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A person or company (like a Pennsylvania LLC) may want to conduct business under a name which is different from their legal name.
In such cases, this is known as a Fictitious Name registration or “Doing Business As” (DBA).
In Pennsylvania, the official term is Fictitious Name.
The rules which govern Pennsylvania Fictitious Names are listed in the PA Consolidated Statutes (Title 54, Chapter 3, Section 311).
Is a Fictitious Name (DBA) necessary in Pennsylvania?
Fictitious Name filings (DBAs) are the most commonly misunderstood filings and people often make a lot of mistakes.
Before proceeding with this lesson, make sure you have read Do I need a DBA for my business?
Do I need to publish in the newspaper?
Some Fictitious Names need to publish an ad in the newspaper.
However, this is only required when a Sole Proprietorship or General Partnership registers a Fictitious Name.
This is not required when a legal entity registers a Fictitious Name (and they fill the form out correctly). Legal entities include an LLC, Corporation, LP, LLP, etc.
Note: We have more details about the newspaper publication requirement for Fictitious Names below.
Pennsylvania Fictitious Name Filing
PA Fictitious Name Form: Registration of Fictitious Name (DSCB:54-311)
PA Fictitious Name Filing fee: $70 (one-time fee)
Method of payment: Check or money order
Make payable to: “Department of State”
Approval Time: 7-10 business days
Steps to Filing a Fictitious Name in Pennsylvania
We’ve broken this lesson into 3 large sections:
- Search your Pennsylvania Fictitious Name
- File your Registration of Fictitious Name Form
- Advertise your Fictitious Name in the Newspaper
The video below includes an overview of registering a Fictitious Name in Pennsylvania as well as instructions on how to complete the filing by mail. However, please note that this video was made before we upgraded and revamped this lesson. For that reason, we recommend both watching the video as well as reading all the content on this webpage. The video is easy to digest and has a lot of helpful information, but the written content is more comprehensive and up-to-date.
Step 1. Search your Pennsylvania Fictitious Name
Before registering your Fictitious Name in Pennsylvania, you need to make sure the name does not conflict with an existing legal entity, such as an LLC or Corporation.
LLCs and Corporations have rights to their names and you cannot infringe upon those rights. If you do, the state will reject your filing.
For example, if you want to register a Fictitious Name called “Jill’s Flower Shop“, but there is already a “Jill’s Flower Shop LLC“, the state will reject your filing.
However, if you find an existing Fictitious Name already registered, you can still register an identical Fictitious Name, since Fictitious Names do not have rights to their name.
For example, if you want to register a Fictitious Name called “Quick Delivery Guy“, and you find an already registered “Quick Delivery Guy“, you can still file your Fictitious Name and the state will approve it.
Having said that, some people may not want their Fictitious Name to be exactly the same as someone else’s name, so in those cases we recommend coming up with a new name or adding or changing a word to make your Fictitious Name more unique.
Once you’ve thought of a few potential Fictitious Names, you should search them on the Pennsylvania database to make sure they are unique.
Pennsylvania Business Name Database:
Pennsylvania Department of State: Search Business Entity
Tips when searching your Fictitious Name:
1. It’s best to search for only part of your Fictitious Name (if you have a longer name) to make sure you see all of the results. For example, if your desired Fictitious Name is “Smith Cycle Shop“, it’s best to just search “Smith” or “Smith Cycle”. This will help you find anything that is potentially similar to your name.
2. Leave out punctuation like commas, periods, apostrophes, quotes, hyphens, etc. The state ignores these during the search.
3. You don’t have to worry about capitalization since the state ignores it. You can search using uppercase letters or lowercase letters.
4. By default, the “Type of Search” will be set to “Starting with“. This is fine, you can leave this as-is.
Once you’ve found a Fictitious Name that is unique and available to use, you’re now ready to submit the Registration of Fictitious Name Form to the state.
Step 2. File your Fictitious Name Registration Form
Note: The instructions below are for the mail filing. You can also file online via Business Filings Services. The filing fee is still $70 and the approval time is still 7-10 business days. If you want to file online, the instructions below will still apply, however, instead of mailing a check or money order to the state, you’ll be making payment with a debit or credit card. And instead of your Fictitious Name approval arriving by regular mail, it will be emailed to you.
To file your Fictitious Name online and use Business Filing Services, you need to first create a Keystone Login. Then access the Business Filing Services and click “Forms“. Scroll down to “Name Registrations/Reservations” and click “Fictitious Name Registration” to get started.
