What is a fictitious name, and when do you need to register one?
A Fictitious Name Registration is required of individuals who do business under any name other than either their legal personal name or a properly registered corporate name, partnership, trademark, service mark or limited liability company. The purpose of Chapter 865.09, Florida Statutes, known as the Fictitious Name Act, is to insure a public record of the identity of a fictitious name owner. Registration under this act does not reserve or protect a fictitious name against use by another party, nor does it provide rights to the use of a trade name, trademark, service mark or corporate name. The Division does not screen names submitted for registration against any other recorded information. Applicants may check the Division’s website to see if the name is already in use. You may also check your local telephone directory. The applicant is responsible for avoiding and defending against name infringement. If name protection is your goal, you may want to pursue registering a trademark or service mark if your name meets the requirements of the Florida Statutes. There are also other types of entity registrations you may want to consider. The advice of trusted legal counsel is recommended.
A fictitious name is any name other than an individual’s legal name. Registration of that name is required if it is used in business so as to inform the public of who is actually conducting business.
Business means any enterprise or venture in which a person sells, buys, exchanges, barters, deals or represents the dealing in any thing or article of value, or renders services for compensation.
Legal name means a person’s given name, or an entity that is properly registered.
The Division of Corporations currently maintains an index of fictitious names on a database available on the Internet. In accordance with 15.16(6), F.S., effective June 9, 2001, it is no longer a requirement to advertise the intention to register a fictitious name prior to registration. If a change of business ownership occurs, the owners must file a cancellation and re-registration within 30 days of the change.
Fictitious name registrations are valid for five years, expiring on December 31 of the fifth year. Renewals may be filed between January 1 and December 31 of the fifth year. The Division mails a renewal notice in the renewal year to the most recent mailing address on file. Failure to receive the statement of renewal does not provide the applicant with an exemption or extension to the registration renewal requirements. If the fictitious name renewal is not filed by December 31, the fictitious name registration expires.
Penalty for Failure to Register or Maintain a Fictitious Name Registration
If you do business under a fictitious name and do not file with the Division, you may be subject to certain criminal misdemeanor penalties. You may also be prevented from maintaining a lawsuit, and you may be held liable for attorneys’ fees and costs if someone cannot find you as owner of a fictitious name. All three may apply under some circumstances.
» The applicant is a licensed attorney forming a business for the practice of law in the state of Florida.
» The applicant is registered or licensed with the Department of Business and Professional Regulation or the Department of Health, and their licensing boards have not imposed requirements for the registration as a fictitious name.
» The applicant is a corporation, limited liability company or partnership filed and in good standing with the Division of Corporations and is not transacting business under any other name.
» The applicant is a federally chartered corporation and is not transacting business under any other name.
» The applicant is using their full name in the title and they are the only owner.
Call (850) 245-6058; write to the Florida Department of State, Division of Corporations, P.O. Box 1300, Tallahassee, FL 32302; or check online (www.sunbiz.org).
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