Florida Secretary of State fictitious name search is the process of performing a search in order to confirm that the fictitious name you are looking to register for your business is available and is not being used by some other entity.

What Is a Fictitious Name?

A fictitious name is a name other than your legal name under which you conduct business. The most common example of a fictitious name is the name of a corporation since it's different from the names of individual owners of the corporation.

The main advantage of using a fictitious name is that it makes business transactions much easier. It enables you to make and receive payments in the name of your business instead of your individual name. You can have a bank account in the name of your business and keep your business transactions separate from your personal income and expenses.

The state of Florida defines the term business to mean an enterprise in which a person buys, sells, or exchanges anything of value, or offers a service for compensation. Thus, you need not own a corporation to register a fictitious name; you can also do it as an individual. For example, a writer can choose to use his pen name as a registered fictitious name for his business instead of his real legal name. Trademarks and service marks are other examples of fictitious names.

In order to make your assumed name legally valid, you must register it with the state of Florida. You cannot simply pick a business name and start using it.

Having a fictitious name is considered as a good business practice. Sole proprietorship is the easiest business structure in Florida. You need not register a sole proprietorship business with Florida Secretary of State, but it is advisable to register a fictitious name or Doing Business As (DBA), especially if you plan to obtain an Employee Identity Number (EIN).

How to Register a Fictitious Name in Florida

The process for filing a fictitious name application is quite simple and you can do it online. However, note that you cannot reserve a business name in Florida. You will have to directly register it.

Step 1

Publish a notice in a newspaper circulating in your county (where you have your principal place of business). The notice must list out your legal and fictitious names.

Step 2

  1. Visit the website of Florida Secretary of State.
  2. In the left column, click on “Corporations.”
  3. On the Corporations page, click on "E-Filing Services," and from the pull-down menu, click on "Fictitious Name Registration."
  4. After reading the disclaimer, click on "Add Fictitious Name Registration," which will take you to the application page.
  5. Enter your chosen fictitious name and fill in all other required fields.
  6. Sign the application by entering your name in the space provided at the bottom of the page.

Step 3

  1. Review the information entered in the application form. Make sure the fictitious name you are looking to register is spelled correctly. Once the registration is done, you won't be able to correct even a minor error like a punctuation mark and the only option will be to cancel the existing registration and apply for a new one.
  2. Click on the "Continue" button.
  3. You will get a document tracking number. The page will also display the fee required for registration.

Step 4

Select your preferred payment method. You can choose from the following options:

  • Credit card
  • Sunbiz E-File Account
  • Check by mail

Setting up a Sunbiz E-File Account will let you pay all online filing fees for your business, including tax filings and annual report filings.

If you choose to pay by check, you must make a printout of the page and mail it along with your payment. The processing time for check payments and paper applications is usually two weeks, whereas online registration can be completed in as little as 48 hours.

Exemption From Filing a Fictitious Name

You need not file for a fictitious name registration in the following situations:

  • If you are a licensed attorney and setting up a business for practicing law in the state of Florida.
  • If you are registered with the Department of Business and Professional Regulation and the licensing board has not mandated such registration.
  • If the business entity is a federally chartered corporation.

In addition to these, there may be other exceptions. If you are unsure whether you should apply for registration, it's better to go ahead with the application or confirm with the state.

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