Secure Your Business Name

by Norma

businessNewspaperDBA stands for Doing Business As and is interchangeable with the FBN or Fictitious Business Name. DBA or FBNs create a legal name for your business to operate under. There is no national requirement for, or agency to govern, FBNs. Instead this falls to the state in which you are opening your business. The state of California, like many other states, requires an FBN when you operate a business under any name except the owners’ legal names. California then turns the rest up the various county clerks offices.

4 Reasons to get an FBN/DBA

  1. It’s required in most states.
  2. Disallows use of your business name by others.
  3. Banks require it before you can open a business account.
  4. So you can accept and cash checks made out to your business.

Where to obtain your FBN/DBA

  • The rules are different in every state, and you will need to check with your state.
  • FBN/DBAs make it easy to track down businesses and associate their names with the owners.
  • Most states require fees at a local level, a search to prove your name is unique, and publication of a notice, usually a locally available newspaper surfices.
  • Locate the appropriate office or website to obtain the necessary forms, and pay the fees. We’ve provided a state by state links page to get you started. Click here.


There many on-line sites and businesses offering to do the paperwork for you–at approximately double (or more) the cost of going through the steps yourself. If start-up costs are a consideration, go stand in line and save your money.

At renewal time, (every 5 years in California) these companies may contact you via letter offering to complete your paper work for an outrageous fee, in part counting on business owners’ belief that he has to republish his FBN in a general circulation newspaper, even when there have no changes to ownerships, name or location.

These companies may look like official state or county notices. We aware!


Notice the differences between the State of California legal code governing FBNs and 2 Southern California counties.


In addition, you will need a business license issued by all cities and local area in which you will be conducting business. Without it, the local authorities can shut your business down.

Going through the FBN/DBA process typically brings a new business owner into contact with governmental powers for the  first time.  Was it confusing, easier than you expected or relatively uneventful for you? Please tell us about it with a comment or email

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