Firstly, what is a DBA? DBA, also known as “Doing Business As”. DBA allows businesses to operate under a fictitious name. Often businesses have the misconception that a DBA is a business structure, however, this is not the case, as DBA’s are merely for branding purposes and therefore do not provide protection of personal assets.
Filing for a DBA in Florida can be achieved by following a simple three-step process.
Step 1: Start with a Sunbiz Florida fictitious name search
Before doing anything, visit the Sunbiz Florida fictitious name search website and complete the fictitious name search. The requirements for the name search is to ensure that the name is distinguishable from the other registered fictitious names on file on the Sunbiz website. It is natural that often the chosen name will have similarities to existing registered names on the website, but it is advisable to rather choose a unique business name instead. Florida has specific rules that need to be adhered to when choosing a name ensuring that the name does not include any suffixes such as LLC, Incorporated, Corporation, the exception is only if the business structure is, however, an LLC, Corporation, etc. The name should also not include any terms given to financial institutions, including, “bank”, “banc”, banque”, “trust company”, “savings and loan association”, “savings bank”, “credit union” or any other similar words.
Step 2: Publish a Notice for Your Florida Fictitious Name
As a requirement, Florida requires that all fictitious names be published at least once in a newspaper before the business name is officially registered. You need to ensure that the legal notice of intent to file a fictitious name is filed with a newspaper in the county where your principal location is located. This is achieved by contacting your newspaper in the county of your principal location and requesting that they publish a legal notice of intent to file a fictitious name.
It is important to note that the legal notice should include, “NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that the undersigned, desiring to engage in business under the fictitious name of [Your DBA Name Here] intends to register the said name with the Florida Department of State, Division of Corporations, Tallahassee FL and/or Clerk of the Circuit Court of [County], FL. [Your Company Name, Address, City State, Zip Code]”.
To ensure that all bylaws are met, it is advisable to understand upfront what the exact newspaper requirements are, this information can be accessed in detail in chapter 50 of Florida Statutes.
Step 3: Register your Florida fictitious name with the State
Florida requires that you register your DBA with the secretary of the state. Businesses can either opt to file online via the Sunbiz fictitious name website or they can choose to complete the application for registration of a fictitious name form which can also be accessed by visiting the Sunbiz website. To ensure that the form is completed fully and correctly understand that you will be required to provide information such as:
Section one – you will need to list the fictitious name, the business address as well as the principal place of business (county). You will also be expected to provide an FEI (EIN) if this is applicable.
Section four – this section is applicable for cancelling or changing registration, the changing of the name for the registration. This functionality is only available when completing the physical form, unfortunately, the online platform does not have this functionality.
Bottom of the form – this the section where you choose to receive a “Certificate of Status” or “Certified Copy” for your chosen fictitious business name.
Yes, all of this seems relatively straight forward, but what if you find yourself in a position where you just do not have the time to see to the task of filing a DBA, what are the alternatives? Luckily enough businesses can seek the services of a professional that will file the DBA on their behalf. The advantages of this alternative are that they are experts in the industry and it frees up time for owners to focus on other facets of the business instead.