Fictitious Business Name (FBN) FAQ

How to File a Fictitious Business Name (FBN) Statement

Where to look if looking for an FBN

 

Who must file an FBN Statement and why?
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.).
Examples:

  • "Joyce Smith Catering" is not a Fictitious Business Name.
  • "Smith and Company Catering" is a Fictitious Business Name.

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 State's Office.

A Fictitious Business Name (FBN) Statement is a public record intended to make available to the public the identities of persons doing business under the FBN.   Banks often insist on a copy of the FBN Statement before opening a commercial account to satisfy them that Joyce Smith has a right to deposit checks written to "Smith and Company Catering."

 

California law requires that FBN’s are filed at the County level; there is no State-wide registry or national registry.

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Who is not required to file an FBN Statement?
Nonprofit Organizations or Associations such as fraternal and charitable organizations, churches, hospitals, or labor unions, and Real Estate Investment Trusts having an authorized agent on file with the Secretary of State (pursuant to Corporation Code 24003).

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Do I need to hire a third party to file an FBN Statement for me?
No. Third party "filing services" send solicitation letters to businesses offering to file official documents such as FBN Statements on your behalf, for a fee. Some of these letters even contain an official-looking seal. These solicitations are not being made by or on behalf of any governmental entity. Although a business entity can use a service to submit filings and fees, no business is required to go through another company in order to file its FBN Statement. If you have any questions contact Sacramento County Business Licenses Unit at (916) 874-6644

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How and where do I file an FBN Statement in Sacramento County?
Sacramento County processes its FBN Statement filings in the Business License Unit of the Department of Finance, 700 H Street, Room 1710, Sacramento, CA 95814.

You can file in person or by mail. You can download the form and instructions and mail the form to us with the appropriate fee made payable to Sacramento County, you can call the Business License Unit at (916) 874-6644 and request that a form be mailed to you, or you can complete the form in our office. 

Anyone filing a Fictitious Business Name Statement, Abandonment, or Withdrawal in person at our counter must present a valid government-issued identification, such as a driver's license, State-issued identification card, or passport.

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Do FBN Statements have to include the residential address(es) of the owner(s)?

Yes, State law requires the residential address of the registrant(s). Post office boxes, postal mailboxes, or mail service addresses are not allowed for the residential address or the business address.  

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Who must sign an FBN Statement and other related forms?

An FBN Statement, Statement of Abandonment, or Statement of Withdrawal from a Partnership must be signed by an owner or partner listed on the Statement or recognized officer of a corporation or limited liability company. 

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Do I have to publish the FBN Statement after it's been filed in your office?

Yes, within 30 days from the date of filing a FBN Statement, a Statement of Abandonment, or Statement of Withdrawal from Partnership (unless a Notice of Dissolution of Partnership has been published pursuant to Section 15035.5 of the Corporations Code), you must start publishing in a newspaper of general circulation in the county in which the FBN Statement was filed. The publication runs once a week for four consecutive weeks.

Our office has a list of qualified local newspapers for the publication.

Please note one of the primary purposes of the FBN regulation is to establish your legal rights under the name. If you do not complete the publication process your rights may not be protected. 

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How can I fix an error, add a new business name, change existing name, change the business address, or change a partner on an existing FBN Statement?

The FBN Statement is a legal document and no changes may be made to an FBN Statement once it is filed.  Be certain the information in the statement is correct and complete before filing it.  Once your statement has been filed, changes to the filing CANNOT be made, and NO REFUNDS ARE ISSUED.  If any change occurred in the facts of the original statement, other than a change of residence address for owner, partner, officer etc., a new FBN Statement must be filed and will also need to be published.  

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How can a general partner be removed from an existing FBN Statement?

The general partner being removed may file a Statement of Withdrawal from Partnership Operating Under an FBN Statement, pay the appropriate fee, and publish the form unless a Notice of Dissolution of Partnership has been published pursuant to Section 15035.5 of the Corporations Code.

