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.


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