To a lot of people, Los Angeles is synonymous with the glitz and glamour of the entertainment industry, but this city of angels is a lot more. Los Angeles has a thriving fashion industry, a massive food scene, a good number of tech businesses, and much more. For many entrepreneurs in a variety of professions, Los Angeles is the ideal location to start-up a small business.

According to the Los Angeles County Office of Economic Development (LACOED), 45 million people visit the county annually. These visitors coupled with about 10 million residents and hundreds of thousands more who come to the city each day to work, provide an inviting customer base for any willing small business.

Since Los Angeles is more spread out than other large cities, you have to clearly research the demographics of the area to analyze where your business would be a good fit. But just like any other community, the governing bodies in Los Angeles realized the importance of attracting successful businesses. For many entrepreneurs, the LACOED offers incentives that can help you propel your business.

Every business owner who uses a fictitious business name, also known as a DBA, or “doing business as,” is expected to register that name with the county clerk. This is to inform the public of who actually owns the business. In Los Angeles County, the DBA applicant will have to contact the office of the Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk, which has four locations—Los Angeles, Lancaster, Norwalk, and Van Nuys.

Under California Business Code Section 17910, a sole proprietor is expected to file a fictitious business name statement within 40 days from the date the business started operating. Los Angeles’ fictitious business name statement is also easily accessible for free on the Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s website and can be filed at one of the previously mentioned locations in person or by mail.

In Los Angeles, and just like in the United States, a sole proprietorship is considered a common type of business structure that lets an individual start a business without having to go through the rigorous processes associated with business regeneration. Over 23 million people have sole proprietorships, representing about 73 percent of businesses in the U.S.

Have it in mind that the legal name of a sole proprietorship is the legal name of the business owner. If a business owner makes use of their legal name as their business name, they won’t have to register with the state. But, if the business owner does not intend to use their legal name, they can file a DBA.

Since a business owner’s legal name may not explicitly describe the type of business they are running, most entrepreneurs use a DBA to market their business to potential customers and effectively communicate the services or products offered. If the business owner chooses to use a DBA, Los Angeles expects the business owner to register the DBA with the County Clerk.

LLCs and Corporations interested in registering a fictitious business name will also have to contact the Los Angeles County Registrar in the same manner as a sole proprietor or a partnership. In addition, a fictitious business name in Los Angeles County is expected to be renewed every five years. Businesses that use a fictitious business name is expected to file the appropriate paperwork within 40 days of starting the company.

Step By Step Guide to Filing a DBA in Los Angeles, California

Filing a DBA is one of the simplest and cheapest ways to get a business name. In California and especially in Los Angeles, the process is quite simple for entrepreneurs. Also, note that most steps can be completed through the mail or online. Nonetheless, here are steps to file a DBA in Los Angeles.

  1. Conduct Name Availability Search

Start by conducting a name availability search online using the Los Angeles County Registrar website. Note that this preliminary check confirms that the fictitious business name is distinguishable from other fictitious business names registered with the Los Angeles County Registrar.

Complete a detailed search by mailing a written name inquiry letter to the Business Filings and Registration Section, Rm. 2001, 12400 Imperial Hwy., Norwalk, CA 90650. The cost per name to complete a detailed search by mail should be $5.

Conduct a name availability search in person at the Los Angeles County Registrar LAX District office, since there is no search fee when confirming name availability in person. The LAX district office is at 11701 S. La Cienega Bl., 6th Fl., Los Angeles, CA 90045. Conduct a name search Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Pacific Standard Time.

  1. Apply and Print Fictitious Name Statement

You should print an application for a fictitious business name statement from the Los Angeles County Registrar website. You are advised to call 562-462-2177 to have your application for a fictitious business name statement sent by mail. You can pick up a fictitious business name application in person at the Los Angeles County LAX district office.

  1. Fill the Fictitious Name Statement

Take your time to carefully complete the application for a fictitious business name statement. Ensure to provide the fictitious name and location of the business. State each owner’s name, address, and state of incorporation if the business is incorporated. Indicate the structure of the business and sign the fictitious business name statement.

  1. Send to the Appropriate Authorities

At this point, file the fictitious business name statement with the Los Angeles County Registrar. Mail the completed application to Business Filing and Registration, P.O. Box 1208, Norwalk, CA 90651-1208. Deliver the completed fictitious name statement personally to the LAX district office. File the fictitious name statement personally Monday through Friday, between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Pacific Standard Time. It cost about $26 to file an application with the Los Angeles County Registrar.

  1. Publish

You will be expected to publish the fictitious business name statement in a newspaper that operates in Los Angeles County. Examples of acceptable newspapers include the Alhambra Post-Advocate, The Argonaut, The Los Angeles Sentinel, and the Los Angeles Times. The publication is expected to appear in an acceptable newspaper within 30 days of filing the fictitious business name statement application with the Los Angeles County Registrar. Publish the statement for four consecutive weeks.

Requirements for Filing a Fictitious Business Name in Los Angeles

  • Owner is expected to sign (corporate officer if corporation; manager or officer if limited liability company; general partner if a partnership; trustee if trust).
  • Street address of the principal place of business and county is expected to be listed (corporation/limited liability companies are expected to include the address as set out in its articles of incorporation on file with the Secretary of State and the state of incorporation/organization).
  • If the registrant is a corporation, a limited liability company, a limited partnership, or a limited liability partnership, the county clerk will require a print-out issued by the California Secretary of State indicating the current existence and good standing of that business entity; no other state evidence will be accepted. This can be obtained by going to the California Secretary of State website at businesssearch.sos.ca.gov.
  • All owners and their residence addresses are expected to be listed.
  • Filed copy of the statement is expected to be published once per week for four consecutive weeks in an adjudicated newspaper in Los Angeles County (see list of General Circulation Newspapers online or at the County Clerk’s office).
  • The publication is expected to begin within 30 days after a fictitious business name statement has been filed, pursuant to Business & Professions Code 17917(a)
  • Effective January 1, 2015, pursuant to Senate Bill 1467, the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s Office will require a Notarized Affidavit of Identity form to accompany all Fictitious Business Name Statements (Original, Refile and New).
  • Mail-In: Registrants are required to submit a completed FBN statement, and notarized Affidavit of Identity form. Please expect delays in our mail processing due to COVID-19.
  • For applicable Fictitious Business Name Statement filings, the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk will require proof of current existence and good standing from the California Secretary of State; no other state evidence will be accepted.

Fictitious Business Name (FBN) Fees in Los Angeles California

  • First-time Filing Fee for one business name and one registrant: $26
  • Renewal Filing Fee for one business name and one registrant: $26
  • Additional fee for filing for each additional business name and/or each additional registrant in excess of one: $5
  • Search Fee (non-refundable): $5 per name
  • Certified Copy of FBN Search (if the name is found): $2 per document

Conclusion

A thriving economy with an abundant customer base makes Los Angeles the perfect location for your small business. Filing a DBA is one of the simplest and cheapest ways to get a business name in Los Angeles. However, have it in mind that a DBA expires every five years.

If a sole proprietor wants to renew a DBA and none of their information has changed, they must submit a renewal statement with the County Clerk indicating they would like to keep using the DBA. A renewal statement does not need to be published. If any information from the original fictitious business name statement has changed, the business owner must file a new statement with a publication requirement.

Ajaero Tony Martins