Have you ever met someone who goes by both a nickname and their actual name? Just think of Dwayne Johnson/The Rock, for example. The nickname adds brand power and a unique factor that a regular name just can’t muster.  Likewise, if you run a profit-oriented business or trade within California, you may want to file for a California DBA or trade name.

There are many reasons you as a business owner may choose to use a DBA. Perhaps you have a business name, but it isn’t getting the attention you crave. Maybe you want a designated name for a side venture connected to your business. Whatever the reason, a DBA is a quick and easy way for sole proprietors or business partners to snag a nickname.

Since there are differences in how DBAs work in the USA, you must know how to go about California’s DBA. Read on to find out all you need to know about DBA registration!

What You Need to Know About California DBAs

When you want to register a DBA in California, you will likely come across the term “FBN.” An FBN is an acronym for a Fictitious Business Name. DBA/FBN is a name that enables you to work within California (if it is a California given DBA) under a legal pseudonym rather than the legal business name on your business name statement. Apart from being called the fictitious business name, the DBA name is also the assumed name.

Is a California DBA the Same as an LLC?

No, you don’t get an LLC when you get a DBA. DBAs aren’t separate, stand-alone legal entities. DBAs also don’t give asset or liability protection to “informal businesses.”

If you’re starting a business from scratch, you may want to create a limited liability company (LLC) or another business structure before proceeding with a DBA. This gives you much stronger protection from legal issues and can solidify your tax status as a business, among other advantages. For more info on what LLC is and what it does, check here.

A DBA simply helps existing partnerships and sole proprietorships develop new business names. For instance, instead of Johnson’s Inc., you could register for the additional business name of Quick Accounting with Johnson.

On What Grounds Can You Get a DBA? 

Below are the conditions that would require you to file an FBN at the County clerk’s office or registrar-recorder in the county you have your business in.

  • If a partnership uses a name that’s not the partners’ last name.
  • If a sole proprietorship uses a name that’s not the owner’s name.
  • If a  limited liability company, limited partnership, or corporation does business under a name that’s not the official business name.

Filing/registering your FBN connects your business entity to the trade name you had chosen. Also, you will have to publicly release, according to the California law,  the FBN in the local paper within thirty days of registering the DBA.

How to File for a DBA in California

California DBA

If you meet any of the above requirements, the next step is to file for your DBA or FBN connected with your business license. Since California is unique in its process of getting a DBA or FBN, then you have to do it the Californian way. Below is how you can file for your DBA in California.

Choose a Name and Confirm Its Availability

Don’t order your new business cards just yet! Before filing for an FBN/DBA, you have to know if the name you want for your business is available. Hence, you decide on a name and go through the list of existing businesses in California via the Secretary of State’s website to see if someone already has it. Keep in mind that the name you choose has to follow California’s business name guidelines.

How can you access the California business name search system? You can do your search on the “Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County clerk.” Here are some tips that can help as you navigate this system to explore your options for fictitious names.

After you have searched and the name you want isn’t yet a business name, you can pick it as yours. However, if it is already a business name, you would have to develop another. You can use business name websites to help you brainstorm if needed.

Get the Chosen Name Registered

After you have selected your FBN/DBA name, the next step is to register it. In California, you should complete your DBA registration wherever the main part of your business is situated. For example, if you started your business in Sacramento, you have to register your DBA with the county office of the Sacramento County Clerk.

If the formal business structure is outside the state—for example, if you started your business elsewhere and then moved to CA—your business is considered a foreign entity type. As such, you have to fill out out-of-state business DBA paperwork.

The process of registering your FBN is handled by state administrators, which means it is similar across counties. However, specific registration and filing fees might vary from county to county.

How to Put Out a California DBA Statement

California DBA

After registering, you have to put out a DBA statement. In California, you have to publish your FBN (fictitious business name) statement on a news website or local newspaper within thirty days of filing for the DBA. Again, you’ll need to do this in the county where your business address is located.

The process isn’t new to newspaper companies, so they know what to do. You won’t have to go through any trouble to get it done. You can read up on this part of the process a bit more on the CA.gov website.

How Much Does California DBA Cost?

As a general rule, DBA filing fees are pretty cheap. They cost between $10 to $100. However, the filing fee has a propensity to change; hence, you have to check with your country clerk to stay updated on any new information.

More so, the fees depend on the county your business is in. For instance, in LA county, it costs $5 to check your business name on their database and $26 to file an application. Every renewal after registration costs $26, and you will need to renew every five years.

The renewal process is essential. An FBN/DBA is only yours for five years. Since you cannot hold an FBN greater than five years in California, the easiest way to avoid any issues and keep the name is to ensure you renew your FBN or DBA every five years. You can normally take care of this using online services, although filing in person may also be possible in your area.

To find out the registration process price in your area, you can send your inquiries to the County Clerk or Registrar-Recorder’s office in the county where your business is located.

Do You Need a Professional DBA Service to File a California DBA?

California DBA

Sure, you can go about your DBA filing either by yourself or with the help of a law firm. Some people choose this route because, although the process is straightforward, it is easy to miss one or two steps that might ruin all of the hard work for you. Furthermore, a business lawyer is aware of every change that arises in the process of getting a DBA or FBN, which is a luxury you might not have.

Although many firms assist with this, however, they come with hefty prices. Fictitious business name statements are simple enough where most common situations are navigable with a more cost-effective solution.

How A People’s Choice Can Help You with your California DBA

Above is a thorough process of how you can register your DBA (doing business as) or Fictitious Business Name in California. Getting a California DBA in your county record can be an easy process when done right. If you need help with your DBA search, renewal forms, or other related issues, A People’s Choice has got your back.

A People’s Choice can help you prepare the documents you need to file for your DBA, your LLC paperwork, and all your other business activities. All you have to do is visit our site. You can leave the bulk of the paperwork to a legal document preparation service you know can help you handle your DBA application. Watch your business endeavors thrive with our help—reach out today!