The law requires that if you conduct business for profit under any name other than your own, you must file for a fictitious business name in the same county as your principal place of business. The name must be filed within forty (40) days of the start of business activity. Each fictitious business name is valid for five (5) years, and you must submit another application upon expiration if you continue to use the same fictitious business name.
Renewing a Fictitious Business Name
Fictitious business name filings are valid for five (5) years unless there is any change in the filing. If there is a change in the information previously filed you must come to the County Clerk’s office or request a form by mail to renew the filing. If the fictitious business name changes you must file a new fictitious business name.
Fictitious business name renewals must be completed with a form from the County Clerk’s Office, and are not available online.
Searching for a Fictitious Business Name
When applying for a fictitious business name, it is helpful to determine if the name is already being used by another business by searching the index of fictitious business names. Fictitious business names are not unique, and you are not reserving the name when you register. If you would like exclusive rights to use a name, you should apply for a service mark or trademark. For more information on legal marks, see the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Any person may search the index and records of fictitious business names listed with the County Clerk’s Office. A search will allow you to determine:
- If a certain fictitious business name is being used;
- Whether an existing business has filed their name;
- The true names of the owners of a filed business;
- Filed date and expiration date.
There are two ways to access the fictitious business names index and records:
- You may view them at the County Clerk’s Office, room 234, Hall of Justice, Marin County Civic Center between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. The office is closed on all legal holidays. Due to processing time, licenses and applications are accepted for filing between 9:00 AM and 3:30 PM.
- You can also view records through our online Fictitious Business Name Search database.
You may request a “certificate of record” or a “certificate of no record” from the County Clerk for $5.00. A certified copy of a filed fictitious business name is $3.00.
You can also purchase a monthly subscription for $25.00 from the County Clerk that lists all of the prior months filings for fictitious business names. However the information available is limited.
Applying for a Fictitious Business Name
Fictitious business names are filed with the County Clerk’s Office, but they do not have to be filed in the same county in which the business is located.
In Marin, the fee is $42.00 for filing a fictitious business name statement for one owner and business name, plus $7.00 for each additional owner or business name.
New requests may be filed online by filling out the Fictitious Business Name Application. You may also obtain a form for filing a fictitious business name at the County Clerk's Office. To receive a form by mail, please send your request with a self-addressed, stamped envelope to: Marin County Clerk, ATTN: FBN, PO Box C, San Rafael, CA 94913. In order to complete your application, you must go to the County Clerk’s Office, even if you began your application online or through the mail.
When filing your fictitious business name, you may also be required to publish a legal notice in an adjudicated local newspaper approved publications. More information on how to publish is available at the County Clerk’s Office in room 234 or by calling (415) 473-6152.
If you need additional information or have more questions, please contact the Marin County Clerk at (415) 473-6772 or send email. The office of the Marin County Clerk is located at Marin Civic Center Room 234, 3501 Civic Center Drive, San Rafael, CA. County Clerk office hours are 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday (closed major holidays). Due to processing time, all transactions, filings, and applications must be presented for processing by 3:30 PM.