What is a Fictitious Name or DBA?
A Fictitious Business Name (FBN) or Doing Business As (DBA) is a business’s alternate name for branding purposes. DBAs are associated with various business structures, including corporations, LLCs, sole proprietorships, and partnerships
The government mandates the registration of fictitious business names. They do this to prevent businesses from evading legal actions by concealing their true names. While corporations and LLCs register under their actual names at the state level, they register fictitious business names at the county or municipal level. Sole proprietorships often use fictitious names when operating under a name other than the owner. Also, when managing multiple businesses under a single registered entity.
- John Smith operates a sole proprietorship dental business as “Smith’s Dentistry.”
- DBA: Smith’s Dentistry
- Legal name: John Smith
- ABC, Inc. owns a restaurant with multiple establishments: “Peggy’s Famous Foods” and “Joe’s Pancakes.”
- DBA: Peggy’s Famous Foods, Joe’s Pancakes
- Legal name: ABC, Inc.
- Jane’s Jewelry, LLC wants to introduce new fashion services under its existing LLC. Jane can file new DBAs under her existing entity.
- DBA: Jane’s Jewelry, Jane’s Fashion Boutique
- Legal name: Jane’s Jewelry, LLC
Importance of Filing an FBN Statement
A Fictitious Business Name (FBN) Statement is a public record that discloses the identities of entities operating under the FBN. It is mandatory in certain states and localities. Filing an FBN Statement is often required in these scenarios:
- Sole Proprietorship: When a sole proprietorship operates using a name that doesn’t contain the owner’s last name.
- Partnership or Association: When a company, organization, or partnership uses a name that doesn’t include the last name of each general partner or implies additional owners.
- Limited Partnership, Corporation, or LLC: When a company, limited partnership, or LLC uses a name not listed in the articles of incorporation or organization submitted to the state.
Finding a Business’s DBA
The process and location for filing an FBN Statement may vary based on the business’s jurisdiction. Generally, companies submit FBN Statements to the county clerk’s office or the county recorder’s office where it operates. However, requirements differ by location. To locate where an FBN Statement is registered, visit the county government’s official website, often the county clerk’s or business registration office. You will want to search for “filing a fictitious business name statement.”
- State Level: Many state Secretary of State (SOS) offices provide online databases to verify businesses operating under a DBA.
- Local Level: County or city clerk’s offices and local court clerk’s offices may offer DBA information not readily accessible at the state level.
You can discover whether a business uses a DBA by consulting these resources. You can also access the relevant information for legal proceedings or general inquiries. Understanding a business’s DBA and legal name is vital when engaging in legal matters or seeking information about a particular company. Stay informed and utilize the available resources to ensure accurate and up-to-date information.