Starting a business is an exciting prospect, but it involves many considerations and careful planning. One important aspect of your business is its name. Some forms of business require you to register a business name when you create the company, such as a corporation. A fictitious business name may be required in some cases. In California, fictitious business names must be renewed periodically unless the company intends to stop using the name.

Fictitious Name Statements

If you intend to call your California business something other than its “legal” name, you are required to register the fictitious business name, or FBN. If you operate a sole proprietorship, for example, the legal name of your business is your own name. Since your own name is not likely to bring in customers or inform customers as to the nature of your business, it is advisable to apply for an FBN. When you create an FBN, you must notify the public by publishing notice of it in a newspaper of regular circulation one a week for four weeks.


California fictitious business names expire five years from the date of filing. Other circumstances may shorten the fictitious business name’s duration. For example, if any of the facts in the filing statement change, your FBN expires 40 days later. Some counties may send out a renewal notice. Nevada County, for example, sends out a 60-day renewal notice. However, it is generally up to you to remember to renew your FBN.

Renewal Process

In general, renewing your FBN involves the same steps you took to create it. You must fill out a new Fictitious Business Name statement, file it and pay the necessary fees to the county clerk’s office. Some counties may require multiple copies. In Solano County, for example, you must provide three copies of the statement.

Republication and Other Issues

Renewal of a fictitious business name statement may not require publication. As long as all the information is the same, and you renewed your FBN within 40 days of its original expiration date, you probably do not need to republish the notice. Verify the rules with your county clerk before proceeding. Companies based outside California but doing business in the state should file the FBN statement in Sacramento County.