Register a Florida DBA

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To register a Florida DBA, you’ll need to submit a fictitious name application with the Florida Secretary of State. Before you apply, you’ll also need to publish notice of your intent to register a fictitious name in a local paper where your business is located. Even though it’s just a couple of steps, there are a lot of important details to look out for to make sure you do everything correctly and avoid either failing to register or facing penalties down the line. Below we’ll walk you through every step of the process to apply for a DBA in Florida, along with the potential benefits and additional considerations for your company.

What is a Florida DBA?

When you do business in Florida, you have the option to file for a “doing business as” (DBA) name. Also known as a fictitious name, a DBA is just another registered name that your business can operate under instead of the company’s legal name. You might choose to apply for a fictitious name for a variety of reasons ranging from branding and marketing to simply wanting a shortened version of your business’s legal name.

Whether you’re a small-scale sole proprietor operating out of a residential address or a larger, more formal business entity like an LLC or a corporation, virtually any business can get a Florida DBA. In fact, Florida does not impose limits on the number of DBAs a business can register. Of course, that begs the question: why would you need to register a fictitious name in Florida? We’ll get into that next.

Looking for expert guidance? We offer the most affordable and comprehensive registered agent service in the state, including free use of our business address to help protect your privacy, a suite of web-based tools to bolster your Florida business presence, and the guidance of local experts who can make sure you get your filings—including filing your DBA—done quickly and easily.

Florida Registered Agent for $35 a Year

 

Why Register a Florida Fictitious Name?

Simply put, it’s Florida law to register a Florida fictitious name if your company goes by a name other than its legal one. Without having your DBA registered and approved, your company won’t be able to file lawsuits and might even face incur civil penalties and criminal charges pursuant to FL Stat § 865.09 (9).

That answers why you should register your DBA with the state from a legal standpoint. Let’s look at some of the common reasons business owners might choose to operate under a fictitious name rather than their legal business name:

  • Marketing and Branding: One of the key benefits of being able to register a DBA is that you can add new products and services to your company without having to start another business from scratch. This is especially useful if you have a business idea that builds off your current venture. For example, if you’re operating a bakery called “Berto’s Bagels” and see an opportunity to add a café to your establishment, you can register a DBA like “Carlito’s Cafeteria” for branding purposes. Now you can have both enterprises protected under the original LLC filed for “Berto’s Bagels.” The best part? You don’t have to start a new LLC and pay a whole other set of dues and fees. DBAs are a cost-effective and time-efficient way for business owners to expand their operation by adding new services and products without the added hassle.
  • Protecting Privacy: One of the potential disadvantages of running a sole proprietorship or general partnership is that the business must include the name of the owner. In the case of a sole proprietorship (one owner), that means listing your full name (e.g., if Jonathan Chavez starts a sole proprietorship, then “Jonathan Chavez” must be included in the business name). For a general partnership (two owners or more), the last names of each business partner must be included. Registering a DBA gives sole proprietors and general partners a chance to preserve some privacy by using a name other than the name of the owner(s).
  •  Professional Appearance: You might just file for a DBA because you realize your company’s legal name is a bit of a mouthful or you want to use your domain name on customer-facing documents like business cards. Sometimes you just need to adapt to the times. In these cases, filing for a fictitious name saves you the trouble of starting a new LLC when you decide you want to use a shorter version of your business’s legal name or you elect to make your website the front and center of your business.

Pro Tip: If you’re starting a Florida LLC or incorporating in Florida and already considering potential DBAs, now is a good time to look into a web domain name for your business. When you hire us to start your company, we include a custom domain name, email address, SSL-secure website, and private phone line instantly—basically, everything you need to streamline the launch of your entire business persona in Florida right from the jump!

How to Register a Florida Fictitious Name

All you have to do to register a Florida fictitious name is choose a name, publish legal notice of intent to register that name in a local newspaper, and complete an application to register a fictitious name. But there are some specific rules to follow for choosing your DBA name and publishing your intent to use that name.

Here’s a rundown of what you’ll need to look out for as you complete your fictitious name registration:

Choose Your Florida DBA Name

Choosing a DBA name is your first order of business—it’s also the most important one in our experience. You’ll need to choose a name that is unique and complies with Florida law.

For the unique part, you’ll want to perform a search through the Sunbiz Florida Fictitious Name Search database to ensure that your name isn’t already taken. It’s also important to make sure that your name isn’t too similar to other business names, either. If you choose a name that’s nearly identical to an already registered DBA, then it’s not truly a “unique” name in the eyes of the law. Besides, you want something catchy that stands out from the rest.

As for complying with Florida DBA naming rules, your fictitious name must NOT:

  • Include any business entity identifiers like “LLC” or “Inc.” unless your business entity is actually that type (i.e., if you run a sole proprietorship, you should not have “LLC” listed in your fictitious name).
  • Use words that characterize your business as a financial institution (e.g., words like “bank” or “banker”) unless your business is in fact a financial institution.

Pro Tip: You can register a DBA in Florida, but that doesn’t necessarily guarantee that another entity won’t use it. We encourage our clients to apply for a trademark at the federal level so that their fictitious name has stronger legal rights. If you hire us for service, you can add “Trademark Service” at checkout and our in-house attorneys handle this federal filing for you.

Once you’ve chosen your unique, memorable, and compliant DBA name, it’s time to publish it in the local paper.

