One of the most important things for a new business is its name. Peri Pakroo, author of "The Small Business Start-Up Kit: A Step-by-Step Legal Guide," says that “any trade name that doesn’t contain the legal name of the owners” is a Fictitious Business Name. If you want to use a fictitious name, you’ll need to file a Fictitious Business Name statement. Forms are available from the county clerk’s office, but you can also download them online.
Contact your local county clerk's office to find out the length of time that the Fictitious Business Name statement needs to be published. Usually it has to be published once each week for four consecutive weeks, but the laws are different in each state.
Choose a local newspaper. The Fictitious Business Name statement has to be published in a general circulation newspaper in the county where you’ll be conducting business. You may also be able to get a list of acceptable publications from the county clerk.
Take a copy of your statement to the newspaper. Publications have standard formats for the statements. Get a receipt from the newspaper and find out when publication will begin.
Check the newspaper. Look for the published statement to make sure it’s being printed correctly and for the required amount of time. If there are any errors, immediately bring them to the attention of the newspaper.
Take proof to the county clerk’s office. Get an Affidavit of Publication (or Proof of Publication) within 30 days of the end of publication and file it with the county clerk’s office. Some newspapers will automatically send the statement, but check with the county clerk to be sure it was received. If it does not get to the clerk within 30 days, you will have to start the entire process again.
- You don’t need to use the most expensive publication. Sometimes the lesser-known newspapers will publish your statement at a cheaper cost.
- If you want to open a bank account before the end of the publication period, you can use your receipt as proof that you filed a Fictitious Business Name statement.
- The statement expires after a certain period, usually five years. Keep track of the expiration date so you can renew your statement beforehand.
- “The Small Business Start-Up Kit: A Step-by-Step Legal Guide”; Peri H. Pakroo, J.D.; 2010
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