Do I need a fictitious business name statement?
To answer this question, it is important to understand what a fictitious name is and how it is used. Simply put, a fictitious business name is one that does not use the business owner’s name. Corporations are generally exempt, as are businesses that use the individual proprietor's own name. If you are doing business as (d/b/a), John Doe or Widgets Incorporated, then you don’t need a fictitious name. However, American Widget Partnership run by John Doe will need to comply with fictitious business name rules.
Filing a Fictitious Business Name Statement
Complying with these rules includes filing a fictitious business name statement. This filing is required by law in order to connect the name of a business to the business owner. This protects consumers because it allows them to get information about the owner of a company if they have consumer problems or need to file a lawsuit. Depending on your state law, most businesses that operate under a fictitious name are required to complete a fictitious business name statement, publish the statement in a newspaper of general circulation, and then record this information with the county recorder where the business is located.
Filing is also required to open a business checking bank account in the name of the business. Banks will generally not open a business account without your filed copy of your DBA registration certificate. Note that some banks may also ask you for your business license.
For the business owner, it allows the person to set up a single entity to operate multiple businesses without creating a new entity for each or undergoing the expense of forming a corporation. For example, you can sell your widgets in a brick and mortar location and have a sales website using the same fictitious name.
Getting Legal Help
If you are starting a business and have concerns about whether or not you need a fictitious business name, it's in your best interest to consult with an experienced business attorney.