Naming your business is an important branding exercise, but if you choose to name your business as anything other than your own personal name then you’ll need to register it with the Florida Department of State
This process is known as registering your “Doing Business As” (DBA) name.
What is a “Doing Business As” (D/B/A) Name?
A fictitious name (or assumed name, trade name or DBA name) is a business name that is different from your personal name, the names of your partners or the officially registered name of your LLC or corporation.
It’s important to note that when you form a business, the legal name of the business defaults to the name of the person or entity that owns the business, unless you choose to rename it and register it as a DBA name.
For example, consider this scenario: John Smith sets up a painting business. Rather than operate under his own name, John instead chooses to name his business: “John Smith Painting”. This name is considered an assumed name and John will need to register it with the Florida Department of State .
The legal name of your business is required on all government forms and applications, including your application for employer tax IDs, licenses and permits.
Registration under the Fictitious Name Act is for public notice only and gives rise to no presumption of the registrant’s rights to own or use the name registered nor does it affect trademark, service mark, or corporate name rights previously acquired by others in the same or similar name. Registration under this section does not reserve a fictitious name against future use.
Do I Need a “Doing Business As” Name?
A DBA is needed in the following scenarios:
- Sole Proprietors or Partnerships – If you wish to start a business under anything other than your real name, you’ll need to register a DBA so that you can do business as another name.
- Existing Corporations or LLCs – If your business is already set up and you want to do business under a name other than your existing corporation or LLC name, you will need to register a DBA.
How to Register your “Doing Business As” Name in Florida
- Search Ficituious name database to see if your name is available.
- Register your fictitious (d/b/a) with the Florida Department of State: Division of Corporation
- Pay $50 filing fee
- Publish a notice of your intention of using a Fictitious name in a local county newspaper publication. (Tampa Bay Times or Business Observer for Hillsborough County , Pinellas County)
- Start doing business under your new fictitious business name!
Please note, even though the state accepts your application, it may not be valid if it does not comply with the Florida Fictitious Name Registration Act
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.
Have questions? Need help registering your D/B/A in Florida? We offer 15 minute consultations for $40. Schedule a call now!