A fictitious name, also known as a DBA, allows you to conduct business under a name other than your own (in the case of a sole proprietorship) or the registered name of your company. You can apply for a DBA when you first register your new business, or you can apply for one later if you decide to change the name of your company.
A DBA can be used by a company to advertise, conduct business, and open bank accounts. When you want to file a fictitious business name statement, you should check with your local county clerk’s office to find out how long the statement must be published for.
The aim of publishing a fictitious name in a newspaper is for informative purposes. The publication ensures that customers can obtain the necessary information they need about the owner of the fictitious name that was registered. If a consumer wants to file a lawsuit against a business, the publication lets them know the person or company that he/she needs to sue.
Owing to that, it is imperative you check with the county clerk before the ad is run. There may be restrictions on the publications to be used, and you will have to include specific information in your ad statement. Inability to satisfy the publishing requirement may render the entity null and void in Florida.
If a business refuses to comply, its members and those interested in doing business with it may not file any action, suit, or proceeding in any court until the statute is followed.
Noncompliance with this statute does not affect the validity of any contract, deed, mortgage, security interest, lien, or act of such business, nor does it bar such business from defending any action, suit, or proceeding in any court of this state.
However, a party harmed by a non-complying business may be awarded reasonable attorney fees and court costs incurred as a result of the non-compliance. Although the Secretary of State does not require proof, it is recommended that you keep your publication documents in a safe place.
If you have created your desired fictitious name but have not yet published it in a local newspaper, you are in violation of Florida Statute 865.09. Failure to comply with a state statute is a second-degree misdemeanor punishable as provided in sections 775.082 or 775.083.
Steps to Publish Fictitious Business Name in Newspaper in Florida
Before you can file a DBA, you have to publish notice of your intent to register with at least one newspaper in your principal place of business. To ensure you do it correctly, here are steps to take;
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Conduct a Name Search
The first step to take when looking to register a fictitious business name in Florida is to carry out a name search. You should make sure that the name you chose isn’t already taken by another company. To conduct this search on the state business records, you will have to use the Fictitious Name Search tool on the Sunbiz website.
This tool allows you to search by owner name or fictitious name. If you have issues using the tool, then reach out to the guide for detailed instructions. Once you are done with searching the state records, the next point should be to check the trademark database for names that have been trademarked.
To conduct a search of the trademark database, use TESS (Trademark Electronic Search System). In addition, consider the name restrictions for Florida DBA names. For instance, you can’t include a business entity designator, such as “LLC,” “Inc.,” or “Corp.” in your DBA name unless you have that type of entity.
Contact Your Local County Clerk’s Office
Once you are done verifying that the name is available for use, then reach out to your local county clerk to find out the time the Fictitious Business Name statement will have to be published. The fictitious business name is usually published once every week for four weeks, but the laws tend to vary from one county to another.
Pick a Local Newspaper
There may be restrictions on the publications to be used, and you will have to include specific information in your ad statement.
It is imperative you reach out to your local county clerk for verifications. Most often, the Fictitious Business Name statement will need to be published in a general circulation newspaper in the county where you intend to carry out business. You may also be able to get a list of acceptable publications from the county clerk.
4. Take a Copy Of Your Statement To The Newspaper
Publications have standard formats for statements. So remember to obtain a receipt from the newspaper and find out when publication will begin.
Don’t forget to check the newspaper and search for the published statement to make sure it was very well printed and for the required amount of time. If there are any errors, immediately reach out to the newspaper to make the appropriate corrections.
Take Proof To The County Clerk’s Office
Once everything is done, note that you will be expected to take proof to the county clerk’s office. Owing to that, 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.
But don’t forget to check with the county clerk to be sure that it was received. If it does not get to the clerk within 30 days, you will have to start the process again.
Before you can register a trading name in Florida, you are expected to first publish a legal notice of your intended business.
Reach out to the newspaper in the county where your main place of business is located to fulfill this requirement. Prepare to spend at least $30 to publish your notice. After the notice has been published, you should be able to obtain a certificate from the newspaper proving that you met the publication requirements.