In Florida, a business operating under a fictitious name will need to register a DBA.  Learn more about what a DBA is, who needs one and how to register.

What is a DBA?

A DBA, also known as “Doing Business As”, Trade Name, Assumed Name or Fictitious Name is a name used by a business, that is different from the legal name of the business.   This is typically referred to as a Fictitious Business Name in Florida.

When a business wants to operate under a name other than their legal name, the state of Florida, like most states, require the business to register their 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.

Who needs to register?

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.  For example, if John Smith starts a 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 having to form another entity.

How much does it cost to register?

The cost to register a DBA in Florida is $50.  The registration is valid for five years and can be renewed.

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 that has 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 this notice, 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 or by mailing the form

The form has questions regarding:

  • Proposed name to be registered
  • Mailing address of business
  • County of the principal office of the 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 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

Name Restrictions

DBAs can’t be registered using words related to lending 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.

Florida Fictitious Name Registration Form

Online – http://dos.myflorida.com/sunbiz/forms/fictitious-name/
PDF – http://form.sunbiz.org/pdf/CR4E001.pdf

Protecting your business name

Registering a DBA in Florida does not stop anyone else from using the exact same name. If stopping anyone from using your business name is important, you can protect it through a trademark.

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