California DBA Guide for All Businesses – Steps to File a California DBA

A California DBA name of a business is also known as a fictitious or assumed business name. Using a California fictitious business name will allow your business to operate under a name that’s different from your legal name. But in which cases do DBAs make sense? Does your business need a DBA? We have every answer you need.

What Does A California Fictitious Business Name Mean?

A DBA name simply means “doing business as”. As the full form suggests, a DBA is different from your legal business name. Filing a California DBA is necessary if your business is known with a similar but different name or you are purposefully looking for other names Some businesses also expand their business in different niches through DBAs.

For example, if Wendy’s decides to spin off its ice cream business then it can file “Wendy’s ice creams” as a DBA.

California DBA

Do I Need A DBA in California?

A California DBA is not necessary if you don’t intend to run your business with a different name. Under California law, corporations, LLCs, sole proprietors, or partnerships must file a DBA by signing legal documents if they plan to conduct the business under a different name.

A sole proprietor will only need a DBA if he/she does not intend to use their surname in the legal name or if the name contains unnamed owners like, – “Smith & Sons.”

What to Consider While Filing a DBA? 

You need to be aware of the following things before you attempt to file a California fictitious business name or the state SOS may reject your request.

  • Just like your legal business name, the DBA name should be unique from existing businesses in the state records.
  • An LLC or corporation must be in good standing to file a DBA.
  • You’ll have to pay certain filing fees and some states won’t accept credit cards. So you should also keep a check or money order ready.
  • Your DBA will expire after your mentioned period or when it reaches the maximum limit allowed in the state. You may renew the name once it expires.
  • Fill out the application correctly and clarify your type of business.

How Can I Get a DBA in California? 

(In California, a California DBA is filed with the county clerk or county recorder in the county where the business is located. There is no option to file for a DBA at the state level.)

You can easily get a DBA, if you own a registered California LLC. The state doesn’t provide an option to file a DBA at the state level. Follow the steps to know how to get a DBA in California.

Step 1: California DBA Search

As you may know, your California fictitious business name must be unique from other existing businesses in state records. Besides, the name should also meet California’s business naming laws.

Simply perform a California business name search and check for name availability. This basically involves searching your desired California DBA name(s) in the secretary of state’s business records. Avoid any names that are already associated with a registered business. Besides –

California DBA availability check

  • Your DBA name should not have any other business suffix. This means you cannot use words like LLC or Corporation unless the business is actually an LLC or corporation.
  • You may need additional permission from the state to use words like bank, attorney, university, etc.
  • Avoid using a name that may reflect any illegal activity.
  • You may also check if the name is also available as a web domain if you also want to create a website with your DBA name.

Step 2: File The DBA at the County Clerk/SOS

Once you finalize a valid California DBA name, you need to register it with the county of your business location. For example, for a business in Los Angeles, you’ll have to know how to get a DBA in California by visiting the LA county website. The same goes for businesses located in San Diego, Orange, Sacramento, and other counties.

Here’s how to file a Los Angeles County fictitious name.

How To File DBA for LA County?

You can file your California fictitious business name online on the LA County fictitious name page. LA county allows filing a fictitious name by mail, in person, or through a third party. If you are filing by mail or a third party is helping you, then you must notarize your documents.

You need to submit your filled-out form in person at an LA county office or mail it to the below address.

  • 500 W.
  • Temple St.,
  • Room 358, Los Angeles, CA, 90012

You may file your California DBA for different counties in a similar way. The steps will remain mostly the same but the pricing is going to vary for different counties.

What is the Cost To File DBA in California?

California DBA cost

In California, the cost of a California fictitious business name may vary by county. For LA, it will cost you $26 to register the first business name and registrant. For every additional business name & registrant, you’ll have to pay $5. You may have more details on fees on the LA county’s office or website.

For Companies Not Located In California – If your business doesn’t have a physical location in CA then it falls into a foreign entity. Meaning you’ll have to register your California DBA with Sacramento County. Simply file the FBN statement form which requires a payment of $44 plus $8 for each extra business name or owner.

Can I Update My DBA Information?

You are free to make changes to your California DBA by filing the DBA name amendment application. You may find this form on your specific county’s website and also know how to get a DBA in California. For example, if your business address is in LA then go to the LA county website and file the FBA Amendment form.

Do I Have to Renew my California DBA? 

Yes, you’ll have to renew your California fictitious business name after its expiration. In California, fictitious names are valid for up to 5 years or until the time/date you mention in the form (must be less than 5 years). Once your name expires, you can renew your DBA by filing a renewal from your county’s website.

Can I File Multiple DBAs in California?

Yes, you can file multiple DBAs for your California LLC. However, the exact limit for LLCs, corporations, or any other business depends on the county. Most counties in California allow businesses to have up to three DBA names.

What If I Stop Using My DBA Name?

DBA name abandonment

If you want to drop your California DBA then you can file the “Fictitious Name Abandonment” form on your county’s website. The fees may vary for different counties. For instance –

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How much does a California DBA cost?

In California, the cost of a fictitious name can vary from county to county. For example, the Los Angeles County changes $5 to search for name availability and $26 to file your application.

2. Are DBAs charged with separate taxes?

A fictitious name or DBA essentially represents the same business and they doesn't require separate tax filings.

3. Is their another name for DBAs?

As a doing business as is also known as fictitious name and assumned name.

4. For how long will my fictitious name last in California?

A California fictitious name will last you for maximum of 5 year. You may also specify a time to end your DBA anytime before 5 years.

5. Does a sole proprietor need to file a DBA?

Sole proprietors don't need to officially register their DBA as long as it contains the owners surname.

What After I File My DBA in California?

Your most work is done once you successfully file your California DBA. But some certain things will still help your business part from knowing about how to get a DBA in California. If your California fictitious business name represents a parent company (Gap Inc. has percent companies Old Navy, Banana Republic & Athletica), create a separate business account for that. Build up your business website to engage customers.

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