What is a fictitious name? Why do I need it?


It is very common for a business is operate under a name other than the name of the actual business itself.  For example, while our firm’s business entity name is Winslow & McCurry, PLLC – we run our business as both Winslow & McCurry and as WMM Legal.  So that consumers and the proper authorities are aware of who operates WMM Legal, and where it is located, WMM Legal is a registered fictitious name in the Commonwealth of Virginia as well as locally in Chesterfield County, Virginia.

This is because under Virginia Law, if a business wants to operate under a name other than the name used to form the business, the business must first register the fictitious name. In order to do so, the business must file a fictitious name certificate in the clerk’s office of the circuit court located in the jurisdiction in which the fictitious name is to be used.

If the business is a corporation, limited liability company, or limited partnership, the business must then request a certified copy of the registration form and file it with the Clerk of the State Corporation Commission. If a business files a fictitious name certificate in multiple jurisdictions, then they must file a certified copy of each fictitious name certificate with the State Corporation Commission.

Once a business has registered the fictitious name, they may open bank accounts, enter contracts, and operate using the fictitious name.

Because operating without registration can lead to consumers/the authorities not knowing who owns or controls a business – there is a fine in Virginia for not registering.  In fact, the Commonwealth takes it so seriously that it is misdemeanor that could result in a fine up to $2,500, up to 1 year in prison, or both.

If you have questions about filing a fictitious name certificate, or any small business related question, please contact the business attorneys of Winslow & McCurry, PLLC at (804)-423-1382.