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Government Requirements
Fictitious Name Statement Go to topics
Sole proprietors and partnerships should file a fictitious name statement with the county where their primary business is located.

If you use your full name in the business, i.e. Edward K. Johnson's Shoes, you are NOT required to have a fictitious name statement. However, the name cannot imply that more people are involved, i.e. Edward K. Johnson and Sons' Shoes.

Banks often require a certified copy of your fictitious name statement before they will open a business bank account!

Forms to use  Fictitious name form and information for Contra Costa County
 
What to do  1) Verify name and file form

You must verify that your proposed business name has not been filed by someone else in your county. To do this, you must search the county records. Most counties allow you to do this online.

If your name isn't in use, you can submit the fictitious name form with the appropriate fees. You can do this in person or by mail (or online in some counties).

When you complete the form, only register the legal owners. Do not use P.O. Boxes for any address. Ask the County Clerk's office to give you two copies of the certified form for the newspaper and your bank.

2) Publish

Choose a local newspaper (daily or weekly) which circulates in your area. Click here for a list of daily and weekly newspapers. Call and ask for their fees to publish a fictitious name statemnent for four consecutive weeks. Then send a copy of the fictitious name form and the newspaper fee to the newspaper.

3) Proof of Publication

The County Clerk must be notified when publication is complete. Usually, the newspaper will do this step for you, however, you need to verify this with the newspaper. If they don't provide this service, they should send you a notice of completion, which you must forward to the County Clerk. Note: If no one notifies the County Clerk that publication was completed, your fictitious name statement will be invalid.
 
No time? County Clerk's office too far? The Daily Journal will do the name search, filing and publishing for you if you are in one of these counties: Alameda, Butte, Contra Costa, El Dorado, Fresno, Kern, Los Angeles, Monterey, Napa, Nevada, Orange, Placer, Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Francisco, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Shasta, Sonoma Stanislaus, Sutter, Tulare, or Ventura. Click here for more information.

Some County Clerk offices will do a name search for a fee, and handle everything by mail or online.
 
Cost  The fees to file a fictitious name vary by county. Usually they are $20 to $40 for basic filing, plus $5 for each additional business name and/or owner, plus a name search fee if the form is filed by mail. Pay this when you first file the form with the County Clerk. The newspaper fee is usually $40-$60, which you must pay directly to the newspaper.
 
Time deadlines  You must file this statement before you use the name or file any other forms for your business. You must begin publishing in a local newspaper within 30 days of filing the fictitious name statement. If you use a weekly newspaper, some counties require that you begin publishing within 20 days. You can use your proposed business name during the newspaper publishing period.
 
Expiration  Fictitious name statements expire five years from the initial filing date or 40 days after a change in ownership, business location or business name. The County does NOT notify you of the expiration date.
 
Protecting your business name  Fictitious name statements only protect your name from being used by other businesses in the county where your fictitious name statement was filed. If you want to protect your business name statewide or nationally, you must trademark it.
 
 
 
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