority, with some exceptions.


For Example – A guide

Starting a Business with FBN (Fictitious Business Name) in California – Step-by-step

  1. Check the name availability of what you are intended to use.
  2. File a statement (application) of FBN (Fictitious Business Name) in the county’s clerk office
  3. Advertise your new business name once a week for four consecutive weeks
  4. Pay the prescribed fee.
  5. Follow-up your case


Your business name is a valued asset, and you may need to protect it. Using an FBN (Fictitious Business Name) can be a significant element of your business plan and strategy. If this is the case, then preparing an appropriate filing to get your FBN (Fictitious Business Name) and being assured that the registration does not expire will be crucial steps for your business. Now, you know the basic facts, procedures, and processes about FBN (Fictitious Business Names) and its filings, work with your business lawyer and compliance partner to ensure they’re done right. Don’t underrate the significance of acquiring your fictitious business name certificate. It would help if you apprehended what a fictitious business name is and how it can help your business. Your business name will be the underpinning upon which you are required to build your business brand; hence it’s somewhat to be controlled with vigilant consideration.




Daniel Smith

Daniel Smith

Daniel Smith is an experienced economist and financial analyst from Utah. He has been in finance for nearly two decades, having worked as a senior analyst for Wells Fargo Bank for 19 years. After leaving Wells Fargo Bank in 2014, Daniel began a career as a finance consultant, advising companies and individuals on economic policy, labor relations, and financial management. At, Daniel writes about personal finance topics, value estimation, budgeting strategies, retirement planning, and portfolio diversification. Read more on Daniel Smith's biography page. Contact Daniel:

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