Having a business name different from your legal name or acquiring an attractive name for branding purposes in California is very easy by filing a DBA. We make this process easier with our 3-step DBA guide.

Important! Please keep in mind that DBA is not a business structure, so it won’t protect you from liabilities, lawsuits, or any other unforeseen situations. DBA stands for Doing Business As. – often precedes the name under which a business operates, which is not the legal name of the business.

Therefore, before starting, make sure you understand the difference between informal business structures such as sole proprietorship and formal ones like corporations and LLCs.

To register or renew the trademark, trade name, or service mark for your company in California you need to file the application to the Secretary of State. Here is what you need to do:

California Business Entity Search

Your company’s trade name should be unique and have not been acquired by any other entity in California. Moreover, this name must also meet the business name requirements of California.

First, visit the Business search section of the California Secretary of State’s website and search for the DBA that you wish to have for your business. Here, make sure, this name isn’t already in use. You can also send a mail to the Secretary of State to check the desired name availability using the name availability inquiry letter.

Note: You can also find a complete guide on business name search here.

Once you are done searching, the next step is to review the naming requirements of the state of California. Your DBA should not include:

  • Words that are commonly used by a government agency such as Treasury, FBI, State Department, etc.
  • Unless a business is actually an LLC, corporation, business suffix are not allowed.
  • Words related to banking, university, or insurance. require additional paperwork.
  • Words related to professional designation (i.e., engineering, consultant, attorney). To include such prefixes or suffixes, you may include license or require other paperwork.

Register Your California DBA ($10-$100)

In California, DBA is filled with the county where your principal place of business is located. Fictitious Business Name regulations are managed by the state of California; hence, the steps for getting a DBA are similar for every county.

In case you are a foreign entity (having the principal location of business outside California), you must file with the Sacramento County Clerk

Note: Nonprofits are not required to file a Fictitious Business Name Statement.

Filing Fee: In California, the DBA filing fee varies from county to county and it ranges from $10 to $100.

California Department of Public Health’s website contains the complete list of county contact information. Visit this website to get the information related to the county where you are operating your business. 

The following information must include in the California trade name form:

  • Your business name
  • Entity type (eg; LLC, sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation)
  • Trade name’s description
  • Business License number

Top Tip:

Instead of doing it yourself, save some time by hiring a reliable formation service like ZenBusiness. You can see editors’ Review on ZenBusiness to decide if it’s the best choice for your company.

Specimen of DBA Usage in Alabama 

The state of California requires you to publish a “fictitious business name statement” within 30 days of registering your DBA in a newspaper. Your publication must be made in the county where your principal place of business is.

To get the details of publication requirements, visit the California Legislative website. Here are some highlights:

  • Choose a newspaper from a list of general circulation publication in the county where you register your DBA.
  • You are required to publish once a week for four weeks.
  • If re-filing your DBA (in the case of original fitacious business name isexpired), you must publish a statement again.
  • An affidavit must be provided within 30 days of the completion of publication.

Any questions about publication requirements can be directed to the county clerk’s office with whom you registered your fictitious business name. 

Editor’s Insight

Filing a California fictitious business name, aka a California DBA (doing business as), is an easy and straightforward process. If you want to save time and effort, LLC filing companies like LegalZoom and ZenBusiness can help you get that at a fraction of the cost.

However, if you are interested in DIY, you just need to follow the above-mentioned step-by-step guide or see how to Get a DBA in any of the 50 states.

Please note: This page may contain affiliate links. If you buy a product or service through such a link we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

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