If you plan to start a business in Florida, you should know the legal requirements that apply to you. Many people who want to conduct business in the state must register a fictitious name before doing so.
The Florida Secretary of State website provides information that may help you understand fictitious names and if you need one to carry out your entrepreneurial efforts.
Defining a fictitious name under law
A fictitious name for business purposes is your “doing business as” name or “dba.” If you start a sole proprietorship, your fictitious name is different than your own personal name.
In the event you create a business that is its own legal entity, your fictitious name will be separate from the name of your enterprise. A person or a company can use this name to carry out business transactions.
Exceptions under the law
Registering a fictitious name is not always necessary. The state exempts you if you are a licensed attorney seeking to create a law practice. Other exceptions apply if you have formed an active legal business entity or a federally chartered corporation that is not carrying out business under another name.
You may also be exempt if you have registered with the state Department of Business and Professional Regulation. In some cases, a licensing board does not mandate a fictitious name for a licensed professional to do business.
It is important to know when you need a fictitious name since failing to register one when required is punishable as a second degree misdemeanor. However, you may hold on to a fictitious name for at least five years and even renew it, so once you have registered one, it can be useful for years to come.