In Florida, a business operating under a fictitious name will need to register for a Fictitious Business Name. Learn more about what a Fictitious Business Name is, who needs one, and how to register.
Related: How to start a business in Florida
What is a Fictitious Business Name?
A Fictitious Business Name, typically known as a DBA or Doing Business As, and sometimes as a Trade Name, or Assumed Name, is a name used by a business that is different from the legal name of the business.
When a business wants to operate under a name other than its legal name, the state of Florida, like most states, requires the business to register its business name. The registration requirement was created under Florida Statutes § 865.09 to protect consumers from business owners hiding anonymously behind the name of a business.
What is a Fictitious Name good for?
A Fictitious Name is required for many businesses in order to legally operate and provides information on the people operating a business. In addition to the legal requirement, a DBA offers other benefits such as proof of the existence of a business, open bank accounts under a business name, registering a merchant account to accept credit cards, and others.
Who needs to register for a Florida Fictitious Name?
The requirements and need to register for a Fictitious Business Name vary, depending on the type of business entity.
Sole proprietorships and general partnerships are the most common entities to register for a DBA.
The legal name of a sole proprietor or partnership can be the owner’s full first and last name, which can be used without registering in Florida. For example, if John Smith starts a small business repairing computers on the side and doesn’t use a business name, he doesn’t have to register. If John decides to name his business John’s Computer Repair, he will need to register.
Corporations and Limited Liability Companies won’t typically register a fictitious name since a unique entity name is created during the formation process. Some will file for a DBA if they have another business they want to operate under their corporate/LLC umbrella to keep the liability protection without forming another entity.
How much does a DBA cost in Florida?
The cost to register a DBA in Florida is $50. In addition, there is a publishing requirement that will cost between $30 and $100, depending on the publication.
There is an optional $30 fee to get a certified copy of your DBA registration.
Renewal is required as the Fictition Name expires on December 31st of the fifth year.
What are the steps to file a DBA in Florida?
Step 1: Legal Notice Advertisement
A legal notice is required to be published in a newspaper with circulation in the county where the business is located BEFORE filing the registration form.
This notice publication only has to be run one time.
Contact the newspaper of your choice. Prices will vary by paper but expect to spend between $30 and $100 for this notice. Once the notice runs, the newspaper will send an affidavit stating the notice ran.
There is no requirement to submit to the Florida Department of State, but before submitting the name registration form, you certify that the ad has been published.
Step 2: Fill out the Form
After running the legal notice, the Fictitious Name registration can be filled out and either submitted online through the state’s Sunbiz website or by mailing the form to the Florida Department of State, Division of Corporations.
The form has questions regarding:
– Proposed name to be registered
– Mailing address of the business
– County of the principal place of business
– FEI number (same as the EIN issued by the IRS) – Not all businesses need to register for an EIN. If that is the case, leave it blank
– Registrant contact information
– Florida Document Number – this is only for business entities registered with the state, such as corporations or Limited Liability Companies.
Step 3: Submit the Form
Filing time is typically 2-3 business days when filing online or 3-5 business days when submitting by mail.
If submitting the paper form, mail it to:
Fictitious Name Registration
PO Box 6327
Tallahassee, FL 32314
Are there any naming restrictions when filing a Florida DBA?
Per Florida Statutes, Section 655.922, Fictitious Names can’t be registered using words related to financial institutions such as “bank,” “trust company,” “savings bank,” “credit union,” or other similar words unless the business is licensed to provide banking services.
Additionally, businesses can’t use entity designators such as “corporation,” “corp.”, “incorporated,” “LLC,” “Limited Liability Company,” etc., unless they are registered as that business entity.
Can someone use my business name after registering a Florida DBA?
Unlike other states, the Fictitious Name in Florida does not require a fictitious name search to verify that nobody else is using your name.
If stopping others from using your business name is important, you can protect it through a federal trademark through the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.
Learn more about trademarking a business name.
Does a DBA have to be registered in Florida?
Any Florida sole proprietorship or partnership that wants to do business under a name that is different from the owner’s full name or a Florida corporation or LLC that wants to operate under a name that is different from the legal name of the entity is required to register the name.
What happens if you don’t publish your DBA in Florida?
Any person who fails to comply with the Florida state statute is committing a second-degree misdemeanor.