PA Fictitious Name Filing fee:
$70 (one-time filing fee)
Download the PA Fictitious Name Registration Form:
Registration of Fictitious Name (DSCB:54-311)
Tip: You can either print the form, fill it out by hand (use a black pen), then sign; or, you can type in the form on your computer, then print and sign. When printing, use regular white paper (8.5″ x 11″).
Return document method:
You can have your Fictitious Name approval returned to you either by regular mail or by email (you must select one or the other).
Enter your mailing address in the first section or enter your email address in the second section.
Fee exemption for veterans/reservists:
If you’re a Veteran or Reservist, we have great news! Due to Act 135 of 2016 (which became effective on January 2nd, 2017), you don’t have to pay the $70 filing fee.
Your Fictitious Name Registration is free ($0).
If you qualify as a Veteran or Reservist, please check off the box at the top. You must also include proof of your status as a Veteran or Reservist when you mail the completed form.
One of the following documents are needed as proof:
- Federal DD-214 Form
- Federal NGB-22 Form
- Copy of a valid Federal Veterans’ Administration Card
- Copy of a valid Department of Defense-issued Military Identification Card
#1. The Fictitious Name is:
Enter your desired Fictitious Name exactly as you would like it.
#2. Business purpose:
In this section, you need to let the Pennsylvania Bureau of Corporations know about the purpose of your business.
You can enter a few words about your business (such as “Coffee shop”, “Real estate investing”, “Life coaching”, etc.) or a short sentence (such as “Management training for the logistics industry”).
#3. Principal place of business:
Enter your principal place of business in Pennsylvania.
This address must be a physical street address located in Pennsylvania. PO Boxes are not allowed.
For most filers, this address is usually a home address or an office address.
Important: You will be completing either Number 4 or Number 5, but you won’t be completing both sections. Furthermore, if you are registering a Fictitious Name owned by an LLC, make sure to leave Number 4 blank. If you enter something in Number 4, your LLC will need to advertise in the newspaper.
#4. Name and address (if owner is a person):
If your Pennsylvania Fictitious Name is owned by a person, such as yourself, then you will be completing #4 (and leaving #5 blank).
Enter your first and last name as well as your address.
The address doesn’t have to be located in Pennsylvania, although it certainly can be. It can be located in any state.
And the address doesn’t have to be a physical street address (although it can be). PO Box addresses (in Pennsylvania or any other state) are allowed to be listed in #4.
#5. Name and address (if owner is a company):
If your Pennsylvania Fictitious Name is owned by a company, such as an LLC or Corporation, then you will be completing #5 (and leaving #4 blank).
Note: There are two “half sections” in #5. This is if a Fictitious Name is owned by 2 companies. This is rarely the case, so most filers will just enter their company in the “1st half” of #5.
Again, make sure to leave Number 4 blank. If you mistakenly enter a person’s name in Number 4, your LLC will need to advertise in the newspaper.
Name: Enter the full name of the company which will own this Fictitious Name. Make sure to include the company’s designator (ending), such as “LLC”, “Corp”, “Inc”, etc.
Form or Organization: Enter the type of organization. For example, enter “LLC” for an LLC (Limited Liability Company), “Corporation” for a Corporation, and so on.
Organizing Jurisdiction: Enter the state in which your company was formed. Enter “Pennsylvania” if your company was formed in Pennsylvania or enter another state if your company was formed outside of Pennsylvania.
Principal Office Address: Enter the principal office address of your company. This address must be a physical street address. It cannot be a PO Box address. This address can be located in Pennsylvania, but it doesn’t have to be. This address can be located in any state.
PA Registered Office (if any): If the company that owns the Fictitious Name was formed in Pennsylvania, then enter the address of your Pennsylvania Registered Office. This address must be a physical street address located in Pennsylvania. This address cannot be a PO Box address.
If the company that owns the Fictitious Name was formed outside of Pennsylvania, then please leave the “PA Registered Office, if any” line blank.
#6. No rights to the Fictitious Name:
Nothing needs to be entered in #6.
It simply states that no rights are given to a Fictitious Name registered in Pennsylvania. Meaning, you cannot prevent other people from using the identical name in the state.
If you would like to prevent others from using the identical name in the state, then we recommend you hire a Pennsylvania lawyer and file a Pennsylvania trademark. This will give you protection throughout the state of Pennsylvania.
