A fictitious name, also known as a “doing business as” or “dba” name, is a name that is different from your personal name if doing business as a sole proprietorship, or your entity’s legal name, if you have incorporated or otherwise formed a separate legal business entity. Section 865.09, F.S., requires any person (which by definition includes an individual as well as a business entity) to register their “dba” name with the Florida Department of State prior to conducting business in Florida.
A fictitious name registration is important because:
1) It allows a sole proprietorship to easily register its business name in order to open a bank account and receive payments in its business name; 2) It allows a corporation, limited liability company or any other legal business entity to operate multiple businesses under different names without forming a separate business entity for each; and 3) It allows you to maintain certain legal protections when your business entity does business under a name that is not its legal name.
The sole purpose of a fictitious name registration is to inform the public which individual or business entity is transacting business under a particular business name. It does not reserve the name, provide rights to the use of the name, or prevent another party from using the name. By statute, more than one individual or business may register the same fictitious name.
The applicant (or owner) of a fictitious name is responsible for avoiding and defending against any name infringement. The Department of State strongly recommends that all applicants check the Department’s official website Sunbiz.org and their local telephone and business directories to determine if the name is already in use before using it in commerce or submitting it for registration. Legal advice is also recommended.
A fictitious name registration is not required if the applicant is:
• A licensed attorney forming a business for the practice of law in Florida.
• 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.
• A corporation, LLC or partnership that has filed, and is in good standing with the Division of Corporations, and is not transacting business under any other name.
• A federally chartered corporation not transacting business under any other name.
To register a fictitious name, submit a Fictitious Name Registration form to the Division of Corporations and pay a $50 processing fee.
The form must include:
- The fictitious name to be registered.
- The mailing address of the business.
- The name and address of each owner and, if a corporation, its federal employer’s identification number and Florida incorporation or registration number.
- Certification that the fictitious name has been advertised at least once in a newspaper in the county where the principal place of business of the applicant will be located.
- Any other information the division may deem necessary to adequately inform other governmental agencies and the public as to the persons so conducting business.