A fictitious business name is a name used by a natural person or entity for conducting business under such a name, which is different from its legal name. In the case of entities, such as corporations, a fictitious business name is any name different from that used in the articles of incorporation. For a natural person, an example is when Jane Doe (legal name) starts a catering business called JD Catering (fictitious business name).
State or county approval or registration may be required to use a fictitious business name. States may also impose rules for the use of fictitious names. For example, in the State of New York, to operate under a fictitious business name, a corporation has to file a New York DBA (doing business as) with the County Clerk where the business is located. Additionally, the fictitious business cannot include words that could confuse the business with a government agency such as the FBI.
It is advisable to understand each state's regulations to attain all required approvals and file the necessary paperwork to operate under a fictitious business name.
[Last updated in July of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]