If you would like to prevent others from using the same name in the entire country, then we recommend you hire a trademark or intellectual property lawyer and file a Federal trademark.
Note: We do not have guides or information on trademarks (neither at the state level or the federal level), and we don’t recommend you attempt to file one yourself. The filings are complicated and it’s easy to make a mistake, so for that reason, we recommend hiring an attorney who specializes in trademark filings. You can find trademark lawyers on Avvo.
#7. Authorized parties:
This section is optional and is used to prevent business fraud (someone making a filing on your behalf without the proper authorization).
By entering a person’s name or a company name in #7, you are telling the state that this is the only person/company who is authorized to make a filing on behalf of this soon-to-be-registered Fictitious Name.
If you would like to put a name on file, please enter a person’s first and last name, or enter a company name.
If you’re not sure who to give authority to, then you can just leave this section blank.
Enter today’s date at the top, in the following format: “7th day of July, 2023”
If your Fictitious Name is owned by a person:
If your Fictitious Name is owned by a person (and you completed #4, but not #5), then you will just need a signature (or signatures if there are multiple owners who are people) above the “Individual Signature” line. You’ll just need a signature. You don’t need to write out the person’s/your name.
If your Fictitious Name is owned by a company:
If your Fictitious Name is owned by a company (and you completed #5, but not #4), then you will need to enter the company name above “Entity Name”, sign your name above “Signature”, and enter your title above “Title”.
If your company is an LLC, your title will either be “Member”, “Managing Member”, or “Manager”. If you’re not sure what your title is, please read this article: LLC Officer Titles.
If your company is a Corporation, your title will likely be “President” or “Chief Executive Officer”.
Payment and Mailing Instructions:
Mail the completed form along with a check or money order payable to “Department of State” for $70 to:
Bureau of Corporations
PO Box 8722
Harrisburg, PA 17105-8722
Note: For those who are qualified as a Veteran or Reservist, you do not need to send any payment. Your filing is free ($0). Don’t forget to include proof of your status as a Veteran or Reservist when you mail the completed form.
Fictitious Name Approval time:
The Pennsylvania Bureau of Corporations will review and process your Registration of Fictitious Name within 7-10 business days.
If your Fictitious Name filing is rejected:
If your filing is rejected, you will receive an explanation letter in the mail or by email (depending on what you selected at the top of the form). You’ll then need to refile (using a different name) and include the original rejection letter. If you include the original rejection letter, you don’t have to pay the $70 fee again. The rejection letter will serve as a $70 “credit”.
If your Fictitious Name filing is approved:
If your filing is approved, the state will mail or email (depending on what you selected at the top of the form) your Fictitious Name approval letter as well as a stamped and approved copy of your Registration of Fictitious Name. These items will be sent back to you within 7-10 business days.
Step 3. Advertise your Fictitious Name Registration
Important: You only need to advertise your Fictitious Name (FN) in the newspaper if your FN is owned by a person, such as a Sole Proprietorship or General Partnership. You don’t need to advertise in the newspaper if your FN is owned by a company, such as an LLC.
We’ve broken this advertising section into 11 sub-sections:
- Penalty for not advertising
- What are the costs?
- Names owned by people vs names owned by companies
- Advertising after filing is approved
- Ad only needs to appear once
- Obtain proof of publication
- Don’t send proof of publication to the state
- How to call the newspapers and publish your ads
- Example ads for Notice of Fictitious Name
- Pennsylvania legal newspapers
Note: The advertising requirements for Fictitious Names in Pennsylvania can be a little overwhelming at first and it takes some time to fully wrap your head around the details. The following information in the “Overview” section is not very detailed and not very actionable. Instead, it’s meant to “paint a big picture” to help you understand all that’s involved. Then, in the sections that follow, we’ll explain things further, go into details, and provide step-by-step instructions.
After your Fictitious Name filing is approved, you are required to advertise a Notice of Fictitious Name.
- The advertisement must be made in two newspapers of general circulation
- The newspapers must be in the same county where your principal place of business is located (#3 on the Registration of Fictitious Name form)
- One of the newspapers must be a legal newspaper
- If there is no legal newspaper in your county, then you’re allowed to publish in just 1 newspaper of general circulation
The contents of the advertisement must contain the following:
- The Fictitious Name
- The address of your principal place of business
- The names and addresses of any persons or companies who own the Fictitious Name
- A statement that the application for registration of a Fictitious Name was filed under Pennsylvania law (54 Pa.C.S. Section 301 et. seq.)
