How to file a fictitious business name statement in California’s Riverside County and San Bernardino County

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

One of the most popular searches right now is people trying to figure out how to file  a fictitious business name statement in California.  California Business and Professions Code section 17910 requires every person who regularly transacts business in the State of California to do all of the following:

1) File a fictitious business name statement within forty days of commencement of transacting business (California  Business and Professions Code section 17910(a));

2) File a new statement after any change in facts (California  Business and Professions Code section 17910(b)); and

3) File a new statement when refiling a fictitious business statement (California  Business and Professions Code section 17910(c)).

First, what is a fictitious business name?  It is sometimes called a “dba” or “DBA” which stands for “doing business as.”   For example, business entities are sometimes named something consumer unfriendly, such as XYZ Corporation.  To do business with the public, XYZ Corporation adopts the fictitious business name of Joe’s Hot Dog Stand.  They are “doing business as”  Joe’s Hot Dog Stand.  Here’s an example from the San Bernardino County fictitious business name records search page.   Last year, I purchased printing for my firm at Citrograph Printing Company in downtown Redlands.  But that’s not the legal entity that owns the business.  If you search the records, you find that Citrograph Printing Company is the DBA or fictitious business name of Citrograph, LLC.

What is the purpose of a fictitious business name statements in California?  One Court of Appeal said that the purpose is “is designed to make available to the public, and especially to creditors, the identities of persons who are doing business under fictitious names for the purpose of benefiting creditors”  J&J Builders Supply v. Caffin (1967) 248 Cal.App.2d 292, 295.  The advantage of using a fictitious business name for a business is that it lets you have a different name for the legal entity from the name of the business.  The advantage of the statutory scheme found in the California Business and Professions Code is it protects the public.  Fictitious business names do not create a separate legal entity.  Meller & Snyder v. R&T Properties, Inc. (1998) 62 Cal.App.4th 1303, 1311.

Putting aside who must file a statement, how do you file a statement in San Bernardino County and Riverside County?

In San Bernardino County, the place is the San Bernardino County Recorder-Clerk, specifically with the San Bernardino County Clerk.  The form can be found online here.  The San Bernardino County Recorder-Clerk is physically located at 222 W. Hospitality Lane, 1st Floor San Bernardino CA 92415-0022.   There is also a High Desert Office.  High Desert Government Center, 15900 Smoke Tree Street, Hesperia, CA 92345.  The website itself says that you should mail the application in with fees, but it is always better to do it in person, if possible, because you can get a stamped, filed copy.   After filing, you have to publish in accordance with California law.  As it says on the back of the form:

“Within 30 days after the fictitious business name statement has been filed with the county clerk, the statement must be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the county where the fictitious business name statement is filed. The newspaper selected should be one that circulates in the area where the business is to be conducted. The statement must be published once a week for four successive weeks with at least five days between each date of publication. An affidavit of publication must be filed with the county clerk where the fictitious business name statement was filed within 30 days after the completion of the publication. If a refiling is required because the prior statement has expired, the refiling need not be published unless there has been a change in the information required in the expired statement, provided the refiling is filed within 40 days of the date the statement expired.”

South of the San Bernardino County line in Riverside County, you file the statement with the Riverside County Assessor-County Clerk-Recorder, and more specifically the Riverside County Clerk.  According to this web page, you can file in person, by mail, or with the help of a the newspaper you are publishing in.  The Riverside County website states that the County Clerk has locations in Riverside (two), Temecula, Blythe, Hemet and Indio.

Copyright 2011 Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.


A: 300 E. State St., Suite 517
Redlands, CA 92373-5235
T: (909) 296-6708

California Public Records Act, How and Where to Make a Request in San Bernardino County and Riverside County

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

The California Public Records Act is an invaluable tool for individuals, traditional and new media,  public interest groups, non-profits, business entities, and even lawyers and political groups to find out what local government is doing.  This first post has to do with a very brief overview of the Act, and how to make a Public Records Act request.  Private Attorneys especially do not use the Act efficiently, much to the delight of City Attorneys and much to the detriment of their clients.

I have handled Public Records Act Requests on behalf of local agencies, and I have made Public Records Act Requests to local agencies, so I have a good perspective about how the Act is handled on both sides of the counter.  Having an attorney knowledgeable about the California Public Records Act is important if a client is involved in a case against a City, County, or other local government agency.

The Public Records Act is found in the California Government Code.  A Requester can find the California Government Code here.  The version found here is unannotated.  If a Requester wants to see an annotated code, it can be found at most public libraries and law libraries.  The annotated version gives case law and secondary source references.  The Act is codified at Government Code, Title 1 “General”, Division 7 “Miscellaneous,” Chapter 3.5 “Inspection of Public Records”, Article 1, “General Provisions” and Article 2 “Other Exemptions From Disclosure.”   If a Requester is searching manually, the Act is found in Government Code section 6250 et seq.  [“Et seq.” is legal jargon from the Latin “et sequentia” meaning “and following.”  It is shorthand to tell a court, or others, the general location of an some amount of primary or secondary law.]

The California Legislature, in enacting the Act, found and declared  “that access to information concerning the conduct of the people’s business is a fundamental and necessary right of every person in” California.  Government Code section 6250.

While, there are generally two rights, to inspect and/or copy public records, this post will focus on how to make the request.

How and When to make a request to a local government agency in San Bernardino County and Riverside County:

The Act requires that records not subject to an exemption are to be made available “upon a request”  Government Code section 6253(b).  The Court of Appeal for the Second District of California found that the “California Public Records Act plainly does not require a written request.”  Los Angeles Times v. Alameda Corridor Transp. Authority (2001) 88 Cal.App. 4th 1381, 1392.

What does this mean, practically?  A Requester can ask the local government agency in person, or over the phone, to inspect or copy records.  However, the practical thing to do is to put it in writing so that there is a record of the request.  Local governments are collections of individuals, and if the individual employed by the government does not understand the request, or does not write the request down correctly, a Requester may not get to inspect the records in a timely fashion.  A Requester’s best practice is to put the Public Record Act request in writing and date it.  A Requester does not have to use a form provided by the local government agency, but sometimes it is easier to use their form.

Where and to whom should the Request be made?  Though the Act does not specify, local government agencies in Riverside and San Bernardino County usually have Departments that are responsible for responding to routine requests, such as for copies of ordinances or minutes.   In an incorporated city or town, the Requester can usually request the documents from the City Clerk, and it should be routed within the City to the right department if it is not the City Clerk .  In cities with in-house City Attorney’s Offices, such as the City of San Bernardino and the City of Riverside, a Requester can request the documents from the City Attorney.  Likewise, it will be routed to the correct department.

However, the best practice is to request from the specific department that has the records.  If the Requester is ling with a specific department, such as Planning or Code Enforcement, the Requester can make the request directly to the department who is likely to handle the request.  If the Requester is asking for records from different departments, the Requester might want to make the request to the City Manager or City Administrator.  A Requester should feel free to ask someone in the particular city, town or county.  Most local government entities understand their responsibilities under the Act, and want to help the public.  Some do not.

A later discussion with examine how to make a reasonably described record request.

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.


A: 300 E. State St., Suite 517
Redlands, CA 92373-5235
T: (909) 296-6708