How to Set Up a DBA in California

By David Ingram

A DBA name, also called a fictitious or assumed name, grants an individual or company the right to do business under a name other than the individual's or company's legal name. California provides entrepreneurs with a relatively simple and straightforward process for setting up a DBA, which can be accomplished through the mail or in person in your county of residence. Setting up a DBA can lead to a successful career as a self-employed individual, or it can be the first step in building a larger organization.

A DBA name, also called a fictitious or assumed name, grants an individual or company the right to do business under a name other than the individual's or company's legal name. California provides entrepreneurs with a relatively simple and straightforward process for setting up a DBA, which can be accomplished through the mail or in person in your county of residence. Setting up a DBA can lead to a successful career as a self-employed individual, or it can be the first step in building a larger organization.

Step 1

Come up with a business name to register as your DBA. According to the California Secretary of State, business names in California cannot closely resemble existing business names or mislead the public. If there is already a business named “Tina's Dogs,” for example, the name “Tina's Dogz” would not likely be accepted. Likewise, the name “Tina's Dogs” would not be acceptable for a DBA registered to sell real estate.

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Step 2

Check your chosen name against the California Secretary of State's online database of registered business names to see whether it is available. If your first choice is not available, go back to the drawing board and choose a new name altogether, and perform the search again.

Step 3

Contact your local county clerk's office and request a Fictitious Name Statement form. Your county may provide a form online that you can print at home, or you may have to visit the county clerk's office in person.

Step 4

File your Fictitious Name Statement. Although the specific formats vary between counties, the required information is virtually the same. Be ready to list your desired DBA name and business address, as well as your personal contact information and legal name. After filling out the information, sign the bottom of the form.

Step 5

Submit the DBA filing fee along with your Fictitious Name Statement. Check with your county clerk's office to determine the fee charged in your county, since fees differ among California counties. Placer County, for example, charges $30 for one fictitious name assigned to one entity, and an additional $5.50 for additional names or entities, whereas Los Angeles County charges $26 for the first name and entity, and $5 for each additional name and entity.

Step 6

Publish notice of your DBA registration in a newspaper of general circulation in your county of residence once per week for four consecutive weeks. Check with your county clerk's office to determine if there is a specific list of approved publications in which to meet this requirement. Check with the publication when placing your notice to ensure that it will file an affidavit with the county clerk upon completion.

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How to Incorporate a DBA in California

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How to File a DBA in Montana

DBA in a business context stands for "doing business as." Having a DBA for your business allows you to use a name other than your own full legal name for your company. For example, if you wanted to call your gas station "Super Fill-Ups," you would have to register the DBA because it's not your name. In Montana, DBAs are referred to as "assumed business names." Registering your name establishes your rights to use the name.

How to Add a DBA to an S-Corp

A DBA is an acronym for “doing business as," and can be used by any business owner, including an S Corporation, to distinguish the business’s products and services from its competitors. Any type of trade name, fictitious name or assumed name used for a business is generally referred to as a DBA. To add a DBA to your S-Corp, you must follow the requirements of the state law where your S-Corp was formed. Most states require registration of a DBA with a government agency, with some states further requiring publication of the DBA in an approved newspaper.

Define DBA

A DBA, short for "doing business as," refers to the name a company or individual uses when it operates under a different name than its legally registered name. Most states require you to register your DBA with either your county clerk’s office or with your state government, depending on where you're doing business. DBAs are also called "assumed names," "trade names," or "fictitious names."

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