Do you need to file a fictitious business name statement for your new business?

A fictitious business name is one that does not use the business owner’s name. Corporations are generally exempt, as are businesses that use the individual proprietor’s own name. If you’re starting a business that doesn’t use your name, then filing a fictitious business name statement for your new business is required to open a business checking bank account in the name of the business.

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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A fictitious business name is one that does not use the business owner’s name. From LLCs to Corporations to non-profit corporations to any other legal business entity, this also protects the identities of persons associated with the ownership of the business. Corporations are generally exempt, as are businesses that use the individual proprietor’s own name. If you are doing business as (d/b/a) John Doe or Widgets Incorporated, then you do not need a fictitious name. However, American Widget Partnership run by John Doe will need to comply with fictitious name statement rules.

What does filing a fictitious business name statement do?

Complying with these rules includes filing a fictitious business name statement. This filing is required by law in order to connect the name of a business to the business owner. This protects consumers because it allows them to get information about the owner of a company if they have consumer problems or need to file a lawsuit. Depending on your state law, most businesses that operate under a fictitious name are required to complete a fictitious business name statement, publish the statement on file in a newspaper of general circulation, and then record this information with the county recorder where the business address is located.

Fictitious name filings are also required to open a business bank account in the name of the business. Banks will generally not open a business account without a filed copy of your DBA registration certificate. Some banks may also ask you for your business license. For the business owner, using a fictitious business name allows the owner to set up a single entity to operate multiple businesses without creating a new entity for each or undergoing the expense of forming a corporation. For example, you can sell your widgets in a brick-and-mortar location and have a sales website using the same fictitious name.

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How to get legal help?

If you are starting a business and have concerns about whether or not you need a fictitious business name, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced business attorney.

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