A “Doing Business As” (DBA) registration in Florida informs the Department of Corporations and the public that your LLC will be operating under a different name than the name used by the LLC. A DBA is also called a fictitious business name. It means a name you made up to represent your business. Once you’re done with forming your LLC in Florida, it’s up to you to decide if a DBA is right for your business.
A famous example of a Florida DBA is The Walt Disney Company, which operates its amusement park in Orlando, Florida, as the trademarked DBA of Walt Disney World®.
According to the official Florida fictitious name registration instructions, the only purpose for registering a DBA name is to inform the public which individual or business entity is conducting business by using a certain DBA name.
This guide explores how to register a DBA with the state and use your fictitious business name in the counties where you will operate. You will learn how to select a fictitious business name, reserve one, and protect your business name from infringement by others by adding federal trademark registration as an option.
A DBA is a name that you can use for a business that operates in Florida after you register it with the state. The type of business entity does not influence your use of a DBA. You can use a DBA for an LLC, sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation.
Your business may use the DBA as its “trade” name and perhaps as its “brand” name.
Getting a DBA allows a business name registration even if you do not have a business entity.
Another benefit of a DBA is if the business is a sole proprietorship or single-member LLC without employees, there is no need for an employer identification number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). You can use your Social Security number instead.
A clever DBA may make it easier to build brand awareness. For example, Yum! Brands, Inc., formerly Tricon Global Restaurants, Inc., owns many fast-food brands, such as the Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant chain. “Kentucky Fried Chicken” was shortened to KFC for improved marketing purposes. Yum! Brands, Inc., operates using the DBA of KFC.
DBAs do not grant any liability protection. A DBA is not a business entity like an LLC. A DBA only allows operating under a fictitious name other than your company’s legal name or your name. A DBA registration informs the public about who is using the DBA, and that is all.
Registering a DBA does not satisfy Workers’ Compensation Exemption requirements.
Being able to register a DBA in Florida does not grant any trademark or service mark protection or give you rights over others to use the name if they established a previous use.
Registering a DBA does not prevent others from using the same name in their business efforts. It also does not ensure that you are free from infringement claims by others if the DBA name you register might be confused with their business.
Having a DBA in Florida is not a requirement and is only needed if you intend to use a fictitious name in business efforts in Florida. Registration of a fictitious name is not required to form a limited liability company or other entity.
A DBA registration is not necessary for a person’s legal name or the legal name of an LLC or another type of Florida business entity.
A DBA is required under the Fictitious Name Act (s.865.09, F.S.) if any person or legal entity transacts business in Florida under a name that is not their legal name.
For example, if you are a sole proprietor with the legal name of Joe Blo, you could operate a hot dog stand called Joe Blo’s using your legal name as the business name. In this case, you will not need to register a DBA. However, if you call your business Joe’s Tasty Dogs, you must register that fictitious name as a DBA.
If you decide you want to operate using a DBA in Florida, here are some things you need to know.
Your DBA name must be unique, not already registered, and not infringing on anyone’s rights. Just because you can register a DBA name in Florida does not mean others cannot claim infringement. Registration of a DBA does not protect against any infringement claims.
Certain words and abbreviations are not allowed in a DBA name unless you are permitted an exception to the rules.
Prohibited words include:
For example, if you already registered Hamburger LLC, you could seek to register Burgers LLC as a DBA. You cannot register Burgers LLC as a DBA name if you do not have an LLC already registered, and you cannot register Burger Bank as a DBA.
Conduct a Florida Fictitious Name Search to ensure your desired name is not already registered as a DBA in Florida.
Besides finding out if the DBA name you want to use is available in Florida, you should search trademark and service mark registrations in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO.gov) database for similar names.
Registration with the USPTO gives national protection for trademarks and service marks that overrides any Florida DBA registrations.
You can protect your rights to use a DBA name nationally by taking the additional step of registering the DBA with the USPTO as a trademark. Of course, on a national scale, it is more challenging to find a name that is not already registered.
You can file to register a DBA online, or you may mail in the application.
The easiest way to register a DBA is to go to Florida Fictitious Name Registration.
The fee is the same by mail, which is $50.
Download the application, fill it out, and mail it with a check or money order for $50 to:
Fictitious Name Registration
P.O. Box 6327
Tallahassee, FL 32314-1300
Failure to file a DBA registration is a second-degree noncriminal misdemeanor and punishable by a fine of up to $500 under Florida law 775.083, F.S.
There are no tax considerations. Filing a DBA does not change the way your company is taxed. A DBA is not a business structure.
Many companies find that operating as a DBA is effective, especially as a marketing technique. Whether you use a DBA depends on what your business will try to do. Just be sure to file for a DBA if you plan to start using a fictitious name because of the possible fine for conducting business with a DBA name that is not registered.
This portion of our website is for informational purposes only. Tailor Brands is not a law firm, and none of the information on this website constitutes or is intended to convey legal advice. All statements, opinions, recommendations, and conclusions are solely the expression of the author and provided on an as-is basis. Accordingly, Tailor Brands is not responsible for the information and/or its accuracy or completeness.