Penalty for Not Advertising Your Fictitious Name
If you do not advertise your Notice of Fictitious Names, Pennsylvania courts may see this as being the same thing as non-registration.
In this case, your business won’t be allowed to maintain any action in the courts against parties it did business with under its Fictitious Name.
This means you can’t ask for payment, demand performance of a contract, or seek damages.
You will not be able to legally enforce a contract entered into by your Fictitious Name until after you publish your Notice of Fictitious Name, however, the court has the option of imposing a $500 penalty if you do so in an “untimely manner”. And “untimely manner” is not specifically defined, so it’s up to the judge to decide what is “untimely” and what is not.
Going to court is already expensive and time-consuming enough. Having to go to court multiple times will certainly increase your legal fees with your lawyer, and having to take care of the publication requirement (and hoping you receive Proof of Publication in a “timely manner”), will likely add to your stress levels.
We recommend taking care of your advertising requirements immediately after your Fictitious Name is approved by the Pennsylvania Bureau of Corporations.
What are the costs for advertising a Fictitious Name?
The advertising costs will vary depending on the county in which you need to publish.
Since there are 67 counties in Pennsylvania, the fees can vary quite a bit. But usually counties with smaller populations are cheaper than counties with larger populations.
In smaller counties, the fees can range from $25 to $80.
In larger counties (like Philadelphia County), the newspaper fees can be upwards of $200.
Some newspapers charge a flat-rate and some newspapers charge “per line”.
You’ll need to call the newspaper(s) to check on the exact cost. You can find that information below in our list of newspapers.
Does Fictitious Name ownership affect the advertising requirement?
Yes, it does.
The advertising requirement has often been an area of confusion.
For many years, the state took the stance that Fictitious Names owned by people and companies need to advertise in the newspaper.
This is no longer the case.
Only Fictitious Names owned by people need to advertise. This includes Fictitious Names owned by Sole Proprietorships and General Partnerships.
Fictitious names owned by companies, like LLCs and Corporations, don’t need to advertise.
The state has made this more clear in their revised Guide to Business Registration in Pennsylvania:
“An entity which includes an individual party shall “officially publish” notice that it has filed or intends to file an application for registration of the fictitious name. In other words, if there is an individual listed in Box 4 of the Registration of Fictitious Name form [DSCB:54-311], advertising is required.”
Advertising can be done before or after your filing is approved
The laws in Pennsylvania allow you to publish your Notice of Fictitious Name in the newspaper either before the Fictitious Name filing is made, or after the Fictitious Name filing is made.
However, we don’t recommend advertising your Fictitious Name until it is approved by the state.
The reason for this is there is a chance your Fictitious Name will be rejected. If that’s the case, you’ll need to re-publish your newspaper ad, and you’ll have to pay the newspaper fee again.
Your ad only needs to appear once
Unlike newspaper publication requirements in other states (like New York, which requires a notice to be run for 6 weeks), the requirement in Pennsylvania is that your notice of Fictitious Name just needs to appear once.
Said another way, if the newspaper prints every day, your notice just needs to appear for one of those days.
And the same thing applies to a newspaper which prints once per week. Your notice just needs to appear once for one of those weeks.
Make sure you get “Proof of Publication”
Depending on the county in which you publish, the newspaper will send you some type of document as “proof” that your ad has run.
This will often come in the form of either an Affidavit of Publication or a Certificate of Publication.
Make sure to request this from the newspaper at the time you send them your ad text (or when you are placing your order by phone).
Some newspapers include this in their publishing fee, and others charge a few extra dollars for it.
Proof of Publication doesn’t need to be sent to the state
Once you receive back your Affidavit of Publication or your Certificate of Publication, you do not need to send this to the Pennsylvania Bureau of Corporations.
Instead, you just need to keep the Affidavit of Publication or Certificate of Publication on file with your business records.
Said another way, just keep a printed copy with your business paperwork or scan the document and save on your computer or hard drive.
It’s a good idea to have a few copies (both physical and digital) which can serve as “backups”.
How to call the newspapers, get instructions, and publish your Notice of Fictitious Name
Publishing in the newspaper is a bit of an “old school” process.
Here’s what you’ll need to do:
1. See our list of newspapers below. If there is just 1 newspaper listed, you only have to publish in 1 newspaper. If there are 2 newspapers listed, you need to publish in 2 newspapers.
