How to File a California DBA in 2024: 4 Simple Steps

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    Are you interested in comprehending the importance of a DBA in California and the procedure associated with its submission? You’ve arrived at the correct location. Known as “Doing Business As,” a California DBA enables entrepreneurs to embrace an alternate business name for purposes such as advertising, sales, and legal affairs.

    In certain states, this designation is alternatively referred to as a fictional name, presumed name, trade name, or similar phrases.

    Dissimilar from a Limited Liability Company (LLC), a DBA does not constitute a formal business structure and does not provide comparable benefits. Frequently, opting to register an LLC in California proves more advantageous due to tax incentives and legal safeguards.

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    Understanding California DBAs

    If you’re looking for details on how to register a DBA in California, it’s important to note that the state commonly refers to it as an FBN, which is short for “fictitious business name.” In order to comply with California regulations, you’re required to register an FBN with either the Registrar-Recorder or County Clerk’s office in the county where your business is located. This registration process must be completed under specific circumstances.

    • A sole proprietorship employing a business name distinct from the owner’s name
    • A partnership utilizing a name other than the partners’ last names
    • An LLC, corporation, limited partnership, or any other business entity operating under a name other than the official business name

    When you register an FBN, you’re legally connecting yourself to the trade name you have chosen. This connection becomes public knowledge and is recorded in official documents. In California, it’s required by law that you publish your fictitious name in a local newspaper within 30 days of registering the DBA.

    Choosing Your Business Name

    Before proceeding with your DBA/FBN, ensure the name is available by conducting a business name search through the Secretary of State’s website for existing California business entities. In many counties, you can also search FBN filings on individual county websites, with links available on the CalGold website.

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    California DBA Costs

    Before submitting your DBA documents, it’s advisable to get in touch with the county clerk of your area to obtain the most up-to-date information regarding filing fees, as they can vary depending on location. For example, in Los Angeles County, you would need to pay $5 for searching the business name database and an additional $26 for filing your application. Additionally, there’s a yearly renewal fee of $26 for maintaining your DBA.

    In California, certain businesses may be required to obtain additional state licenses and permits in order to operate legally. Each license or permit comes with its own associated fees. To find out more about regulated industries and the current fees involved, you can visit the website of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). They provide detailed information on this matter.


    There are three choices available to you when it comes to filing your Fictitious Business Name. Upon visiting the LA County Business Filing and Registration System, you will be prompted to choose the option of filing a Fictitious Business Name, after which you can select your preferred method of filing.

    • File In-Person
    • File By Mail
    • File Via Third Party

    If you’re not applying in person, it’s necessary to include an affidavit of identity form.

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    Setting Up a DBA in California

    Once you have chosen your DBA name, the next step is to register it. It all begins with the county where you plan to operate. For instance, if your business is based in Los Angeles, go to the LA County website and pay a registration fee of $26.

    The registration process can be completed online or by downloading forms for mailing. If you decide to have a third party handle the FBN registration for you, make sure to get your documents notarized.

    For businesses located outside California that are considered foreign entities, register your DBA with the Clerk of Sacramento County. You will need to submit a Fictitious Business Name Statement and pay $44 plus an additional $8 for each business name or owner listed on the statement.

    Keep in mind that pricing and procedures may vary depending on the county where you’re registering. To get specific information about forms and filing fees, contact your local County Clerk’s office.

    Why Hire a Professional Service to File a DBA in California? 

    Filing a DBA (Doing Business As) in California requires following a series of steps, which will be outlined shortly. It’s crucial to avoid any mistakes during this process as they can result in the rejection of your application or even more serious consequences. If you improperly use a name in legal or business contexts, the state of California has the authority to impose fines or shut down your company.

    To ease your worries and uncertainties throughout the entire DBA process, it’s recommended to hire professional services. These professionals possess an extensive knowledge of California’s requirements and can assist you in choosing an ideal name before starting any paperwork.

    In addition to catering to DBA needs, these service providers also offer LLC services and other related services, anticipating potential future expansions for your business. After conducting thorough research, we have identified the top professional services that can meet all your DBA requirements:

    Step 1 – Conduct a Name Search for Your California DBA

    Upon first observation, the name of your business sets it apart from all other companies. When customers search for websites that offer a particular product, having a catchy, enjoyable, and distinctive name increases the chances of them clicking on your site. While selecting a name should be an enjoyable process, this decision can greatly impact the success of your enterprise.