A Statement of Withdrawal from Partnership must be signed by the partner being removed from the Statement. 

Anyone filing a Fictitious Business Name Statement, Abandonment, or Withdrawal in person at our counter must present a valid government-issued identification, such as a driver's license, State-issued identification card, or passport.

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What if I don't have a location in California but occasionally do business in the state?

The law requires filing an FBN Statement with Sacramento County if the principal place of business is out of state and there's no office or store in California.  

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Where do I need to file my FBN Statement if my business is operated out of state but I have a small office or store in California?
The law requires filing an FBN Statement with the county where the office or store is located. 

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When does an FBN Statement expire?
The FBN Statement expires five years from the date of filing, unless it is abandoned sooner. You must re-file every 5 years, paying the current fees, even if there are no changes. You are not required to republish a renewal if the information remains the same.

You do not need a third party to file a new or a renewed FBN statement for you.  

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What should I do if I am no longer doing business under my filed FBN Statement?
The law requires that you file a Statement of Abandonment of Use of Fictitious Business Name form, pay the appropriate fee, and then publish the form. 

Anyone filing a Fictitious Business Name Statement, Abandonment, or Withdrawal in person at our counter must present a valid government-issued identification, such as a driver's license, State-issued identification card, or passport.

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Does it matter if another business has the same or similar name?
We will file any properly completed FBN Statement. We do not check to see if the name is already on file, nor do we prevent someone from filing a duplicate or similar name.  However, Business and Professions Code §14411 states, "The filing of any fictitious business name statement... shall establish a rebuttable presumption that the registrant has the exclusive right to use as a trade name the fictitious name, as well as any confusingly similar trade name, in the county in which the statement is filed, if the registrant is the first to file such a statement in that county, and is actually engaged in a trade or business utilizing such fictitious business name." Enforcement of this is up to the business, not the County. 

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If I file an FBN Statement, do I need to also obtain a Business License?
A FBN statement is not a license to conduct business. Individuals or corporations that sell merchandise or provide a service for a fee within the unincorporated areas of Sacramento County may need a business license. For more information, contact the Sacramento County Business Licenses Unit call our office at (916) 874-6644 between the hours of 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Please be advised that cities may require a business licenses when conducting business within city limits, even if the business is not based in the city.

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How can I find the owner's name, address and telephone number?
The owner's name and address is part of the FBN filing and is public record. The business name and owner’s name can be searched using our e-FBN Online Search. For owner and business address information, please contact our office directly, at (916) 874-6644 between 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., visit us at 700 H Street, Room 1710, Sacramento, or send us an email request. Due to staffing constraints we will only research three names per call.

The owner's telephone number is not part of the required filing information. 

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What does it mean if the business name is not filed here?
The fact that a name has not been filed in Sacramento County can mean several things. It may simply mean that the company is doing business with an unregistered name, or that it is registered in another county, or that it is registered with the Secretary of State's Office as a corporation, limited liability company or limited partnership, or has the name Trademarked with the Secretary of State’s Office, and thus does not need to file a Fictitious Business Name Statement. 

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How can I find out if someone already has an FBN Statement with a name I'm considering using?
Click here to perform an e-FBN Online Search , or you can call our office at (916) 874-6644 between the hours of 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Due to staffing constraints we will only research up to three names per call. 

You can come to our office at 700 H Street, Room 1710, between 8:00 a.m. and 4:45 p.m., Monday through Friday and look up records using computers available for public use. 

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How to research and locate filed FBN Statements.
Click here to perform an e-FBN Online Search type in full or partial business or corporate name business names, or you can type in full or partial owner name.  You may also call our office at (916) 874-6644 between the hours of 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Due to staffing constraints we will only be able to research up to three names. 

FALSE OR MISLEADNG INFORMATION (Business and Professional Code 17930)     Any person who executes, files, or publishes any Fictitious Business Names Statement, knowing that such statement is false, in whole or in part, is guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction thereof shall be fined not to exceed one thousand dollars ($1,000.00).