Registering a California Fictitious Business Name

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We have prepared this brief overview of the registration process for obtaining a fictitious business name in California.


Companies of all structures and sizes often find themselves desiring to conduct business under a name that is different from the legal name that the business entity was formed with. The variance could be as slight as wishing to drop the entity type from the end, such as “LLC” or “Inc”, or may be a completely different name altogether. In either circumstance however, the required fictitious business name (FBN) paperwork still needs to be filed. It is critical to note that this process takes 4-5 weeks from beginning to end so should be initiated well in advance of when your business wants to begin using its new FBN.

Step 1: Choosing a name

When choosing a fictitious business name, the name must be “sufficiently different” from names that other entities are already using. If your entity is an LLC, it can have the same FBN as an INC, but not as another LLC. There are online searches that your Lloyd & Mousilli team can run on your behalf to check the availability of the FBN you’ve chosen.

Step 2: Registering Your Business with the County Tax Office

After an FBN has been selected, if your business is not already registered with the county tax office, that paperwork needs to be filed. In California, FBN’s are done only on a county by county basis, so for each county requested, separate tax registrations are required. While these business registrations are done online, there is both a cost and diligence aspect as they also need to be renewed annually. From the time the registration is submitted online, it usually takes 48 hours to become effective. Depending on the needs of your company, your Lloyd & Mousilli attorney can help direct you on which counties are necessary to register within to maintain compliance.

Step 3: Filing the FBN itself

After your business has filed its registrations with the tax office in the appropriate counties, it is time to submit the FBN application itself. There is a fee associated with this which varies by county. In addition to being accepted by only by hand delivery or by regular mail.

Step 4: The Publishing Requirement

After your business has filed the FBN application, it is time to begin fulfilling the publishing requirement. In many California counties, FBN need to run in an approved publication for a minimum of four (4) consecutive weeks. There is a cost associated with this, which can vary greatly depending on which publication is chosen. Many publishing vendors will also file the appropriate paperwork with the county after publication is complete.

Talk to Your Lloyd & Mousilli Lawyer

While it is fairly straightforward, the process is lengthy. If you need help filing the appropriate paperwork or making sure you’re following the law, reach out to your contact at Lloyd & Mousilli and we will make sure that your business successfully registers its FBN in California.

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