Are you a Florida business owner who wants to be able to operate your company under an assumed name? If so, consider acquiring a doing business as (DBA) name.
How do you obtain a DBA name for your Florida company, and how are you allowed to use your new name? In this guide, we’ll walk through every detail of the DBA acquisition process in this state.
How Do I File a Florida DBA?
DBAs or “Fictitious Names” are not required to start a business using a legal or registered name in Florida. However, if you wish to use a fictitious personal name, or a business name that differs from your registered name, you will need to file a DBA. This process can be done online at the Division of Corporations website. Before starting the online application, you will first need to publish notice of the DBA in a newspaper from your business’ county. You do not need to provide proof of this publication, but you will need to certify that the name has been published during the application process.
This ensures that your desired business name is available, and hasn’t already been claimed by another business in the state.
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What is a Florida DBA?
For sole proprietorships and general partnerships, a DBA enables you to use a name other than the owner’s personal name. For limited liability companies and corporations, DBAs allow you to use multiple names to officially refer to your business activities.
There are many different reasons for Florida companies to acquire ‘doing business as’ names.
- For sole proprietorships and partnerships, they can make your company sound more professional than simply using your own name. You can also open a bank account using your DBA, which can not only help you keep your business and personal assets separate, but customers often have a higher comfort level writing out a check to a business name rather than to an individual’s personal name.
- For corporations and LLCs, DBAs are frequently used to give the company the option of using different names for separate product lines. Another common usage of a DBA is to distinguish satellite businesses from your main company. Restaurant owners love to do this, as for example it can help a fine-dining establishment open a fast-casual spin-off restaurant without affecting customers’ perceptions of the original location. Whether you want to create this separation for marketing or accounting purposes (or both), a doing business as name gives companies options that they wouldn’t otherwise have.
In short, a DBA in Florida allows businesses to communicate their image and express themselves in different ways without having to actually form a new business to do so.
How Long Does a Florida DBA Last?
A Florida DBA expires after 5 years on December 31st of the final year. If you want to continue using your DBA for more than 5 years, you will need to renew it prior to the expiration date. You can learn more about Florida DBA renewals here.
Should I Hire a Professional DBA Filing Service?
If you’d rather not fill out the paperwork and register for a DBA yourself, there are plenty of reputable companies offering a service. For a fee, these services will assemble the relevant paperwork and submit it to your state, and all you have to do is supply them with some basic information.
Florida’s DBA forms can be filled out online or by mail, so the process is pretty straightforward. However, you will also need to publish notice of the name in a newspaper. Even though it is a pretty simple process, it requires a few more steps than some other states. If you would like to save yourself the time and effort of filling out paperwork and publishing notice in your local newspaper, most service providers (Ex: LegalZoom) charge a fair rate to handle DBA applications.
The doing business as name, or DBA for short, is one of the most simple business filings for Florida entrepreneurs. The process to acquire one is quite straightforward, and you can begin using your new assumed name as soon as the state completes your filing.
We hope this article answered your questions about how to file a Florida; DBA!
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Does a DBA provide any legal protections?
A: No, registering a DBA does not legally protect you or your business. If you’re seeking personal asset protection, you might want to look into forming a corporation or a limited liability company rather than just acquiring a DBA name.
Q: Does a DBA need a registered agent?
A: A registered agent is not a legal requirement for sole proprietorships or general partnerships that acquire DBA names. However, limited liability companies and corporations do require a registered agent whether they have a DBA or not.
Q: Can someone else register a business using the same name as my DBA?
A: Filing a DBA does not give your business exclusive rights to your assumed name. If someone wants to use the same name, and they form an LLC or corporation with it, they are legally allowed to take your name for themselves.
Q: Does the state of Florida require publication of a DBA name?
A: Yes, Florida does require publication of a DBA name. You will need to publish the name in a newspaper located in the county in which your business operates. This notice will need to run once a week for at least 4 weeks. However, you do not need to provide proof of publication.