Doing business under a fictitious business name is a common practice for entrepreneurs and corporations alike. Regardless of the kind of business you are operating, filing a fictitious business name (often referred to as “DBAs”) can carry certain legal obligations, such as registering with the appropriate state office. For those individuals and organizations in New York looking for knowledgeable legal counsel to understand how to properly register a fictitious business name, this article provides frequently asked questions (FAQs) and answers related to the process.

What is a Fictitious Business Name?

A fictitious business name is an assumed business name used to identify an entity that is different from its legal, given name. Fictitious business names are sometimes referred to as trade names, assumed business names, or more commonly, “DBAs.” There are numerous reasons for using a fictitious business name versus a company’s legal name, including a desire for brand recognition and avoiding confusion with another company that shares the same name.

Who Should File their Fictitious Business Name?

The answer to this question will largely depend upon the type of business you are operating. Generally, any business operating under a name that is different from its legal name should file a fictitious business name statement. This includes sole proprietorships, partnerships, and corporations. Nonprofit organizations and limited liability companies (LLCs) will generally not file fictitious business name statements unless they are registered as a “doing business as” (DBA) entity.

Where Do I File a Fictitious Business Name?

If you are located in New York, you must file your fictitious business name statement with the county clerk in which the business is located. To expedite the filing process, you can do online research to determine the requirements for filing your fictitious business name statement in your specific counties. Depending upon your county and filing method, you may be required to provide your real address, current phone number, your Social Security Number or Tax ID, the documents related to the formation of your business entity, and a filing fee.

What is the Duration of a Fictitious Business Name?

A fictitious business name is only valid for a predetermined amount of time, typically five years. This means that five years after your fictitious business name statement is filed, you will need to file a new statement to renew your fictitious business name. Fortunately, most states will alert you when your fictitious business name is coming due for renewal.

What Happens if I Don’t File a Fictitious Business Name?

It is important to note that failure to file a fictitious business name can have negative legal consequences. In New York, businesses operating under a fictitious name, as well as business owners, can face monetary penalties for failing to file. Additionally, businesses and owners may become ineligible to receive a business license or other permits.

Final notions

Filing a fictitious business name can be an effective way for entrepreneurs and corporations to establish a separate business identity. When done correctly, filing a fictitious business name can provide legal recognition to your company name. Therefore, it is important that those conducting business in New York seek knowledgeable legal counsel to develop a clear understanding of the filing process and the regulations around doing business under a fictitious name.


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