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What is a Fictitious Name?

A fictitious name, otherwise known as a D/B/A, is a name other than the legal name of a person or a corporation. A corporation can use fictitious names to differentiate and brand segments of a business all under one legal structure. An individual can also use fictitious names to operate one or more businesses without creating a separate legal entity. The businesses would generally be known by their fictitious names, but the legally responsible party would be the individual or corporation owning those businesses.

Any name, other than the legal name of an entity (individual or corporate) used to conduct business in the state of Florida, has to be registered. Registration of a fictitious name is for public notice only, and gives no rights to own or use the name registered, nor does it affect trademark, service mark, trade name, or corporate name rights previously acquired by others in the same or a similar name. Registration under this section does not reserve a fictitious name against future use. Accordingly more than one legal entity can register and use the same fictitious name.

The state of Florida accepts the filers typed name as an electronic signature for purposes of filing documents on-line. Electronic signatures have the same legal effect as original signatures. Typing in someone’s name/signature without their permission constitutes forgery.

Fictitious names are valid for 5 years and expire on December 31st of the fifth year. A fictitious name can be renewed between July 1st and December 31st of the fifth year. Once a registration expires, it can no longer be renewed. In order to continue using the name a new registration must be filed
Things to Consider

  • Public Notification is required in Florida to use a fictitious name. The name to be registered must be advertised in a newspaper in the county where the principal place of business will be located. By signing the registration document, the person registering the fictitious name certifies that the name has been advertised as required.
  • Registration of a fictitious name does not provide limited liability protection. A sole proprietor who needs to protect person assets from business debts should consider the single member LLC as an alternative.
  • Registering a fictitious name gives no trade or service mark protection. There is a separate process for registration of trade and service marks.