How to file a California DBA
By Bazal Razzaq
Updated: October 27, 2023
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If you want to register a California DBA to establish your business branding then, you have come to the right place. We have compiled the steps into a guide to make the registration easy or you can seek advice from a trusted Doing Business As advisor.
Register a California DBA
Registering a fictitious name for a business is called a DBA (Doing Business As) name.
#1 Start with a California DBA Name Search
The DBA name in California should be unique and must fulfill all the business name requirements.
Before you register, search for county records to ensure the name is not already taken. You must also ensure the California fictitious business name doesn’t include the following-
- Business entity suffixes such as an LLC, corporation, Incorporated, etc.
- Restricted Words like Bank, Attorney, and University call for additional paperwork and a licensed person, say a doctor or a lawyer, to be part of your business.
You can read California’s Code of Regulations to understand the naming rules in California.
We suggest you check if your name is available as a web domain (URL). You may not wish to start a business today but you can prevent others from acquiring it.
If you haven’t thought of a DBA name yet then use a free business name generator. Also, you can create a logo by using a free logo generator.
#2 Use Your California Fictitious Business Name
You must file the California DBA with the county where the business is registered. If the place of business is outside the state of California, you should file with the Sacramento County Clerk. The Nonprofits are not supposed to file a Fictitious Business Name Statement.
Filing a DBA With the County Clerk-
Since DBA regulations are looked after by the state of California, it means the steps to get a DBA are similar across all counties. We have laid down a step by step guide to get a Los Angeles County fictitious business name. If you want to file with a different county then, contact the correct county clerk for instructions.
Following are the links to some populated counties:
You can also visit the California Department of Public Health’s website for contact information.
How to File a Los Angeles County DBA
You can file the fictitious business name online on the LA County County Clerk’s fictitious name portal or get the form by calling 800) 201-8999 or obtain it in person at the County Clerk’s office.
If the applicant is applying in person, they do not need to have the statements notarized. If they apply through mail then a Notarized Affidavit of Identity form should be included. The form can be obtained in person or by calling (800) 201-8999. The forms are available online at this link.
Cost of Filing:
$26 First-Time Filing Fee for one Business/one Registrant
$5 for Each Additional Business Name/Re
See the forms for the exact address.
See the forms for the exact address.
Manage The LA County DBA
- General Questions-
Contact (800) 201-8999 for all general questions related to LA County fictitious business names.
- LA County DBA Renewal-
The Los Angeles County DBA must be renewed every 5 years. Renewal forms are available at the LA County website and the fee is $26. You may require a notarization form based on how you deliver the form to LA County.
- Change LA County DBA-
The changes to LA County Doing Business Name can be made by visiting the Fictitious Business Name Amendment page on the LA County website. You may need a notarization form based on how you deliver the form to LA.
- Withdrawal of LA County DBA-
#3 Registration of Your California DBA
Once 30 days have passed after registering your fictitious business name the California state wants you to publish a “fictitious business name statement” in a newspaper in the county where you run your business.
All the necessary information related to Publication requirements is mentioned on the California Legislative website. The basic steps involve-
- The newspaper should be a general circulation publication which is distributed in the county where you register the fictitious business name. The LA County list can be found on the LA County website.
- You can contact the newspaper of your choice that is distributed in your county and ask them to publish a “fictitious business name statement” once every four weeks.
- If you have to refile your fictitious business name then publish the statement again.
- Last of all, you should file an affidavit proving publication within the next 30 days of the completion of publication. To complete it, you can follow the steps laid down on the LA County publication info page.
All the questions related to the publication requirements must be directed to the county clerk’s office where you registered your fictitious business name. The full list of County contact information is given on the California Department of Public Health’s website.
After Filing California DBA
A California DBA filing marks the start of your business journey, but there are a few more steps that should be paid attention.
- Create a Business Website –
Every business needs a website and builders like GoDaddy and Wix have made the job quite easy.
- Categorize the Business Finances –
You should separate your personal and business finances to protect your personal assets. You can do so by opening a business bank account and getting a business credit card.
- Protect Your Business –
Just as a Limited Liability Company protects your personal assets in case of a lawsuit, you can protect the business by acquiring Insurance. You can start with general liability insurance as a base coverage.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
You can have several DBAs as long as you can afford to create and track. It comes up with incremental expenses and paperwork implying more is not always better.
Doing Business As Name doesn’t require a separate EIN as it isn’t a business entity. The business entity under which the DBA is would have an EIN if it was required.
An LLC is a business entity while the DBA is merely the nickname of it. The Sole proprietorships get confused with DBAs but they aren’t the same. The sole proprietorship can become an LLC if it wants to as it is a business entity.
A California DBA can have INC. in the name only if the Doing Business as is attached to the corporation.
Some states restrict the DBAs that are too similar to the existing ones from getting used. You can trademark a DBA to provide stronger protection across state lines.