Understanding Fictitious Business Names for Professional Medical Corporation – A Comprehensive Guide on Fictitious Name Permit 

Choosing the right name for a medical corporation is crucial. Incorporation Attorney often guides medical professionals in this process.

Recently, a client wanted to use a different name for their medical corporation but wanted to know if it was allowed in California.

Understanding Fictitious Business Names for Professional Medical Corporation - A Comprehensive Guide on Fictitious Name Permit 

Similar to how restaurants might have names distinct from their legal owners, medical corporations can use fictitious business names.

This article explains the legal definition and requirements for obtaining and safeguarding these names, ensuring clarity for medical professionals navigating this aspect of their practice.

What are Fictitious Business Names in California Medical Professional Corporation?

A fictitious business name is just a name a business uses. It’s often called a “DBA,” meaning “doing business as.” So, if legal papers are filed, they describe the business like this: “Axiom Corporation, Inc., a California corporation doing business as Uncle Joe’s Pancakes.”

It’s important to understand that a fictitious business name doesn’t create a new business—it’s just another name for the original business.

 When John Doe or Company X does business as “ABC Corporation,” they’re using a Fictitious Business Name (FBN) or trade name.

Any business name that’s not the person’s full legal name, the legal name of the company, or a name suggesting additional owners (“John Doe and Company”) is considered a Fictitious Business Name. “Doing business as” (also known as DBA) means the same thing as a Fictitious Business Name.

The laws about Fictitious Business Names are in California Business and Professions Code (B&P Code) §§ 17900 – 17930.

To use a fictitious name for business, the person or company (the “Registrant”) must fill out a Fictitious Business Name Statement (FBNS) and file it with the Clerk of the county where their main office is. If the Registrant doesn’t have an office in California, they can file the FBNS with the Clerk of Sacramento County.

When Does a Medical Corporation Need a Fictitious Business Name Permit?

If a licensed medical professional wants to use a name other than what’s on their license, they need a fictitious business name permit. This is also true if a medical professional owns a company under a different name.

Suppose a group of medical professionals forms a partnership and wants to use a name not on their licenses in any public communication, ad, sign, or announcement. In that case, they also need a permit to use a Doing Business As name.

 For example, Dr. John Smith can practice under his name without a permit. However, if Dr. John Smith wants to be known as “Light Giver Medical Group,” he needs a permit.

Another example is if Dr. Joe, Dr. June, and Dr. Jay want to practice together as a “Joe, June, and Jay Physician Partnership.” All the doctors in this group need a permit to use that name. They don’t require permits if they practice under their names only.

What are the Laws and Regulations for the Use of Fictitious Business Names?

The State of California has required medical corporations to have a fictitious business name permit since January 1, 1980. People planning to use fake business names for their medical corporation should check these laws:

  • Business and Professions Code (BPC)
  • Corporations Code (CORP)
  • Insurance Code (INS)
  • Penal Code (PEN)
  • Welfare and Institution Code (WIC)
  • California Code of Regulations

Some essential parts of these laws related to getting and using fictitious name permits are:

  • BPC Sections: 2285 to 2286, 2415 to 2417.5
  • CORP Sections: 13400 to 131410
  • INS Section: 1871.4
  • PEN Sections: 549 to 550
  • WIC Sections: 14107 or 14107.2
  • CCR Section: 1350

How to Apply Fictitious Business Names for Professional Medical Corporations in California

The Licensing Program of the Medical Board of California will only give you a permit for a fake business name if you meet these rules:

  1. You have to be a licensed doctor or podiatrist.
  2. You have to own and control the business according to the Corporations Code.
  3. The fake name you want to use can’t trick or confuse people.
  4. When you get the permit, you must clearly notice that your patients and staff can see it at all your business places.
  5. If your medical business breaks the law or rules, the Licensing Program can take away your permit.
  6. If your medical license is taken away, your fake business name permit also becomes invalid.

