How To File a Fictitious Business Name in California

You must register an assumed name within 40 days of starting to conduct business (which can be different from the date of forming your business entity). For 30 days after registering, you must run a weekly notice in a newspaper of record for the county, and attest this afterwards by affidavit to the Clerk. The registration must be renewed every 5 years, but newspaper publication is not required unless details have changed.


Registering a fictitious business name does not create a business entity. The document is actually known as a "statement" and it purely creates a record that gives the general public a way to know who they're dealing with, as well as allowing formal process to reach through a brand name to the legal structure underlying it.


Additional statements can be filed to record that the assumed name has now been abandoned, or that a partner has withdrawn from a partnership operating under a fictitious business name, and is no longer to be connected with that name.




A fictitious business name cannot be the same as a name already in use, or so similar as to confuse or mislead. And while certain legal designations such as "Inc" and "LLC" cannot be used unless you are such an entity, certain unsupported designations such as "Company" or "Ltd" are allowed in California.


If you're a self-employed contractor, you're a sole proprietorship by default, and the name of the legal "entity" doing business is you, under your name. You can use a business name that includes your surname without needing to register a fictitious name - for example, "John Doe Cars". But to obscure the name ("JD Cars") or to imply more owners or a different structure ("Doe & Sons", "Doe & Associates", "Doe Company") will require recording the name as an FBN.


Frequently a sole proprietorship will do business under a fictitious name for ease of transactions. A partnership is also legally named from its owners' names, and will often make a similar choice. Filing an FBN will usually be necessary before a bank will open a business account under the assumed name. Obviously a business wants to receive payments made out to its trade name - and this is increasingly common with Internet domain-name branding, when many business names have a “DotCom” attached to them.


Corporations and LLCs can choose their business name when they file their Articles to form the entity. But frequently they'll want to adopt a different name, or many such names, for branding or trademark reasons. If a company is launching a new product or service, marketing decisions may call for a new brand name. Or, if John Doe Texas wants to expand operations into California and finds John Doe California already in business use, a new fictitious business name will be required.




State law (California Business And Professions Code Sections 17900-17930) requires you to register with the Clerk of the county housing your principal place of business, or with Sacramento County if you're an out-of-state company. There's no limit to the number of names you can register, provided they're available and meet relevant criteria.


The recording fee is set by law at $10, but individual counties will vary from this. Orange County, for example, charges $26, and $5 for each additional name in the same filing. Registration forms also vary by county. It's important to check a specific county's requirements with its Clerk's office.


SunDoc Filings can handle your California fictitious business name registration for you at a minimal cost. We'll run the all-important name search to make sure your is available, file for you in the necessary county, and publish the notices in the appropriate newspaper, and file the affidavit of publication with the Clerk.


Get started at our California Fictitious Business Name page, and feel free to call us toll-free at 1-888-595-2747 for a live voice and immediate assistance.