How to File a DBA in California - Easy Steps To File a DBA

Started an LLC or Corporation in California but need to change the name you are doing business as? Then this article is for you!

There are a number of reasons you might want to file a DBA in the state of California. Maybe you have a new brand you’re trying to run under your existing LLC. Maybe you are completely rebranding but do not want to change your company structure. Or maybe you just need to position your company better in the market with a new name.

Before we get into the steps for filing a DBA, let’s talk about what DBA you should choose and some of the different things you need to be aware of before you start the process.

What kind of businesses need DBA? All businesses that want to sign legal agreements and operate under a different name than their legal name must file a DBA. If that is your situation, you are in the right spot! There are different benefits and ways that new businesses, sole proprietors, LLCs, corporations, and franchises can benefit from filing for a DBA in the state of California.

Why should a business file for a DBA in the state of California? Filing a DBA keeps you from needing to form a completely different business entity in the state while allowing you to operate under a different name.

Filing for DBAs also allows you to operate different divisions of your company, purchase other businesses, or otherwise operate under different brands while ultimately conducting your operations under the same business entity.

With a DBA you can set up separate business bank accounts for your different brands of businesses, and if you are a sole proprietor they show that your company and personal belongings are separate to protect you in the event of any legal trouble. It’s also much easier to operate different brands for your company without going through the entire process of setting up an LLC or corporation. But if you do need to set up a new LLC or Corporation, our team here at MyCorporation is standing by ready to help you!

You cannot use Inc or LLC in the name of your DBA and California law forbids you from choosing a DBA that misleads customers. LLC and Inc are reserved for the actual name of your business rather than your DBA.

All DBA processing is handled at the county level rather than the state level, and the forms you fill out and the filing fees to process each of these steps will vary depending on what county you’re in. We will walk you through what to do at each step along the way, but the best resource for specific forms and fees required to process your paperwork is your local county clerk’s office.

Whatever the reason you have for Doing Business under a different name, here are the steps you need to take to file a DBA in the state of California!

1. Check the Name

In order to avoid issues and make sure your DBA is properly set up, you need to make sure that there is not already a business operating under your preferred DBA in the state of California.

According to the Chamber of Commerce, you cannot perform an online name search with the California Secretary of State but must instead fill out a form with their office instead.

You have to set up a DBA before you can start conducting business under that name in the state of California and must continue checking with the state until that DBA is approved.

2. File a Fictitious Business Name Statement

This can be done easily with your county clerk’s office. They will have different requests on their forms and fee structures depending on what county you live in. Your best bet is to go there in person for more information.

Most statements regardless of the county you are in will ask for your business name and address, the DBA name, the business address, the legal name of the business owner, your state ID number, and the type of business. You will want to keep this paper work handy as you will need to refile this information 5 years after it is originally completed.

3. File the DBA with the County Clerk’s Office or County Recorder

In order for your DBA to be processed correctly, you need to submit all required documents in the same county that your company headquarters is located in.

You need to make sure that all of these forms are submitted to the county within 40 days of starting your business, otherwise you could run into issues with the state or be required to start the process over again.

If you have any questions about the specific forms or information requested as a part of the process, your best resource will almost always be your local county clerk’s office that will have the specific information on file that your business needs to move forward with the process.

4. Publish Your Business Name

After the fictitious business name statement has been filed, it is time to publish a DBA statement. This must be published in a 30 day window after your filing. This will run in a county publication in the county you plan on doing business.

Your local county clerk will have more information on the publications you can publish this in and what additional information is needed to legitimize the publishing of your business name.

Once this step is completed, congratulations! Your DBA has officially been filed and you can conduct business under this name. You have taken the final step towards doing business under your new name. Time to get to work, spread the word, and get your new brand out to the masses!

5. Stay on Top of Refiling Paperwork

Five years after filing your fictitious name statement, you need to refile this paperwork. When you file a DBA online with MyCorporation, we can help you stay on top of this by sending you reminders and walking you through the process!