Common Reasons for Rejection of Fictitious Name Permits at the State of California

The Medical Board of California gets about 1,225 applications for Fictitious Name Permits (FNPs) every year. It takes a long time to process them because there are so many, and sometimes, people need to follow the instructions on the application.

The Medical Board wants doctors and their lawyers to speed things up so they can fill out the application carefully. Here are some common mistakes people make

  1. They need to fill out the signature part properly. Every part of the signature section must be filled out, requiring a real signature. Make sure to write the full date when signing. They only accept original and complete applications.
  2. The name they want is already taken or too similar to other names. You can check if a name is available by clicking the Fictitious Name Permit Search link. They don’t deserve names.
  3. The name they want needs to follow the rules. It can’t trick or confuse people or be too similar to names used before.
  4. If someone is applying alone (as a sole proprietor), they must include their Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. They need to include the Federal Employee Identification Number if it’s a partnership.
  5. They need to include the full name and number of their California Corporation.
  6. They must include copies of the Articles of Incorporation showing the company is a California professional corporation. The Medical Board needs to ensure the company is active and a professional medical corporation.
  7. They don’t list all the shareholders; if there are non-doctor shareholders, they don’t say how much of the company they own.
  8. They must include the $70.00 application fee for the Medical Board of California.

Do I need to renew the Fictitious Name Permit?

In California, you must renew your Fictitious Name Permit every two years. It’s against the law to use a fake name with an expired permit under the Medical Practice Act. The permit ends at midnight on the date it expires.

When renewing by mail, you must use the Board’s renewal form and include the right renewal fee and any late fees. It takes about 6-8 weeks to process. Even if you don’t get a renewal notice, you still have to renew the permit before it expires.

You can get forms, details about current renewal fees, and what you need to do by contacting: 

Medical Board of California

2005 Evergreen Street, Suite 1200

Sacramento, CA 95815

(916) 263-2382 or (800) 633-2322

What If I Fail to Renew?

If any doctor or foot doctor practices under a fake name without a valid permit, they could face punishment.

There’s no extra time; if a permit isn’t renewed within 30 days of expiring, the Licensing Program will send a letter to the permit holder. If the renewal form and fees aren’t received by expiration, the permit status is marked as “late.”

If a permit is renewed more than 30 days after it expires, the holder has to pay extra fees.

After a permit is marked as “late” for five years, it’s canceled automatically. Once it’s canceled, it can’t be used again. The holder must apply for a new permit and meet the current requirements.

FAQ

Are there specific style requirements for fictitious name permits?

Indeed, the name you suggest can’t trick, cheat, confuse, or be too much like a name already used. If you’re a foot doctor, you have to include words like “podiatric,” “podiatry,” “podiatrist,” “foot,” or “ankle” in your name. This rule comes from Title 16, Division 13.9, Section 1399.688(b) of the California Code of Regulations.

Are acronyms, abbreviations, foreign words, or names other than yours allowed? 

Sure. Remember, the same rules about naming still apply, as mentioned earlier. Explain any acronyms or abbreviations you use on page 2, section 3 of the application form.

Can you have more than one location for each FNP?

Yes. If the fictitious name is the same at all places and the owners tell the Medical Board in writing about each address, it’s okay. Only the main address shows up on the Board’s website. You can get more addresses if you ask.

Is there a limit on how many FNPs a physician may be issued?

No, as long as each Fictitious Name Permits (FNP) has a different name. You need to fill out a different application for each fake name. Doctors working together as a company can apply for several permits under the same company.

How can the fictitious name be changed?

You can’t change or fix an FNP. You have to cancel the current permit and apply again for the new name. Fill out the “Application for Cancellation of a Fictitious Name Permit” and the “Fictitious Name Permit Application” forms. Mail both forms together to make sure the name will be available.

How long will it take to get a fictitious name permit?

Once we get your application, it usually takes about four to six weeks. We check applications in the order we receive them, based on the date.

For clear guidance on applying for a fictitious business name, it’s smart to speak with a lawyer who knows about forming medical corporations in California. MollaeiLaw is known for helping medical pros start their own companies in California. Email at sam@mollaeiLaw.com

 

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