California state law requires every business owner using a fictitious name to file a fictitious business name statement with the clerk of the county where the business is principally located. A fictitious business name is also commonly known as a DBA, short for "doing business as." In Los Angeles County, a fictitious business name statement for a DBA is filed with the office of the Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk located in Norwalk, California.
DBA Name Basics
Being a sole proprietor means you operate a for-profit business without forming a business entity, such as a limited liability company or corporation. If you use your surname in the business name, you do not have to file for a DBA. However, if the business does not include your surname or suggests that there may be additional owners, California Business and Professions Code 17910 requires that you file a fictitious business name statement within 40 days from the date you start operating your business. Section 17900(c) of the code gives examples of DBA names that suggest other owners, such as "Company," "& Associates," and "Brothers."
Los Angeles County Filing Procedure
Business and Professions Code Section 17924(a) requires the county clerk to provide a form for a fictitious business name statement without charge, which in Los Angeles County can be downloaded from the website of the Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk. The information needed to complete the form is your DBA and its principal address; your name and residence address; your mailing address; and a check mark where indicated to indicate that you are filing as an individual. The form must be signed and dated. Filing can be done in person at the main office in Norwalk, California, or in a district office; however, filings by mail are processed only at the main office. As of January 2012, the filing fee for a sole proprietorship DBA is $26.
Your fictitious business name statement must be published in a newspaper of general circulation in Los Angeles County within 30 days after filing it with the county clerk. The website of the Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk provides a list of newspapers in Los Angeles County that satisfy the general circulation requirement. The publication must occur once a week for four successive weeks.
Miscellaneous DBA Information
A fictitious business name statement for a DBA expires five years from the date it was filed with the county clerk's office. A renewal statement must be filed before expiration if you continue to use the DBA and none of the information in your original filing has changed. Renewal filings do not have to be published. Whenever the information in your originally filed fictitious business name statement changes, you must file a new statement. If you stop using your DBA before your fictitious business name statement expires, you are required to file a statement of abandonment for the DBA in the same manner you filed your original statement, including publication.