All You Need to Know About Fictitious Business Names

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Do you think fiction is all about mythical characters in books?

Many authors in the early times wrote under a pen name, or a fictitious name that they made up. Now, replace authors with entrepreneurs or business owners, and replace literary works with your company.

You might be curious: How does fiction fit into the business arena? What is a fictitious business name? Why should you even put any extra effort to get one? Don’t worry! This article will answer all your small and big doubts with factual information, definitions, and tips.

What Is a Fictitious Business Name?

When some think of a business idea, they tend to not give much thought to the company’s name. However, business names are such an important part of brand identity. When you do start thinking of a good name, you have two choices:

If you are the sole owner, you can title your business entity off of your own name. It does not qualify as a fictitious business name (or FBN) if you choose to call it your full name.

The other option, of course, is that you can skip this and create an FBN.

The fictitious business name definition is: “Any title that does not include the owner’s whole name [middle or last name] or indicates the presence of additional owners [as indicated by the company, associates, etc.]”.

If you’re forming a sole proprietorship or partnership and wish to operate under a name other than your own, you automatically will be filing a fictitious business name. Fictitious business names also may be referred to as “doing business as” (or DBA) or by a trading name. As the term suggests, it is the name your business assumes, or under which you conduct trade.

DID YOU KNOW? The number of DBA names you can register is unlimited. You may file as many DBAs as your company requires! DBAs are misunderstood by first-time entrepreneurs as a form of business structure that would give them liability protection; however, this is not the case.

Purposes of a Fictitious Business Name

“Do I need a fictitious business name?” Well, the law requires fictitious business names to be filed because they let the world learn about who owns the corporation. A fictitious name registration makes the name of a company and its proprietor public information.

Due to business owners making up fictitious business names, they can be anything they want. For example, the name might be a snappy and memorable marketing phrase or a professional nickname that denotes status.

If you’re a sole owner or are in a partnership, “doing business as” (DBA) allows you to sell your business under a more creative and branded name you’re allowed to use legally. It allows a sole business owner or partnership to use a preferred business name without the hassle and expense of organizing a formal business structure.

In addition, DBAs allow you to create a professional business brand with a name that will resonate with consumers without having to go through the formalities of founding an LLC or incorporating your company. You can register a business bank account to receive and make payments on behalf of the company. Before processing your request to create an account in your business name, banks may ask for a copy of your certificate of the fictitious name.

Finally, DBAs can assist you with keeping expenditures under control and reducing the quantity of documentation and compliance duties connected with expansion.

DID YOU KNOW? Since FBNs give you a chance to create a unique identity, you can even establish a trademark and become a global brand. Let us help you find everything you need to know about how to trademark a company name.

Key Takeaways

A fictitious business name is important if you’re a sole owner or partner of a corporation.
Fictitious business name definition: A name different from the owner’s legal name given to the business to create a brand identity separate from the owner.
The fictitious business name also goes by the terms assumed name, trade name, and “doing business as” (DBA).
One of the best advantages of DBA is that it allows owners to register their business under an assumed name to achieve privacy and security.
FBNs does not give you any liability protection if you are the only owner.

Who Can Benefit From Registering for an FBN?

When it comes to fictitious business names, owners must decide what to call their company depending on the goals of the business. Brand awareness, marketing, and advertising strategies are only a few of the various causes. There are some major reasons for businesses to get various advantages of a DBA, though.

Sole Proprietors

If your firm has a different name than your own, you’ll need a fictitious business name certification if you’re operating by yourself. Registering for an FBN provides loads of benefits when it comes to privacy. It gives an extra layer of secrecy by preventing their name from being used in ordinary commercial activities.

You can register an unlimited number of FBNs. Businesses frequently have various divisions that provide significantly diverse sorts of goods or services. Choose a name that represents the product or service to identify these divisions.

Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) and Corporations

When you establish your company, you are forming a legal unit separate from yourself. This means you’ll be free of any personal liabilities arising from your company.

A limited liability company (LLC) is a cross between a corporation and a single proprietorship. Does an LLC need a fictitious business name? LLC owners, like those of a corporation, are not personally liable for their liabilities. The company will also cease to exist if the owner dies or the company declares bankruptcy. You can learn more about how to create a successful LLC by utilizing the top-rated LLC service.

