Under Florida law, a company seeking to operate within state jurisdiction under a name different from its registration name must file a DBA (Doing Business As). In this article, you will find out how to file a DBA in Florida.
Filing a DBA in Florida – Taking a Closer Look
Conducting Adequate Name Search
The first step to filing a DBA is conducting a name search before registering the name with the Department of State. It is fundamental to ensure that the chosen name is not already in use by another company.
The Department of State website (Sunbiz) has a built-in name search tool by which users can search the state’s business records by owner name or fictitious name.
Please note that there are some name restrictions applied to Florida DBA names. For instance, one cannot include a reference to a business entity (e.g., LLC, Inc., or Corp.) in a DBA unless the company is structured as that specific type of legal entity.
Publishing Legal Notice of DBA Registration
Florida law requires business owners to publish a legal notice of their intent to register before proceeding with a DBA registration.
Business owners seeking to file a DBA must publish the notice using the newspaper in the country where the company’s principal place of business is located. The notice must be published at least once.
Upon the payment of a small fee, the local newspaper will publish the notice and issue a certification showing that the business owner met the publication requirement. If there is no newspaper in a specific county, it is possible to refer to the Florida Statutes.
Registering a Fictitious Name
After selecting a valid name and publishing the required notice in the newspaper, the next step is registering the fictitious name with the Florida Department of State. Business owners have the option to file online or by mail.
Under Florida Statutes §865.09(3)(a), business owners must provide:
- “The name to be registered
- The mailing address of the business
- The name and address of each registrant
- If the registrant is a business entity that was required to file incorporation or similar”
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”
The DBA registration process involves different fees, including a registration fee, a certificate of status fee (optional), and a certified copy fee (optional). It is possible to pay by check, money order, or even credit card (available only in online registration).
How to File a DBA in Florida – Renewal Process
In Florida, fictitious name registration is good for five years. The Department of State (Division of Corporations) will send a notification by mail when it is time to renew the registration.
Upon receipt of the notice, business owners are responsible for applying for renewal. To avoid losing the trade name, business owners must keep renewing their registration every five years, either filing by mail or online.