2. Call the newspaper during normal business hours of Monday through Friday, 9am to 5pm. Say “I’d like to publish a Notice of a Fictitious Name. Can I speak with legals or someone who can help me?”
3. Ask them the following (and take notes):
a.) “How would you like my ad text? Do you have a fill-in-the-blank form or would you like me to email you the full ad text?“
Note: If they want the full ad text, just use our example ad in the next section below.
b.) “Will you automatically send me proof of publication after the ad runs or do I need to request and pay extra for that? How much extra will that cost and how should I pay for that?“
c.) “How would you like me to send payment? Should I mail you a check or can I pay by credit card over the phone?“
d.) “Approximately how long will it take for me to receive my proof of publication? It will be returned via regular mail, correct? Should I give you my address over the phone or would you prefer that I email it to you?“
Example Ads for Notice of Fictitious Name
Note: If your county has a fill-in-the-blank form, you don’t need to use the example ads below. However, if your county wants you to send them the full ad text, then feel free to use our ad text below. Just make sure to replace the bold terms with your information.
Notice of Fictitious Name Example (when owned by an individual):
Note: If your Fictitious Name is owned by 2 or more people, you must list the names and addresses of all owners.
Pennsylvania Legal Newspapers
(and general circulation newspapers)
The information below took a lot of effort to research and organize. The information is up to date at the time we published this article, however, the information below is subject to change. If the information below shows that your county has no Legal Journal, please double-check this with the state’s Listing of Legal Journals. If you see the word “none” next to your county, it means there is no Legal Journal. Also, there is a chance that your newspaper’s phone number has changed. If you cannot get through on the number provided below, please google “NEWSPAPER NAME phone number” and look for their updated phone number. Thank you for your understanding.
Note: In most counties, the legal newspaper is called a Legal Journal or Legal Reporter, however, the following names may also be used:
- Jurist or The Jurist
- Law Journal
- Law Review
- Law Reporter
- Legal Bulletin
- Legal Intelligencer
- Legal Record
- Legal Register
- Legal Report
- Report, Reports, or Reporter
They all refer to the same thing though; and that is a legal newspaper which is administered by that county’s Bar Association.
Adams County Legal Journal
Adams County Bar Association
Pittsburgh Legal Journal
Allegheny County Bar Association
Armstrong County Legal Journal
Armstrong County Bar Association
Beaver County Legal Journal
Beaver County Bar Association
The Beaver County Times
Bedford County Legal
Bedford County Bar Association
Berks County Law Journal
Berks County Bar Association
Blair County Legal Bulletin
Blair County Bar Association
Bradford County Law Journal
Bradford County Bar Association
The Daily Review
Bucks County Law Reporter
Bucks County Bar Association
Bucks County Courier Times
Butler County Legal Journal
Butler County Bar Association
Cambria County Legal Journal
Cambria County Bar Association
There is no Legal Journal in Cameron County, PA, so you only need to publish in 1 general circulation newspaper:
Cameron County Echo
Carbon County Law Journal
Carbon County Bar Association
Times News Online
Centre County Legal Journal
Centre County Bar Association
Centre Daily Times
Chester County Law Reporter
Chester County Bar Association
Daily Local News
There is no Legal Journal in Clarion County, PA, so you only need to publish in 1 general circulation newspaper:
The Clarion News
Clearfield County Legal Journal
Clearfield County Bar Association
The Progress News
There is no Legal Journal in Clinton County, PA, so you only need to publish in 1 general circulation newspaper:
There is no Legal Journal in Columbia County, PA, so you only need to publish in 1 general circulation newspaper:
Press Enterprise Online
Crawford County Legal Journal
Crawford County Bar Association
Cumberland County Law Journal
Cumberland County Bar Association
Dauphin County Reporter
Dauphin County Bar Association
Delaware County Legal Journal
Delaware County Bar Association
The Delaware County Daily Times
There is no Legal Journal in Elk County, PA, so you only need to publish in 1 general circulation newspaper:
The Daily Press
Erie County Legal Journal
Erie County Bar Association
Fayette County Legal Journal
Fayette County Bar Association
There is no Legal Journal in Forest County, PA, so you only need to publish in 1 general circulation newspaper:
The Courier Express
Franklin County Legal Journal
Franklin County Bar Association
