The County Clerk is responsible for determining the acceptability, not the legal sufficiency of documents presented for filing. Questions regarding the legal sufficiency of any document should be referred to an attorney.
The following is a short summary of Business and Professions Code. For the complete code, click here.
A fictitious business name shall be filed within 40 days of first transacting business. Once registered, it is effective for 5 years. The fictitious business name will need to be re-registered prior to the date of expiration or if there are changes to the filed statement; except the change of a residence address.
Once a Fictitious Business Name Statement is filed, it must be published in an adjudicated newspaper one day per week for four consecutive weeks. Publication must start within 30 days of filing the statement with the County Clerk's Office.
Check the Fictitious Business Name index to determine if the selected name is a business name that is the same or is similar to one already on file.
In the case of a business owned by an individual, a "fictitious business name" is any name that does not include the last name (surname) of the owner, or which implies additional owners (such as "Company," "and Company," "and Sons," "Associates," etc.)
In the case of a corporation, limited liability company or limited partnership, a fictitious business name is any name other than the exact name that is on record with the Secretary of the State's Office.
California law requires that FBN's are filed at the County level; there is no State-wide registry or national registry.
Name Publication Requirements
The registrant will publish the statement once a week for four consecutive weeks in a legally adjudicated newspaper of general circulation in the county where the fictitious business name is filed.
The first publication of the statement must appear in the newspaper within 30 days from the filing date or it becomes obsolete and must be refiled again with another filing fee.
If the county has no newspaper of general circulation, it will be published in an adjoining county. If the registrant does not have a place of business in the state, publication will be made in Sacramento City.
An affidavit of publication shall be filed with the County Clerk where the fictitious business name statement was filed within 30 days after the completion of the publication.
For more details see Fictitious Business Name Publication Requirements
Place of Filing
The Fictitious Business Name Statement shall be filed with the clerk of the county in which the registrant has his or her principal place of business in this state or, if the registrant has no place of business in this state, with the Clerk of Sacramento County.
Nothing shall preclude a person from filing a Fictitious Business Name Statement in a county other than where the principal place of business is located, as long as, the requirement as stated above are also met.
Unless the statement expires earlier, a Fictitious Business Name Statement expires five years from the date it was filed in the Office of the County Clerk.
Except as provided in BPC17923, a Fictitious Business Name Statement expires 40 days after any change in the facts set forth in the statement pursuant to BPC17913, except that a change in the residence address of an individual, general partner, or trustee does not cause the statement to expire.
A fictitious Business Name Statement expires when the registrant files a statement of abandonment of the fictitious business name described in the statement.
Upon ceasing to transact business in this state under a fictitious business name that was filed in the previous five years, a person who has filed a Fictitious Business Name Statement shall file a statement of abandonment of use of fictitious business name.
The statement shall be executed in the same manner as a Fictitious Business Name Statement and shall be filed with the county clerk of the county in which the person has filed his or her fictitious business name statement.
The statement shall be published in the same manner as a fictitious business name statement and an affidavit showing its publication shall be filed with the county clerk after the completion of publication.
Withdrawal of a General Partnership
Any person who is a general partner in a partnership that is or has been regularly transacting business under a fictitious business name may, upon withdrawing as a general partner, file a statement of withdrawal from the partnership operating under a fictitious business name.
The statement shall be executed by the person filing the statement in the same manner as a fictitious business name statement and shall be filed with the county clerk of the county where the partnership filed its Fictitious Business Name Statement.