Fulfill the Florida Publication Requirement

Florida business looking to apply for a DBA must first publish a legal notice of intent to register a fictitious name in a local newspaper (either print or online is fine) BEFORE officially registering a fictitious name. The paper must circulate in the county where your business is located, and your notice of intent must include the following:

  • Your fictitious name
  • Your company’s legal name and address
  • Your intention to register with the Florida Department of State, Division of Corporations and the country wherein your business is located

In addition, the paper you choose to publish in must meet the following requirements:

  • 25% of the publication’s words must be written in English.
  • The publication must print or publish at least once per week.
  • The publication must be available and interesting as a periodical in the county where it’s published.
  • The publication must have been in existence for at least 1 year.

If your business is located in a county without a newspaper, you may publish with an online press that has a search function on the site (see Chapter 50 of the Florida statutes). Other options available to you are publishing in the nearest county with a newspaper or posting three physical copies in three different places throughout the county, one of which must be the front door of the courthouse.

As you can see, this step can be pretty simple or very complicated depending on where your business is located. The cost for publication will vary by county and publication as well. For instance, Miami Today charges $95 while the Key West Citizen charges $34, each for a one-time advertisement. The typical cost for running an ad that serves as legal notice of your intent to use a fictitious name is between $25 and $150. The good news? You only have to do this part once. But you MUST advertise your fictitious name BEFORE you officially register your Florida DBA.

Here’s some even better news: When you hire us, you can add “Trade Name Service” through your online client account and we handle everything for registering your DBA, including the Florida publication requirement, for $353 total! That includes the $50 state application fee and the cost of running a local ad for your notice of intent to use a fictitious name. 

Complete an Application to Register a Fictitious Name

Now you’re officially ready to register a DBA in Florida! All you’ll have to do at this point is complete the Application for Registration of Fictitious Name, file it with the Fictitious Name Registration, and pay the $50 filing fee. The form itself will ask you for your fictitious name along with some basic information about your business. Once you’ve complete that and signed off, you can file your application in person, online, or by mail. Regardless of how you submit, the filing fee remains $50.

Walk In:
Division of Corporations
Clifton Building
2661 Executive Center Circle
Tallahassee, FL 32301

By Mail:
Fictitious Name Registration
PO Box 6327
Tallahassee, FL 32314

Online Filing:
Sunbiz Florida Fictitious Name Registration

Maintaining Your Florida DBA

Once your Application for Registration of Fictitious Name has been approved, you have until December 31st of the fifth year after registration to renew your Florida DBA. You will be required to renew every five years after that as well, and you can do it all either online through Sunbiz DBA or by completing and mailing in an application for renewal of fictitious name to the following address:

Fictitious Name Renewal
Division of Corporations
PO Box 6327
Tallahassee, Florida 32314

Florida DBA FAQs

Does Florida allow DBAs?

Yes, Florida allows business to register DBAs. There is no statutory limit to the number of DBAs you may register for your business.

How do I get a DBA in Florida?

You can register a DBA in Florida in a few simple steps:

  • Perform a name search on the Sunbiz portal and make sure your chosen DBA name isn’t already taken by another business.
  • Publish notice of intent to use your preferred DBA name in a paper that circulates in a county where your principal business is located.
  • Complete and submit an Application for Registration of Fictitious Name to the Secretary of State’s office.

You will also need to pay a $50 filing fee with the state along with the cost for running an ad to announce notice of intent.

How much does it cost to get a DBA in Florida?

It costs $50 for the state filing fee along with the cost of fulfilling the publication requirement (about $25 to $150 depending on the county and paper).

How long does it take to get a Florida DBA?

It can take about a month if you include the time it takes to secure a publication for running your notice of intent to use a fictitious name. But once you’ve met your Florida fictitious name publication requirement, it’s pretty quick:

  • Online filings can take about 2-3 days to be processed and approved by the Florida Secretary of State.
  • Mail filings can take about 3-5 business days.
Do I need a separate EIN for a DBA in Florida?

You do not need a separate EIN for your DBA in Florida. Remember, a DBA is not the same as a business entity (e.g., an LLC or a corporation). Your business entity will need an EIN in virtually all cases. Your DBA registration, however, is simply a process for adding an alias name to your business entity.

Do I need a separate bank account for a DBA?

No, you do not need a separate bank account for your DBA since it is not a new business. That said, if you want to open a new bank account for your DBA in order to keep your products, services, and/or branding separate from each other, you might opt to have separate bank accounts. That decision is entirely up to you and your circumstances.

What is the publishing requirement to get a Florida DBA?

In Florida, if you want to apply for a DBA (also known as a fictitious name or assumed name), you are required to publish notice of intent to use a fictitious name in the county where your business is located. You must have this ad published at least once and it should run within 15 days of officially filing for your DBA.

How many DBAs can I have in Florida?

You can have as many DBAs as you want and need in Florida. The process to register remains the same for each new DBA.

Does a DBA expire in Florida?

Yes, a registered DBA does expire. Your DBA is valid until December 31st of the fifth year after filing. The Florida Division of Corporation will mail you a reminder to renew your fictitious name, but you should bear in mind now that you will need to renew every 5 years.

Is a DBA cheaper than an LLC?

Yes, a DBA is cheaper than an LLC. However, the difference in cost is justified by the fact that a DBA is simply a registration for a doing-business-as name. Starting an LLC in Florida grants you as a business owner personal asset protection by limiting your liability if your business faces lawsuits.

As far as concrete numbers for how much cheaper a DBA can be than an LLC, the state filing fee for filing a fictitious name is $50 and the publication fee is somewhere between $25 and $150 dollars. So that runs you about $200 in initial costs, along with $50 every five years for renewals.

Meanwhile, the fee for forming a Florida LLC is $125. You’ll also need to pay yearly registered agent fees along $138.75 every year to file the state’s annual report.