    If you plan on expanding your focus in the future, it’s wise to avoid names that pigeonhole your business into a specific niche. For example, using a name like wouldn’t make sense for a business that sells cat supplies.

    When brainstorming ideas for your California Doing Business As (DBA) name, simplicity is key. Using unique spellings of common words or long names can make it challenging for customers to remember and type accurately. It’s acceptable to use non-dictionary words as long as they’re spelled exactly as they sound.

    When it comes to selecting a business name, it’s crucial to be creative and avoid using common choices that may have already been taken by other companies. It’s recommended to opt for a unique name that not only represents your business but also adds a personal touch.

    No matter what name you choose, it’s important to refrain from implying anything beyond a DBA (Doing Business As). Including terms like LLC or Inc. could result in the rejection of your DBA application in California.

    For detailed guidelines on naming requirements for a DBA in California, please consult the regulations and additional statutory requirements provided by the California Secretary of State’s Business Entity Name Regulations & Additional Statutory Requirements and Restrictions.

    Verify Name Availability in California

    Once you have settled on the perfect name, it’s crucial to utilize a reputable service such as ZenBusiness to confirm its availability in California. These services offer convenient search tools that swiftly detect any similar names that may pose a conflict with your intended vision. It’s wise to have alternative names prepared in case your initial preference is not obtainable.

    Obtain a Business Domain Name for Your California DBA

    Part of the process involves having a DBA, but it is equally important to secure a domain name that matches your business. This will help establish your online presence in a timely manner. If the domain you want is not available, it may be necessary to reconsider your choice of business name.

    A domain serves as the name for your website and is where people go to learn about what you have to offer. Having consistency between your domain and DBA adds credibility, while any inconsistencies can lead to confusion. 

    Renting a domain allows you to use it for up to ten years, with prices generally being reasonable but varying based on the type of domain chosen. While .com extensions are still popular, there are many other professional services like ZenBusiness that offer alternatives as well.

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    Step 2 – California DBA Registration Process

    After registering your fictitious business name in California, it’s necessary to publish a “fictitious business name statement” in a local newspaper within 30 days. This publication should take place in the county where your main office is located and needs to occur once a week for four consecutive weeks.

    For detailed information on publication requirements, you can refer to the California Legislative website. The website provides a comprehensive breakdown of the steps involved in this process.

    • The newspaper should be a general circulation publication distributed in the county where you’re registering your fictitious business name. 
    • Contact the newspaper of your choosing, which circulates in your county and is listed as mentioned above. Ask them to publish a “fictitious business name statement” in the newspaper once a week for four consecutive weeks. 
    • If you need to re-file your fictitious business name (if the original has expired), you must publish the statement again.
    • Finally, submit an affidavit providing evidence of the publication within 30 days after the completion of the publication period.

    If you have any inquiries regarding publication requirements, it’s advisable to contact the county clerk’s office where you registered your fictitious business name. The California Department of Public Health’s website provides a comprehensive list of county contact information.

    For a smoother registration process, it’s recommended to utilize professional DBA filing services such as Business Rocket. Remember that in order for the registration to be valid, registration fees and a completed California DBA form are required.

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    Step 3 – Utilize Your DBA Name in California

    Fictitious business names in California are registered in the county where your main office is situated. If your primary place of business is outside of California, you must register with the Sacramento County Clerk. Nonprofits are exempt from filing a Fictitious Business Name Statement.

    Once you have completed all the necessary details for your California DBA, it’s crucial to promote your new business or update the name for an existing one. Using your DBA officially demonstrates a greater level of professionalism for your enterprise.

    Whether or not it is mandatory for California to publish your fictitious name officially, you can effectively generate awareness by reaching out to local newspapers. It’s advisable to consult with the county clerk’s office to understand any regulations regarding the publication’s duration and content.

    Local newspapers are typically well-versed in the publishing requirements specific to their area and often have pre-designed templates for such advertisements. 

    When submitting your ad, make sure you include your business’s legal name, the chosen DBA name, and accurate contact information. The cost of publication may vary depending on frequency and county regulations, so it’s important to clarify all terms and dates in order to ensure accuracy.