Chambersburg Public Opinion
There is no Legal Journal in Fulton County, PA, so you only need to publish in 1 general circulation newspaper:
Fulton County News
Greene County Reports
Greene County Bar Association
Calls are handled by Bar Member, Christine Nicole Nash of Chambers & Pratt, PC
There is no Legal Journal in Huntingdon County, PA, so you only need to publish in 1 general circulation newspaper:
The Daily News
Indiana County Law Journal
Indiana County Bar Association
Calls are handled by Bar Member, William Darr of Barbor, Sottile & Darr PC
Jefferson County Legal Journal
Jefferson County Bar Association
There is no Legal Journal in Juniata County, PA, so you only need to publish in 1 general circulation newspaper:
The Lewistown Sentinel
Lackawanna County Jurist
Lackawanna County Bar Association
The Times-Tribune of Scranton and Lackawanna Counties
Lancaster County Law Review
Lancaster County Bar Association
Lawrence County Law Journal
Lawrence County Bar Association
New Castle News
Lebanon County Legal Journal
Lebanon County Bar Association
Lebanon Daily News
Lehigh County Law Journal
Lehigh County Bar Association
Lehigh Valley Live (The Express-Times)
Luzerne County Legal Register
Luzerne County Bar Association
Wilkes Barre Law & Library Association
Lycoming County Report
Lycoming County Bar Association
Lycoming County Law Association
There is no Legal Journal in McKean County, PA, so you only need to publish in 1 general circulation newspaper:
The Bradford Era
Mercer County Law Journal
Mercer County Bar Association
There is no Legal Journal in Mifflin County, PA, so you only need to publish in 1 general circulation newspaper:
Monroe County Legal Reporter
Monroe County Bar Association
Montgomery County Law Reporter
Montgomery County Bar Association
There is no Legal Journal in Montour County, PA, so you only need to publish in 1 general circulation newspaper:
The Danville News (an edition of The Daily Item)
Northampton County Reporter
Northampton County Bar Association
Lehigh Valley Live
Northumberland County Legal Journal
Northumberland County Bar Association
Calls are handled by Bar Member, Debra Moyer of Wiest, Muolo, Noon, Swinehart & Bathgate
There is no Legal Journal in Perry County, PA, so you only need to publish in 1 general circulation newspaper:
Perry County Times (Penn Live)
The Legal Intelligencer
Philly.com (The Inquirer)
215-854-5834 (direct line to “legals”)
800-341-3413 (use menu prompts)
Pike County Legal Journal
Pike County Bar Association
The Pike County Legal Journal is now published by Bailey Design and Advertising
The Pike County Courier
There is no Legal Journal in Potter County, PA, so you only need to publish in 1 general circulation newspaper:
Potter-Leader Enterprise (Tioga Publishing)
Schuylkill County Legal Record
Schuylkill County Law Library
Schuylkill County Courthouse
570-628-1235 (Courthouse phone number)
There is no Legal Journal in Snyder County, PA, so you only need to publish in 1 general circulation newspaper:
The Snyder County Times
Somerset County Legal Journal
Somerset County Bar Association
There is no Legal Journal in Sullivan County, PA, so you only need to publish in 1 general circulation newspaper:
The Sullivan Review
There is no Legal Journal in Susquehanna County, PA, so you only need to publish in 1 general circulation newspaper:
There is no Legal Journal in Tioga County, PA, so you only need to publish in 1 general circulation newspaper:
The Wellsboro Gazette (Tioga Publishing)
There is no Legal Journal in Union County, PA, so you only need to publish in 1 general circulation newspaper:
The Daily Item
There is no Legal Journal in Venango County, PA, so you only need to publish in 1 general circulation newspaper:
The Derrick (The News-Herald)
There is no Legal Journal in Warren County, PA, so you only need to publish in 1 general circulation newspaper:
Warren Times Observer
Washington County Reports
Washington County Bar Association
Wayne County Bar Association Legal Journal
Tri County Independent
Westmoreland County Law Journal
Westmoreland County Bar Association
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Westmoreland)
There is no Legal Journal in Wyoming County, PA, so you only need to publish in 1 general circulation newspaper:
Wyoming County Press Examiner
York County Legal Record
York County Bar Association
York Daily Record
PA Department of State: fictitious names
PA Code 17-208: advertising of fictitious names
Statutes of Pennsylvania: chapter 3, fictitious names
PA Department of State: a guide to business registration
Statutes of Pennsylvania: title 15, section 102, definitions
PA Department of State: business fee exemption for veterans and reservists
Statutes of Pennsylvania: title 45, section 307, penalty for failure to advertise
PENNSYLVANIA LLC GUIDE
Follow the lessons below to form your Pennsylvania LLC.