The fictitious name becomes the corporation’s legal name after it is registered with the county clerk or another approving body, and it is used in all official documents. So, if you ask us, “Do I need a fictitious business name for my LLC?” we’ll say that you sure do!

You can utilize fictitious names instead of founding different corporations or spin-offs if you already have a corporation or LLC. For each firm you intend to start, you register a fictitious name. As subsidiary firms develop and grow, the parent company functions as an anchor.

DID YOU KNOW? A limited liability company doesn’t have to file a corporate tax return. Read more on ‘How exactly LLCs are taxed?’ to understand all the benefits that come from this.

How to Get a Fictitious Name Certificate

A fictitious name certificate is a legal document that shows a firm’s operating name, rather than its legal name. Unless a corporation is registered with the Secretary of State, no FBN can contain the terms “Inc.,” “corporation,” “incorporation,” or “Corp.”

The process of getting a fictitious name certificate varies as per the guidelines of different states. In some states, you might have to register your FBN with a fee, and in some others, the procedure extends to other steps.

  • Name Search

The first step is to conduct a search to determine if that name is already taken. Many county clerk offices provide a paid fictitious name cost service; this is cost-effective and convenient to conduct your search with.

  • Filing an Application

The next thing you’ll have to do is to apply. Applications are available to download on your county’s official website. After copying, you’ll have to fill it out and mail it to the office address, or physically go to submit it. Most county offices also take an application filing fee which would depend on their set costs.

  • Announcing the Name Publicly (In Local Newspapers)

The last step is announcing your chosen and registered FBN in the local newspaper if required. There could be various instances where this step is not necessary, however.

DID YOU KNOW? Each state has its own set of rules for firms operating under a fictitious name. This also means that there can be different legal consequences, such as harsh penalties, for not filing a DBA. You might need some of the popular registered agents to keep everything on track in terms of legalities!

Filing a Fictitious Business Name

You should file your DBA with a bank if you want to create accounts in that name. Some states and counties provide you a grace period after you first use the business name, allowing you to file within a particular time frame. To avoid missing the deadline, it’s best to finish it as soon as possible.

To apply for a fictitious business name, you’ll need to fill out some paperwork (typically a one-page form) and pay the required filing cost. The fictitious name cost varies as well. DBAs must be applied for through a state agency; in some states, this is the Secretary of State’s office. In other places, you must file fictitious names with the county where your company is located.

Forms and fees differ from one state and county to the next. As previously stated, you may be required to issue a notice in your local newspaper and then produce proof of publication to the state or county.

Plus, you’ll need some fictitious name documentation. Documents that you would need to file a DBA also differ, but they mostly include the business’s street address, the names of all the owners, and their addresses. If you are a corporation or LLC, you would be required to provide a printed document issued by the Secretary of State that indicates the current existence of your corporation and its standing.

DID YOU KNOW? Your local financial institution will require your fictitious business name certificate to create a business account for you. They can also direct you to the appropriate registration office.

Conclusion

Don’t overlook the significance of securing a fictional company name. You must decide what your assumed name will be, and how that name might benefit your company!

Your business name will serve as the cornerstone for your brand; therefore, it’s important to choose wisely. DBAs allow you to become a unique entity and stand out from the competition with a creative and thoughtful title.

FAQ

What is the purpose of a fictitious business name?

A certificate of a fictitious name makes a corporation and its proprietor’s names public. Certain states require DBA or fictitious business name filings for the safety of consumers doing transactions with the entity.

Is a fictitious business name the same as DBA?

Basically. Doing business as (DBA) is just another way to refer to a fictitious business name or trade name.

Does a FBN require renewal?

Yes. Your FBN registration is valid for a set amount of time (usually about five years) before it has to be renewed. You may need to renew your FBN document if some information on your statement changes, such as the number of owners or your firm address. Check with your county clerk or a state agency to see what types of changes necessitate a renewal.

What does a fictitious business name mean?

A fictitious business name is the name owners give to their business that differs from their legal name. For example, the FBN does not include their full birth name.

What is a fictitious business name document?

Since you can answer “What is a fictitious business name?” an FBN statement makes the assumed name known to the public and connects it to the owner of the business.

ABOUT AUTHOR

I’m an entrepreneur by profession and an artist by passion. I do business to pay the bills and make music to bring the thrills. Thanks to a bachelor in Business Administration, I'm well-versed in all things business. Owning a construction company certainly helps, too, but it also brings out my love for building and home protection.

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