How to Search for a Fictitious Business Name

By Krystal Wascher
Contact your state's business filing office to find out if a fictitious business name is available.

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A fictitious business or "Doing Business As" name is one that is different from the owner's or partner's names in a sole proprietorship or partnership, or different from the business name on file with a state in the case of a limited liability company or corporation. Fictitious business name applications are always filed with the state in which the business operates. A fictitious business name is useful in the case of a sole proprietorship or partnership if you would like to use a name that is different from your own. For example, fictitious names can help describe the business that you are operating, establish a trademark, or create brand recognition for your company. Corporations often use fictitious names to create a sub-entity of an original company. If you plan on filing for a fictitious business name and want to see if a name is available, or are searching for additional information on a current business operating under a fictitious name, you must follow several steps.

Determine the state in which you will conduct your search. Business filings are governed on the state level, rather than federal. If you plan to file for a fictitious business name, you will need to perform your search in the state where your business is or will be located. Similarly, if you are looking for information on a previously established business, you will need to find the location of that business's main office.

Find the contact information for the applicable state's Secretary of State or Business Filing Office. Each state has a specific department that handles corporate and business matters, including fictitious or "DBA" names. See the "State Filing Offices" link in the "Resources" section below to locate your state's filing office.

Check to see if you can perform a fictitious name search on your state's business filing office or Secretary of State website. Many states now offer this service and using it will save you the time and hassle of using other means to acquire the information. If your state does not provide this service, you can contact your state's business filing office by calling the telephone number listed on its website. Telephone numbers can usually be found by clicking the "Contact" option that is present on most state's websites.

About the Author

Krystal Wascher has been writing online content since 2008. She received her Bachelor of Arts in political science and philosophy from Thiel College and a Juris Doctor from Duquesne University School of Law. She was admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar in 2009.