28 comments on “Pennsylvania Fictitious Name”
Disclaimer: Nothing on this page shall be interpreted as legal or tax advice. Rules and regulations vary by location. They also change over time and are specific to your situation. Furthermore, this comment section is provided so people can share their thoughts and experience. Please consult a licensed professional if you have legal or tax questions.
Matt – this was SO helpful. I wish I saw it a little sooner as I accidentally filled out #4 and #5 when registering my DBA when I only wanted to register it under my LLC. I know I can file a Fictitious Name Amendment (as it was already approved) – but I just want to make sure that doing so right away would mean I do not have to publish in my local newspaper? Thank you so much in advance!
Hi Ali, I apologize for our slow reply. If you file the Amendment, you won’t have to publish in the newspaper. Hope that helps.
Hi Matt — looking for your advice or clarification around if you need to for file a fictitious name for a sole proprietorship that includes the legal name of the owner. For example, does John Smith need to file for a fictitious name for John Smith consulting?
I found this online, but it’s still a bit of a gray area to me since I’m not familiar with the updates to the Fictitious Names Act. “There is case law from Pennsylvania county courts which suggests that the surname of a person, standing alone or coupled with words that describe the business, is not a fictitious business name and need not be registered. However, the Bureau cautions that the cases that stand for that proposition are all non-precedential county court decisions and were based on past versions of the Fictitious Names Act, before many terms, such as “proper name,” were defined.”
Hi Grace, we’re not 100% sure on this. It seems John Smith wouldn’t need to register “John Smith Consulting” as a Fictitious Name, however, the fact that the Bureau makes that statement is a bit off putting. I can’t tell if it actually has merit or they’re just trying to entice more people to file (and pay). Apologies we couldn’t be of more help.
Thanks for this excellent discussion! However there is an ambiguity about who needs to advertise a fictitious name.
On the one hand, the statute (54 Pa.C.S. 311(g)) says “An entity which includes an individual party shall officially publish…notice.” This implies that an entities that does NOT include an individual party does NOT need to publish notice.
But you give an express example of an advertisement of a fictitious name owned by a company. Why did the hypothetical Book Club USA need to make this advertisement where it is a business entity and not an individual (natural person)?
Perhaps a simpler way to ask this questions is simply whether the following statement is TRUE or FALSE: if Line 4 (name of individuals interested in the business) is blank, and the application is accepted, then no advertisement is required.
Thanks again for your helpful analysis of a tricky issue!
Hi Seth, you’re very welcome. Our research team will dig into this and we’ll reply back within a week or so. We’ll check if there were any changes to the rules. I’ll reply back here with an update then. Thank you.
Hi Seth, alright, we have an update: Pennsylvania LLCs registering a Fictitious Name don’t need to advertise. For many years the state took the stance that all owners of Fictitious Names (regardless if individual or entity) need to advertise. However, they have since changed their stance. It is now only Fictitious Names that are owned by people that need to advertise. Said another way, to avoid the advertising requirement, an LLC registering a Fictitious Name should not list a person’s name in #4. Instead, the LLC should only enter its name in #5. Additionally, make sure not to sign as an individual (don’t sign above “Individual Signature”). Instead, use the Entity Name, Signature, and Title block instead.
For others reading this, if you are doing business as Sole Proprietorship and want to register a Fictitious Name, you must complete #4 on the form and you must advertise in a newspaper.
I wish if found this web site before I filed for the DBA.
I was trying to do a DBA under my existing LLC and instead created a fictitious name under my personal name. I want to keep the fictitious name just put it as DBA of my LLC How do I fix this?
Hi Bill, you can file a Fictitious Name Amendment. The filing fee is $70. Here’s the form: Fictitious Name Amendment, Withdrawal, Cancellation (DSCB:54-312/313). Alternatively, this can be filed online. Take a look at #5 on the paper form. You would check off the box starting with “The following party(ies) has (have) been added” and this is where you’d add your LLC. Then right below, you’d also check off the box starting with “The following party(ies) has (have) withdrawn” and add your name there. Hope that helps!
