How to Set Up a DBA in California

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A DBA name, also called a fictitious or assumed name, grants an individual or company the right to do business under a name other than the individual's or company's legal name. California provides entrepreneurs with a relatively simple and straightforward process for setting up a DBA, which can be accomplished through the mail or in person in your county of residence. Setting up a DBA can lead to a successful career as a self-employed individual, or it can be the first step in building a larger organization.

Come up with a business name to register as your DBA. According to the California Secretary of State, business names in California cannot closely resemble existing business names or mislead the public. If there is already a business named “Tina's Dogs,” for example, the name “Tina's Dogz” would not likely be accepted. Likewise, the name “Tina's Dogs” would not be acceptable for a DBA registered to sell real estate.

Read More: Can You Have More Than One DBA for a California Corporation?

Check your chosen name against the California Secretary of State's online database of registered business names to see whether it is available. If your first choice is not available, go back to the drawing board and choose a new name altogether, and perform the search again.

Contact your local county clerk's office and request a Fictitious Name Statement form. Your county may provide a form online that you can print at home, or you may have to visit the county clerk's office in person.

File your Fictitious Name Statement. Although the specific formats vary between counties, the required information is virtually the same. Be ready to list your desired DBA name and business address, as well as your personal contact information and legal name. After filling out the information, sign the bottom of the form.

Submit the DBA filing fee along with your Fictitious Name Statement. Check with your county clerk's office to determine the fee charged in your county, since fees differ among California counties. Placer County, for example, charges $30 for one fictitious name assigned to one entity, and an additional $5.50 for additional names or entities, whereas Los Angeles County charges $26 for the first name and entity, and $5 for each additional name and entity.

Publish notice of your DBA registration in a newspaper of general circulation in your county of residence once per week for four consecutive weeks. Check with your county clerk's office to determine if there is a specific list of approved publications in which to meet this requirement. Check with the publication when placing your notice to ensure that it will file an affidavit with the county clerk upon completion.


  • Begin to use your DBA name immediately after filing your fictitious name statement and submitting the fee; the state of California does not require DBA filers to wait until after the four-week publication process to begin using a DBA.