How to Incorporate a DBA in California

By Elizabeth Stock

The term “DBA” is an acronym for “doing business as” and refers to a fictitious name that a company may use in the course of transacting business. A DBA must be registered if the company wishes to use a name other than what appears in its articles of incorporation. It is not possible to incorporate a DBA as you would do with a business, but you can incorporate your company and then register a DBA. You might wish to do this for several reasons, one being the fact that a fictitious name allows you to create a unique persona for your business. Fictitious business names must be registered in the county where the company has its principal place of business. Statewide fictitious name filings are not available in California.

Step 1

Determine the appropriate county in which to file your DBA. Generally, you must register in the county where your principal office is located. If you operate in several counties, the principal place of business is the county in which your company has its headquarters. If you are not sure where to file your DBA, contact the County Clerk's office in one of the counties in which you conduct business.

Step 2

Conduct a fictitious business name search to determine whether the name that you want to use is available. The County Clerk’s office does not offer this service, so you will need to conduct your own search online or in person at the County Clerk's office before registering your fictitious name.

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Step 3

Complete a Fictitious Business Name Statement and file the form with the County Clerk’s office. You can obtain this form from the County Clerk’s office, and it is also available online in some counties. Be sure to comply with the filing deadlines. Your corporation must register a DBA within 40 days of commencing business under a fictitious name. Some counties let you file the statement online or by mail, but registering in person at the County Clerk’s office ensures that all paperwork is completed correctly and received in a timely manner. The County Clerk will charge a fee at the time of filing.

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How to File Your DBA in Dallas


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Can an LLC Have More Than One DBA?

Running a successful business requires a keen understanding of the marketplace. In the initial stages of operations, this foresight is important for determining how to structure a company and the names it will use in conducting transactions with the public. A limited liability company allows owners to enjoy the "pass-through" tax advantages of partnerships as well as avoiding personal liability for the business's debts. While state law requires that LLCs operate under the legal name contained in their Articles of Organization, sometimes this name is not desirable from a branding perspective, particularly if the company will market very different products or services. In that case, the LLC can register one or more "doing business as" names with the state.

California Fictitious Business Name Filing Requirements

California law requires that any company doing business in the state under a fictitious name register that name. The purpose of a fictitious name filing is to create a public record of the real people and companies operating under assumed names, or "doing business as" (DBA) names. Since you may not register a name identical or deceptively similar to one already in use, the law also protects the rights of businesses to keep their name unique.

How to Become a DBA

The acronym DBA stands for “doing business as.” A DBA is a business name your company uses that is different from the name of the company or the name of its owners. States have slightly different filing requirements and may use similar terms for the DBA concept such as trade name, fictitious name and assumed name. Not all states require registering fictitious names, but doing so will help eliminate potential confusion in the event another business uses a name similar to yours.


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