Thanks for the great information on your site! The example legal notice seems pretty long. Our local newspaper charges approx. $11 per line. I was wondering if there was shorter way to put it since my fiancée and I are just starting out and want to keep costs down as much as we can. Any help is appreciated!
– Thanks, Jason
Hi Jason, you’re very welcome! We have two different example ads in this lesson (one for a Fictitious Name owned by a person, aka a Sole Proprietorship) and another if the Fictitious Name is owned by an LLC.
Just to make sure you’re on the right track (since I’m not sure if you’re a Sole Proprietorship or if you’ve formed an LLC), we recommend reading the following articles on our site:
• Do I need a Fictitious Name?
• LLC vs Sole Proprietorship
We’ve shorted the Fictitious Name example ad (owned by an individual) as follows:
Notice is given that John Doe, in compliance with PA Fictitious Names Act, applied for registration of Fictitious Name, John’s Consulting. Principal office: 123 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19111. Party: John Doe, 123 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19111.
This meets the requirements as per PA Title 54 Chapter 3 Fictitious Names (see “g”, Advertisement). Hope this helps! Let me know if you have any follow-up questions
Hi, Matt! I learned a lot from your article but I do have one question and I can’t find the answer ANYWHERE! I am starting an online business. I don’t plan to have a physical location anywhere, except myself sitting in front of my laptop in my livingroom…
I just filed a received an LLC, but now I want to set up a fictitious name. I have a registed agent because I was trying to keep my home address off public records… Can I enter the Agent’s address in #3 and #5?
Thanks in advance!
Hi Sophie, glad to hear :) First, I’d make sure you actually need/want a Fictitious Name. A lot of people mistakenly think they need one even if they’ll be doing business under the LLC’s legal name. We have some info here: do I need to file a DBA after forming an LLC. Also, the Registered Agent is usually just used on the LLC’s filing, not the Fictitious Name filing, but I would call or email the company you hired and see what they say. Hope that helps.
I got a ficticious name a very long time ago. (b4 internet) I just looked up my name and it is the wrong spelling for my first name and I need an address change. How can I acomplish this and is there and cost???
Hi Carol, this can be done by filing a Fictitious Name Amendment. The official name of the form is quite long: Amendment, Withdrawal, Cancellation of Fictitious Name Registration (312-313). The filing fee is $70. You can file this Pennsylvania Fictitious Name Amendment either by mail (using the form above) or online. Hope that helps.
I have an LLC with 2 different fictitious names, one of which I no longer use or need. Should I pay the $70 to file a cancellation? Or just let it go? Is there a downside of just letting it remain active?
Hi Michael, nope, there is no downside to just letting it be. No real need for the cancellation filing unless in brings you peace of mind to close the “open loop”. Hope that helps.
Hi Matt …
Thank you for the great site and info, job very well done.
one question from me: Can I complete and pay for a fictitious name filing ONLINE in Pennsylvania !??
I completed my LLC filing online but I can’t seem to do the same for a fictitious name filing !!
HI Ajay, thank you for the nice comment. Yes, you can file your Fictitious Name online. Just login to PENN File, then scroll down under the “Start or Manage Business Filings”. Click on “Fictitious Names”, then “Registration of Fictitious Name (311)”. That’ll take you into the online filing. Hope that helps!
When and where must I advertise a “dba” that is a sole proprietership not connected to an “LLC”?
Hi Jim, apologies for our slow reply. We will be adding this information into the lesson in a few days. I’ll reply to your comment once it’s updated. Thanks for your patience!
Hi Jim, it took us longer than expected, but our Pennsylvania Fictitious Name lesson has been fully revamped. You’ll find all the details on how to advertise a Fictitious Name in the newspaper(s) now.
Where can I go to get help completing my fictitious name registration? My form was returned. They said I couldn’t have the same information listed under # 1 & 5. Can I leave number 5 blank if I have nothing to list?
Hi Keisha, is your Fictitious Name owned by you (as a Sole Proprietorship), or is the Fictitious Name owned by your LLC that you already formed?
My LLC is filed under: “Perkitech Software Solutions, LLC”. In general everyday practice, marketing, networking and the like, Ive been simply going by “Perkitech”. Under those circumstances, should I file a DBA for my LLC under “Perkitech”?
Hi Yardell, yes, you are correct. You should register a Fictitious Name for “Perkitech” under your LLC.
The information provided was precise and very informative. It avoided all legalese languages.
Thanks for a job well done.
Thanks for the kind words Jon. Glad we were able to help!