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What is a DBA and How do I Get One in California?

November 8, 2018


In California, all business entities are required to file a DBA (Doing Business As), or fictitious name, if they are operating under a different name than their legal name. The term “fictitious name” is slightly misleading, as a DBA is not fictitious at all. It is the real, public name under which the business operates. If you operate your California business under a different name than your business’s legal name, contact the business law attorneys at Verhagen Bennett for help with filing your DBA.


What is a DBA?


When you are doing business using a name that is not your business’s legal name, the name you are doing business under is deemed to be your DBA. For example, Google LLC is the legal name of products like Google Search, Google Calendar, Google Mail, Google Analytics, and more that we reference daily by name. While Google LLC is the business’s legal name, the common names that we recognize each product byare the DBAs.


Are You Required to Have a DBA in California?


Yes. In California, you are required to file a DBA if you are operating your business under a name different than its legal name. This applies to limited liability companies, corporations, partnerships, and even sole proprietors. Specifically, if you sign any legal documents for your business under a name different than your business’s legal name, you are required to file a DBA.


The purpose of this law is to prevent businesses from avoiding liability that they incur under a different name than their legal name. Thus, courts will look to how similar your business’s legal name is to the name under which your business is operating. If the two are significantly different, then you will be required to file a DBA for the name you are using. When in doubt, it is always better to take the safe route and file a DBA anyway. With the help of an experienced business law attorney in California, this process can be quick and painless.


How to Set Up a DBA in California


  • The first step to setting up a DBA in California is to perform a name check to ensure the business name you have selected is not already taken. If the name you wanted is already taken, try to brainstorm different names that are not too similar to the existing name so as to create confusion for your customers.

  • Once you determine that the business name you selected is available, the next thing you will need to do is file and register your fictitious name statement. The forms and fees vary by county, so it is best to consult with an attorney in your county to ensure that you do not waste time filling out and filing the wrong documents. If you are located in Santa Monica or the greater Los Angeles area, contact our attorneys for assistance with this step.

  • Generally, within 30 days of registering the fictitious name for your DBA, you must publish it in a newspaper in circulation where the business is being done for four consecutive weeks. Rules, publications, and fees may vary from county to county. Our attorneys are experienced with the process and dedicated to making it as easy as possible for our clients.


Contact a Santa Monica or Los Angeles Business Law Attorney Today


To learn more about filing a DBA for your business, contact the business law attorneys at Verhagen Bennett today to schedule your free case review. The business law attorneys at Verhagen Bennett have filed countless DBA applications for their clients and obtained successful results. Call us at 310-917-1064 or visit our website to schedule your free consultation today.


(image courtesy of john-schnobrich) 



For questions or comments about this post, please email us directly at: info@VerhagenBennett.com


© 2018 Verhagen Bennett LLP — This article is for general information only. The information presented should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.

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