Fictitious Names

As of January 1, 2020, the Clerk’s Office of the State Corporation Commission is the central filing office in Virginia for all certificates of assumed or fictitious name.

Fictitious Name Certificates may be filed online through the Clerk's Information System (CIS)

A fictitious name is a name that a person (individual or business entity) uses instead of the person's true name, usually in the course of transacting or offering to transact business. It is sometimes referred to as an "assumed name" or "trade name," and it is often identified after a person’s true name with the abbreviation "t/a" ("trading as"), "dba" ("doing business as"), or "aka" ("also known as").

Fictitious names are not held to the same requirements as business entity names in the state of Virginia. It is therefore possible to use a fictitious name that is not unique in the state. Additionally, wording restricions do not apply to fictitious names as they do business entity names.

An individual or business, legal, or commercial entity that conducts or transacts business under an assumed or a fictitious name without making the required filing is subject to being convicted of a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine not exceeding $2,500 or confinement in jail for not more than one year, or both. See § 59.1-75 of the Code of Virginia.

In addition, the person is precluded from maintaining an action in any courts of the Commonwealth. See § 59.1-76 of the Code of Virginia.

Before a person (an individual or entity) may conduct or transact business in Virginia under a fictitious name, the person must file a certificate of assumed or fictitious name in the Office of the Clerk of the Commission on a form prescribed by the Commission. The statutes that govern conducting business in Virginia under a fictitious name are §§ 59.1-69 – 59.1-76 of the Code of Virginia.

Fictitious name filings can be completed online through the CIS or via paper forms. A person must use one of two forms – one is used by businesses that are of record with the Commission such as corporations and LLCs The other form is used by individuals, which includes sole proprietors and certain types of businesses that do not file formation or registration documents with the Commission.

Both forms may be found on the SCC’s Forms and Fees page. 

If the fictitious name certificate is associated with a business that is on file with the Commission, CIS will link the fictitious name to that business.

If the fictitious name certificate is not associated with an existing business entity on record, which is common when filing a fictitious name as a sole proprietor, then the fictitious name certificate will not be associated with a business entity in CIS. It will be associated with the applicant for the certificate.

The fee for filing a copy of the certificate with the Commission is $10.  

If filing online in CIS, credit card or echeck payments are accepted. There is no additional processing fee to pay online. If submitting a paper filing, checks should be made payable to "State Corporation Commission."

When a fictitious name certificate is filed, the Commission issues only a receipt for payment of the filing fee. Upon request and payment of the requisite fee, however, the Clerk's Office will provide a Commission-certified copy of the certificate of assumed or fictitious name or a certificate of fact stating that a fictitious name certificate has been filed with the Commission for a particular individual or entity. Contact the Clerk's Office for more information.

Yes. As of January 1, 2020, the Clerk's Office of the State Corporation Commission is the central filing office in Virginia for all certificates of assumed or fictitious name, including those for sole proprietorships, general partnerships, or trusts.

The Commission does not have authority to determine who has the right to use a fictitious name. Consequently, the Commission does not have authority to reject a new business entity formation document or name change amendment on the ground that the prospective business entity name is in conflict with a fictitious name of record with the Commission.

Furthermore, the Commission does not have the authority to reject a certificate of assumed or fictitious name on the ground that the fictitious name in the certificate is in conflict with a fictitious name that is already of record with the Commission. This is a complex area of law and persons with such questions are advised to consult with an attorney.

For information regarding the availability of a business entity name, see Business Entity Names FAQs.

Yes. When a person is no longer conducting business in Virginia under an assumed or fictitious name on file in the Clerk’s Office of the Commission, the name may be released by filing a certificate of release in the Office of the Clerk. This filing may be completed online through the CIS, or via paper forms, which can be found on the SCC’s Forms & Fees page 

In addition, when a person is no longer conducting business in Virginia under an assumed or fictitious name on file with a circuit court, the name may be released by filing a certificate of release with the clerk of the court. This filing is not available online and must be filed through completion of form SCC59.1-70.1-CC

The fee to file a certificate of release with the Clerk’s Office of the Commission or the clerk of a circuit court is $10.00.