Understanding Fictitious Business Names (“FBN”)

By Aaron Aguirre

What Are Fictitious Business Names?

Fictitious Business Names (also known as DBAs or Doing Business As names) are alternate business names that companies use to operate under a different identity than their legal business name. It is essentially a tool that allows businesses to engage with the market under a distinctive brand without changing their legal structure. This post will provide a non-exhaustive overview of an FBN and its role in business.

Why Do Businesses Use FBNs?

  • Branding/Marketing. FBNs allow businesses to create and market unique brands, allowing for effective distinction in a competitive world.
  • Flexibility. Businesses can experiment with different names without a formal legal name change.
  • Local Presence. FBNs help businesses operate in multiple locations, which allows them to establish a local presence in all the areas that they serve.

Navigating the Legal Landscape of FBNs.

  • Registering an FBN. Registering an FBN involves filing the necessary paperwork with the appropriate authorities in the appropriate jurisdictions. Businesses will need to perform FBN searches with applicable government offices, complete required forms, and submit them along with any applicable fees. Each jurisdiction may have their own special requirements.
  • Fees and Renewals. While the fees for registering an FBN will always vary, it’s important to be aware of all financial aspects involved. Additionally, most jurisdictions have renewal requirements that need to be addressed every 5 years. Businesses should stay informed to avoid accidental FBN terminations/expirations.
  • Importance of Compliance. Compliance with FBN regulations is not just a legal formality; it’s a safeguard against potential issues. Non-compliance can lead to penalties or even the loss of the right to use a specific FBN. This makes it essential for businesses to adhere to all regulations.

County and State Considerations.

Variations in Regulations

It’s important to note that FBN regulations can differ between local and state jurisdictions. Businesses must familiarize themselves with the specific requirements in their operating area(s) to ensure compliance.


FBNs are an important aspect of running a successful business. Whether you’re a startup company, exploring new branding opportunities, or an established business seeking to expand its local presence, FBNs offer a valuable tool.

About the Author

Aaron Aguirre

Aaron Aguirre is a Loan Documentation Paralegal at SW&M with experience in the banking and insurance industries. Aaron assists in the research, due diligence reviewing, documentation, and processing of the firm’s commercial lending transactions. He works closely with attorneys to […]

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