Most Florida businesses advertise and operate under a different name from their legal registration names. State law requires the registration of any business alternative names, permitting consumers to know who is behind the business operation.
In this article, you will discover what a DBA is and how it works in Florida.
What is a Florida DBA? – The Basics
A Florida DBA (“doing business as”) refers to a business’s fictitious name. Florida Statutes §865.09(1)(c) defines the term “fictitious name” means “any name under which a person transacts business in this state, other than the person’s legal name.”
After registering a fictitious name, a company can operate within state jurisdiction under a different name from its registration name. Business owners can file for a DBA when forming a company or apply later if necessary.
The first step to registering a DBA is selecting an appropriate designation. Before filing a DBA, it is fundamental to proceed with a detailed name search to identify whether another business is already using that name.
The Florida Department of State website (Sunbiz) offers a built-in name search tool by which business owners can research which names are already in use by other businesses.
Is Filing a DBA Sufficient to Protect a Florida Business Name?
Please note that registering a DBA does not necessarily protect a business against misappropriation from unauthorized parties. If a business owner wants to have exclusive use of a specific name, he or she must register it as a trademark.
How Do DBAs Work in Florida? – As Provided by Law
Florida Statutes §865.09(3)(a) provides that “a person may not engage in business under a fictitious name unless the person first registers the name with the division by filing a registration listing:
- The name to be registered
- The mailing address of the business
- The name and address of each registrant”
Florida Statutes §865.09(4) specifies that “if the registrant is a business entity that was required to file incorporation or similar documents with its state of organization when it was organized, such entity must:
- Be registered with the division and in active status with the division
- Provide its Florida document registration number, and
- Provide its federal employer identification number if the entity has such a number”
Florida Statutes §865.09(3)(a)(5) requires the “certification by at least one registrant that the intention to register such fictitious name has been advertised at least once in a newspaper as defined in chapter 50 in the county in which the principal place of business of the registrant is or will be located.”
Renewing a DBA in Florida – Statutory Requirements
Under Florida Statutes §865.09(5)(a), a Florida DBA “shall be valid for a period beginning on the date of registration or reregistration and expiring on December 31 of the 5th calendar year thereafter,” counting from the first year of registration.
Florida Statutes (6)(a) adds that the renewal “shall occur on or after January 1 and on or before December 31 of the expiration year. Upon timely filing of a renewal statement, the effectiveness of the name registration is continued for 5 years as provided in subsection (5).”