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    Step 4 – Manage Your California DBA

    Renew Your LA County DBA

    To maintain compliance, it’s necessary to update your Los Angeles County DBA every five years. The renewal documents can be located on the official LA County website. The fee for extending your fictitious business name amounts to $26. It’s important to note that depending on the method of submission, a notarization form may be required.

    Change Your LA County DBA

    To modify your Los Angeles County DBA, simply go to the Fictitious Business Name Amendment page on the LA County website. Keep in mind that if you choose to submit this form in person, you might be required to provide a notarization form.

    Withdraw Your LA County DBA

    Give the county clerk a call at (800) 201-8999 in order to ask for a Statement of Abandonment. In case your county doesn’t have this form available, you can make your own by following the guidelines on the California Legislative website.

    Best DBA Filing Services to Register Fictitious Name in California – CA DBA

    Here are the top-notch services available for registering a make-believe name in California.

    Business Rocket logo

    For those in search of registering a Doing Business As (DBA) in California, Business Rocket offers a valuable service. This platform caters specifically to entrepreneurs and business owners in the state, providing an easy-to-use and seamless experience. 

    Business Rocket simplifies the often complicated paperwork that comes with DBA registration in California by offering intuitive online tools and step-by-step guidance.

    The main goal of Business Rocket is to make the entire process more efficient, guiding individuals through the necessary legal requirements and ensuring their chosen business name is unique while also adhering to California regulations. 

    With features like document preparation assistance and help with filing, Business Rocket makes it easier for individuals to register their DBA smoothly, assisting them in establishing their presence within California.

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    Northwest Registered Agent logo

    Northwest Registered Agent, a reliable option for various legal services in California, specializes in DBA filings. As a registered agent service, Northwest provides a physical address that meets the state’s requirements for businesses operating under an alternate name.

    In addition to DBA filings, Northwest Registered Agent offers other compliance services like annual report submissions and mail forwarding. This holistic approach helps businesses maintain their good standing with the state and relieves owners of administrative tasks, allowing them to concentrate on growing their enterprises.

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    ZenBusiness is a comprehensive platform for business services that cater to entrepreneurs at all stages, including those who need to file a DBA in California. With a focus on simplicity and affordability, ZenBusiness offers an easily navigable online platform that guides users through the necessary steps of registering their DBA in California.

    This service not only helps with checking name availability but also takes care of preparing the necessary documentation and submitting filings to the appropriate authorities in California.

    Furthermore, ZenBusiness provides ongoing support when it comes to compliance matters, making it an invaluable resource for entrepreneurs who want a hassle-free and compliant approach to establishing their business identity in the state.

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    California DBA vs. California LLC

    DBAs offer the opportunity to rebrand your business, giving it a fresh and distinct identity. This allows you to establish a brand for your product or service without relying solely on your personal name. However, it’s important to note that using a CA DBA does not provide legal separation between your personal assets and your company, unlike other business structures.

    In comparison, Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) offer several advantages over sole proprietorships or partnerships. Both options allow you to operate under an assumed name, but that is where the similarities end. An LLC provides a more comprehensive business structure compared to a CA DBA, which is primarily just a name.

    LLCs offer built-in safeguards for your personal assets in case your company faces a lawsuit. Moreover, LLCs may provide tax advantages that are not available to sole proprietorships with a CA DBA. In California, there’s no guarantee of name uniqueness for your CA DBA, even after it’s registered. However, LLC names must be unique in each state to prevent others from copying your distinctive brand.

    DBAs typically have lower fees compared to LLCs and don’t require a registered agent or the same amount of paperwork to maintain good standing. While an LLC is generally the preferred option, a DBA may be suitable for a simple business looking to minimize costs.

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    File a DBA in California – Frequently Asked Questions

    If you’re still curious about how to file a DBA in California, keep reading to discover the answers you might be looking for.

    Conclusion – File a DBA in California

    Concluding the matter, registering a Doing Business As (DBA) in California is a simple and vital procedure for individuals or businesses who wish to operate under an alternative name from their legal entity. Acquiring a DBA offers increased flexibility and branding possibilities while also guaranteeing adherence to state regulations.

    The typical steps involved encompass selecting an exclusive business name, completing the required paperwork, and submitting it to the suitable county or state authorities. It’s imperative to conduct a thorough search for available names in order to avoid conflicts and ensure that the desired name can be used.

    By adhering to the correct procedures and meeting all legal requirements, individuals and businesses can effectively establish themselves under their chosen DBA in California.

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