What’s in a Name…. a Fictitious Name?
What’s in a Name…. a Fictitious Name?
November 11, 2022

By: Katelyn J. Dougherty, Esq.

Originally Published November 19, 2019 – Updated November 11, 2022

If you’re planning to do business in Florida, you may be required to register a Fictitious Name. A Fictitious Name, also known as a DBA (doing business as) or a Trade Name, is a name under which a business or individual operates that is different from their legal name. Here’s what you need to know about Fictitious Name Registration in Florida and why it’s needed:

What is Fictitious Name Registration?

A Fictitious Name Registration is a legal requirement for any person or entity operating a business in Florida under a name other than their legal name. The registration process involves filing a Fictitious Name application with the Florida Department of State, Division of Corporations.

When is Fictitious Name Registration in Florida Needed?

Pursuant to Chapter 865.09 of the Florida Statutes, known as the Fictitious Name Act, a Fictitious Name Registration is required if:

  1. An individual (or individuals) wish to start a business, but don’t want to form a business entity with the Florida Department of State (this venture would be deemed a sole proprietorship or partnership);
  2. An individual decides to operate a business under a name other than his/her/their personal legal name; or
  3. An individual or business entity (such as a limited liability company or corporation) chooses to operate its business under a name other than the entity name registered with the Florida Department of State.

For example, our office operates under the fictitious name Harbour Business Law, while the entity name registered with the Florida Department of State is Katelyn J. Dougherty, PLLC.

Additionally, effective July 1, 2017, a fictitious name registration may not be renewed if the registered name contains a business entity suffix or indicator such as Corp., Inc., LLC, P.A., and the like. For example, ABC Creative Publishing, LLC, would result in the denial of the fictitious name registration, whereas ABC Creative Publishing would result in a valid fictitious name registration.

Why are Fictitious Name Registrations Needed?

Fictitious Name Registrations are needed for several reasons:

  1. Compliance: Fictitious Name Registration is a legal requirement in Florida, and failure to comply can result in penalties, fines, or even legal action.
  2. Transparency: Fictitious Name Registration helps to ensure transparency and prevent fraud by requiring businesses to operate under a name that is registered and traceable to the business owner. Fictitious Name Registrations create a public record of the identity of the business owner, and can act as a notice to creditors as to the person, persons, or entities with whom they are doing business.
  3. Branding: Registering a Fictitious Name can help businesses build their brand and make it easier for customers to identify and remember them.
  4. Banking and Financing: Registering a Fictitious Name can be essential for opening a business bank account, applying for financing, or obtaining a business license if you operate under that name and not your legal entity name. A Fictitious Name Registration also allows the individual or business to open bank accounts, accept payments, advertise, etc., under that name.

How to Register a Fictitious Name in Florida?

To register a Fictitious Name in Florida, follow these steps:

  1. Choose a Name: Choose a name that is not already registered and does not violate any state or federal laws.
  2. Publish a Notice: If you are registering a Fictitious Name, you must publish a notice in a newspaper in the county where the business is located.
  3. File the Application: File a Fictitious Name application with the Florida Department of State, Division of Corporations. The application can be filed online or by mail.
  4. Pay the Fee: Pay the registration fee, which is currently $50 for the initial registration and $50 for each renewal.

What Happens After a Fictitious Name is Registered in Florida?

Successful Fictitious Name Registrations are valid for five years, expiring on December 31st of the fifth year following registration.

For example, if a fictitious name was registered on October 22, 2018, it will expire on December 31, 2023. Renewals may be filed between January 1st and December 31st of the fifth year.

The Florida Department of State sends out renewal notices in the renewal year to the most recent email address on file. However, failure to receive the statement of renewal does not provide the applicant with an exemption or extension to the registration renewal requirements. Therefore, it is important to calendar the expiration date as it can be forgotten very easily, and the email notification could go unseen.

If the fictitious name renewal is not filed by December 31st of the fifth year, the fictitious name registration expires, and a new registration must be submitted (along with a new fictitious name notice publication in the county in which the principal place of business will be located).

Additionally, if a change of business ownership occurs as the result of the sale or a merger of the business, the new owners must file a cancellation and re-registration within 30 days of the change of ownership.

In conclusion, Fictitious Name Registrations are an important legal requirement for businesses in Florida. If you’re starting a business in Florida, it’s important to follow the registration process and ensure that you’re in compliance with all state and federal laws.

For more information about your Fictitious Name Registrations, or to register a fictitious name for your business, please contact our office at dba@harbourbusinesslaw.com.


This Blog was written by Founding Attorney, Katelyn Dougherty.

DISCLAIMER: This blog is for educational purposes only and does not offer nor substitute legal advice. This blog does not establish an attorney-client relationship and is not for advertising or solicitation purposes. Any of the content contained herein shall not be used to make any decision without first consulting an attorney. The hiring of an attorney is an important decision not to be based on advertisements or blogs. Harbour Business Law expressly disclaims any and all liability in regard to any actions, or lack thereof, based on any contents of this blog.


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