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A fictitious business name is a California DBA (doing business as). A fictitious business name registration in California allows a company to operate under a name that differs from its legal name.

Your personal assets will not be protected if you register a DBA in California. Forming a formal business structure, such as an LLC or corporation, will provide you with liability protection as well as a business name.

In California, you can register a fictitious business name.

It is simple to register a California trade name, also known as a DBA.

A DBA is only used for branding purposes. A DBA does not protect your personal assets in the event that your company is sued. As a result, we strongly advise that a DBA be used only by a formal business structure such as an LLC or corporation to add new brands to an existing business.

If you run an informal business (sole proprietorship or partnership), we strongly advise you to form an LLC to keep your business and personal assets separate. The name of the LLC can be chosen to serve as the business’s brand name.

Learn How to File a DBA in California in Three Easy Steps:

Begin by conducting a California Fictitious Business Name Search.

Use Your California Fake Business Name

Create a California DBA.

Step 1: Begin by conducting a California Fictitious Business Name Search.

Your California fictitious business name must be distinct and meet the state’s business name requirements.

Before you file, you must check county records to ensure that your exact name is not already in use. In Step 2, we will provide contact information for county offices. You must also consider any state naming regulations.

Your fictitious business name in California should NOT include:

Unless the business is actually an LLC, corporation, etc., any business entity suffix, such as LLC, Incorporated, Corp, etc.

Restricted words (for example, bank, attorney, university) may necessitate additional paperwork and the participation of a licenced individual, such as a doctor or lawyer, in your business.

We recommend that you check to see if your name is available as a web domain (URL). You may not intend to launch a business website right now, but you may want to prevent others from acquiring your URL.

Step 2: Use Your Fictitious California Business Name

Fictitious business names in California are registered with the county in which your principal place of business is located.

If your primary place of business is located outside of California, you must register with the Sacramento County Clerk. Nonprofits are exempt from filing a Fictitious Business Name Statement.

A DBA does not provide any protection for your personal assets if your company is sued. Visit our How to Form an LLC page and select your state for more information on forming a limited liability company.

Obtaining a DBA from the County Clerk

Because DBA regulations are managed by the state of California, the steps for obtaining a DBA are consistent from county to county.

We will walk you through the process of obtaining a fictitious business name in Los Angeles County. If you need to file in another county, contact the appropriate county clerk for instructions.

How to Register a DBA in Los Angeles County

The LA County County Clerk’s fictitious name portal allows you to file fictitious business names online. Alternatively, copies of the forms can be mailed to you or obtained in person at the County Clerk’s office by calling (800) 201-8999.

Applicants who apply in person do not need to have their statements notarized. A Notarized Affidavit of Identity form must be included if applying by mail or through a third party. This form is available in person or over the phone at (800) 201-8999.

Control Your LA County DBA

General Concerns

For general questions about fictitious business names in Los Angeles County, call (800) 201-8999.

Renew Your Los Angeles County DBA

Every five years, you must renew your Los Angeles County DBA. Renewal forms are available on the LA County website. The renewal fee for your fictitious business name is $26. A notarization form may be required depending on how you deliver this form to LA County.

Change Your DBA in Los Angeles County

To make changes to your Los Angeles County DBA, go to the LA County website and go to the Fictitious Business Name Amendment page. A notarization form may be required depending on how you deliver this form to LA County.

Remove Your LA County DBA

To obtain a Statement of Abandonment, contact the county clerk at (800) 201-8999. If your county does not provide this form, you can make your own by following the instructions on the California Legislative website.

Step 3: Create a California DBA.

The state of California requires you to publish a “fictitious business name statement” in a newspaper in the county where your principal place of business is within 30 days of registering your fictitious business name. For four weeks, you must publish once a week.

The California Legislative website explains the publication requirements in detail. The fundamental steps are as follows:

The newspaper must be a general circulation publication that is distributed in the county where your fictitious business name is registered. A list for LA County can be found on the LA County website.

Contact the newspaper of your choice that is distributed in your county and is on the above-mentioned list. Request that a “fictitious business name statement” be published in the newspaper once a week for four weeks.

If you need to re-file your fictitious business name (the original has expired), you must publish a statement again.

Finally, within 30 days of the completion of publication, you must file an affidavit proving publication. This can be done in LA County by following the steps outlined on the LA County publication information page.

Any questions about publication requirements should be directed to the county clerk’s office where you registered your fictitious business name. The California Department of Public Health website has a complete list of county contact information.