Filing a Sole Proprietor DBA in Los Angeles

By Joe Stone

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.

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Publication Requirement

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.

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References

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How to File a Colorado DBA

Many businesses choose to use a name other than their businesses' legal name. In Colorado, these are called trade names. In other states, they may be commonly referred to as a "doing business as" -- a DBA -- or as a fictitious name. In Colorado, if you don't register your trade name with the secretary of state, you risk fines or an injunction preventing you from using your chosen name.

Setting Up a DBA in Massachusetts

A DBA, which is short for doing business as, is the registration form that a business owner must file when she does business under a name other than her real name. Not all states require you to register a DBA, but Massachusetts does. In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the law requires business owners to register a DBA to create a public record of the name and address of the true owner of a business. According to Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 110, Section 5, DBA registrations are required for "any person conducting business in the Commonwealth under any title other than the real name of the person conducting the business, whether individually or as a partnership." For example, if your name is Kent Plank and your business is Plank's Carpentry, you're using a name other than your real name and must register your business as a DBA. Similarly, if a corporation is named "Waldo's Wonders" in its articles of incorporation but the corporation wants to do business under a different name, the owner would have to register that name as a fictitious business name. In Massachusetts, you register a DBA in the city or town in which you do business.

How to Add DBA to an LLC

When registering a limited liability company, or LLC, with a state business registration entity, an individual must provide a legal name for the LLC. In addition to a legal name, an LLC may also have a fictitious business name. A fictitious business name, also referred to as a “trade name,” “DBA name” or assumed name, allows an LLC to use a name other than its legal name. By using fictitious business names, one LLC can be used to operate multiple businesses. While the method of registering a fictitious business name varies by state, it generally involves filing a fictitious business name registration with either a state or county agency.

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