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Are you looking to establish a business in California and need to get a DBA (Doing Business As) name for your venture? You’re in the right place! A DBA, also known as a Trade Name, Fictitious Name, or Assumed Name, allows you to conduct business under a name that’s different from your legal business name. This can be advantageous for branding, marketing, and overall business operations.
In California, if you’re willing to use a different name other than the legal name for your business, you must file the DBA (Doing Business As). The public (specifically your potential customers) knows your business by its registered legal name. Instead of using your formal business name, you may use the trade name or DBA in marketing and sales to reach a wider audience.
California, popularly known as The Golden State, has some regulations when it comes to filing your DBA name. However, the regulations can vary depending on the type of business structure you have. In this article, I will share the basic steps to get a DBA Name in California.
On this page, you’ll learn about the following:
What is DBA Name in California?
Whenever you form an LLC or any business structure, you must get a name for it. Every company has a legitimate name. For instance, a partnership or sole proprietorship might function under the legal name of the company’s owner or owners. The name specified in the Articles of Incorporation or Articles of Organization may be used by any business entity, including corporations, limited liability companies (LLCs), and others.
However, there are situations when you may decide against using your company’s registered legal name in California. This is due to a variety of factors. For instance, the legal name of your company can be unrelated to it or no longer accurately describe it. Or perhaps you want a new name without altering your documentation for incorporation or registration.
If you intend to run your business in California under a name other than your personal name or an existing corporate name, you must submit a DBA name with California state regardless of the type of business entity you have incorporated as (single proprietor, partnership, corporation, or LLC).
No restrictions exist on how many DBA names you can use to do business. However, each DBA name must be filed with the state where you conduct business. This is necessary because the general public has a legal right to know whether a specific individual or company is operating under a name other than their legal name.
In California, changing your business name is a risky factor. It can bring positive and negative effects on your business. Hence, before you file and change your legal business name, analyze all the risks and advantages.–LLCBuddy Editorial Team
How to Get a DBA in California
To get a DBA in California, you must first check if any other business is already using the name before filing a DBA in California. You can then submit the California business name reservation form after it has been confirmed that no other company is already using the chosen name. You can search the California Government Records Inquiry System and confirm that the name you chose is not already in use. However, getting a DBA is not mandatory in many states. If you open an LLC in California, you must check with California Secretary of State whether you need to file DBA or not.
Guideline for choosing a DBA name
You must choose a name to register, which is the crucial step. There are a few straightforward LLC name guidelines to follow (if you’re forming an LLC) while choosing a name in California.
- In California, fictional names cannot be the same or similar to one another. A DBA cannot deceive the public by appearing to be confusingly similar to any other business name.
- Unless the company has been incorporated as an LLC or corporation, a DBA name cannot contain a corporate indication, such as Corp or LLC, or any other words that imply an entity type. This will stop a lone proprietor from passing for a legitimate corporation.
- Any banking-related words without a letter from the California Banking Commissioner’s Office, or any insurance-related words without a letter from the California California Department of Insurance.
- Any words that could confuse your corporation with a government agency (FBI, Treasury, State Department, etc.).
- A professional designation in the name (i.e., engineering, attorney) without a copy of the license of one officer/member or a letter from the governing agency allowing the use of the name without licensing.
- Any words that indicate or imply that the corporation is engaged in a business that is not authorized by law to pursue.
How Can You Tell if a DBA Name in California is available?
Once you have selected a name that complies with the requirements mentioned above, there are a number of methods you can use to find out if the name is open for registration. One simple strategy is to look up other companies in California with the same name on Google.
It is a simple technique to clear out any already taken names, even though it may not guarantee that the name you want to register is accessible. As it is likely that you will require a website domain that matches your business name, you may also check to see whether the web domain for that name is accessible. For example, you can check California LLC name search guide to see how you can find the availability of your desired LLC name in California.
Before you may register your Trade Name in California, you must have used it for business purposes. Therefore, you must use a Trade Name as soon as possible if you want to register and protect it in California.
Register the California DBA Name
Once you have established that the name is available for registration, you must finish the file using the forms your county has provided. You must register your DBA name in the county where you intend to conduct business. In most California counties, the following fundamental information is needed-
- Name of the company, its phone number, city, state, and street address
- The organization type under which the business is incorporated
- List the partners’ names and addresses (if applicable)
- Describe the items, services, or business that will be delivered under the Fictitious Name in the registration form
- Use of the Fictitious Name in the marketplace
- Both the classification type and number
- Make a mark (pick Trade Name)
- Date and state of the first use of the trade name
- When the Trade Name first appeared in California
- Application’s name, title, signature, and date Email address
Submitting the California DBA Name Application
To file the California DBA Name, you must apply to the California Secretary of State. In California, you can file the DBA name in two methods, online and by mail. The cost of filing the Fictitious Name (DBA name) in California is $26 for filing and $5 for each additional business name..
- Online filing: Check the California SOS website for the forms or city/county sites for the same
- Offline filing: Check California Secretary of State website for the PDF Form
Using the California Trade Name
Three “specimens” demonstrating the Trade Name used must be submitted to California Secretary of State. The following are some instances of acceptable specimens:
- Business cards
- Labels, and
How to Renew a Trade Name in California
You can renew your DBA name after a stipulated time. In most states, the renewal of the DBA name follows the same process as filing a fresh DBA name. You need to get the DBA renewal form, fill it up with the correct information, and submit it to the state online or offline. The renew time for DBA name filing is five years in California.
How to Change a Trade Name
You can change your Trade Name (DBA or Fictitious Name) by applying to the California SOS. The process is similar. You can search for the name you want to have after changing the old Trade Name. If the name is available, make sure it follows other guidelines. You can reserve your DBA name for five years; after then, you can change or renew your DBA if needed through the California SOS.
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A DBA name in California is the best way to update your business name. Unlike the registered legal business name, you can have as many as DBA names. You can use your new assumed name as soon as the state has processed your filing, and getting one is a rather simple process. Whether you have an LLC or any other business structure, filing a DBA name is helpful for your business upgradation anytime.