How to Reserve a Business Name with the State of Florida

By Larissa Bodniowycz, J.D.

How to Reserve a Business Name with the State of Florida

By Larissa Bodniowycz, J.D.

In Florida, you cannot reserve a name, you can only register it. Before conducting business in the Sunshine State, you must register the fictitious name you intend to use with the Florida Department of State. Be aware that registering a fictitious name does not reserve it or stop another person from registering it.

Three friends sitting at cafe with laptops


Registering a Fictitious Business Name in Florida

A fictitious name is different from your personal one or a business entity's. For example, Stephen Doe might use the title "Stephen's Sweets" for his sole proprietorship that sells baked goods. "Stephen's Sweets" is a trade name for Stephen Doe. This is also called a DBA, or "doing business as."

If a business wants to use any name other than its legally registered one, it must register a DBA so that the state and the public can identify the person or business entity. Follow these steps to register your DBA in Florida.

1. Publish the name.

Before filing anything with the state of Florida, you must publish your intended DBA along with your business's legal name at least once in a newspaper located within the county of your principal place of business. While proof of advertisement is not required, you must certify the advertisement when you sign the application.

2. Complete the fictitious business name application.

You can file a fictitious name registration online or by mail. Registering by mail usually takes about two weeks while online registration takes only a few days. The online application and downloadable mail-in registration form are both available on the Florida Department of State website.

The other information you need to complete your registration is your business's DBA, mailing address, principal place of business, and federal tax identification number; a valid email address for contacting the business; and the names and mailing addresses of each of your business's owners. You can only include one DBA per application. If you want to register more than one, you must complete an application for each title.

After entering the required information, review it carefully for typos or mistakes. Once you register a fictitious name, you can only change it by canceling and registering again.

3. Pay for your registration.

When applying for your fictitious business name online, you must select a payment method to complete registration. You can pay by credit card, your Sunbiz E-file account, or a check by mail. If you want a certified copy of the registration, you must pay an additional fee.

How Long is a Fictitious Business Name Registration Valid in Florida?

A fictitious name is valid beginning the date of registration and expires on December 31 of the fifth calendar year thereafter. The period from registration to December 31 of the year of your registration counts as your first calendar year. The Division of Corporations of the Department of State will notify you of your upcoming expiration no later than September 1st in the year that it is going to expire. You must renew your registration on or before December 31 of the expiration year.

A DBA cannot be "reserved" in the state of Florida, only registered. This may not stop someone else from registering the same name, but if you register it before anyone else does, you'll have the chance to launch your new Florida business and beginning branding it well ahead of any other interested party.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.