Contractors License Fictitious Business Name Requirements

It has come to my attention that as of March 1st the Contractors State License Board now has fictitious business name requirements stating that any business applying for a license with a DBA needs to submit a copy of the filed Fictitious Business Name (FBN) statement with the application before they will post the application.  Just one more thing to make this already difficult process more difficult and take that much longer.

Remember, if your contractor’s license business name does not denote the trade classification you are apply for, they will require you to provide a fictitious business name.

Examples:  123 Corp applying for a B license would need a DBA like 123 Construction.  Or Shocking, Inc. applying for a C-10 license would need a DBA like Shocking Electrical.

To file a FBN, do a google search for How to File an FBN in (your county).

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Contractors Business Name Style

Contractors Business Name Style

Contractors Business Name StyleMany people get caught in the contractors business name style law, or B&P Code 7059.1, and end up with a rejected contractor’s license application.

The contractors business name style code section states: “7059.1. Misleading or incompatible use of name styles (a) A licensee shall not use any business name that indicates the licensee is qualified to perform work in classifications other than those issued for that license, or any business name that is incompatible with the type of business entity licensed.
(b) A licensee shall not conduct business under more than one name for each license. Nothing in this section shall prevent a licensee from obtaining a business name change as otherwise provided by this chapter.”

The Contractors State License Board’s (CSLB) interpretation of this law is that your business name must be compatible with the classification you are applying for. If you are applying for a B-General Building license, your business name must have the words construction or building in it (unless you are using your personal name as the business name). So… if your corporate name, partnership name, or sole owner DBA is “My Business Rocks, Inc.” or “My Business Rocks & Sons” or “My Business Rocks, LLC”, the CSLB will require you to add a DBA that matches the classification you are applying for.

My Business Rocks Construction (B-Gen)
My Business Rocks Electrician (C-10)
My Business Rocks Plumbing (C-36)
My Business Rocks Drywall (C-9)

To give you my straight up opinion… this law is government overreach at it’s finest. If I want to name my business “My Business Rocks” I should be able to do that… without having to add a DBA (a DBA that then must be included on all contracts, advertising, etc.).

A client sent me the correction letter he received from the CSLB where the tech told him “Business name must be strictly compatible with the classification in which you are applying for, not allude to any other classification and not be too vague.” Too Vague!!?? Does someone at the CSLB have the title of “Too Vague Police”? Who determines what is too vague and what is not?!? For people like me who help applicants wade through the red tape, it makes it very difficult when CSLB techs jump ship and begin changing the laws as they wish.

You’ll notice in the law section mentioned above there is nothing that states that the business name “must be strictly compatible with the classification” being applied for. It states, “or any business name that is incompatible with the type of business entity licensed” (emphasis added) My Business Rocks, Inc. does not indicate that I’m performing work in a classification that I’m not applying for.  It also doesn’t suggest that my intent is to operate as a sole owner with a corporate name.

Wouldn’t it be nice if government agencies actually followed the law as written? And wouldn’t it be nice if the CSLB techs didn’t alter or amend the contractors business name style law, or any other law, whenever they feel like it?

Update: 5/28/19

A current client applied for a new license (waiver) with the B-General classification and his/her corp name is X Y Solar.  I informed him/her that the CSLB will ask for a DBA because the corp name didn’t include construction or building. He/she was adamant that there are other licenses out there with Solar in the name that only hold the B classification.  I agree, there probably are, but CSLB business name cops are cracking the whip, and as much as he/she doesn’t want to use a DBA (i.e. X Y Construction) the CSLB won’t move the app forward until he/she provides them with one.

Also… a DBA (or FBN) filed statement from the county where the business is located must be included with the amended application. (again… nothing in the law that says the CSLB can ask for this filed FBN statement)

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Contractor Adversiting Rules 5/15/2013​

I was recently asked if a corporate license using a DBA can advertise with just the DBA. My answer was yes. As long as the public can find your license information on the CSLB website by searching the DBA, you are in compliance with the rule. Remember, your license number must be included in ALL advertising. Including on your vehicles. Every time I see a contractors rig, I ALWAYS look for their number. 98% of the time it’s listed. That means that 2% of you are not in compliance. And with the CSLB on an enforcement binge, you shouldn’t take the chance of receiving a citation.​

advertising sign

Here are the laws that pertain to advertising:​

7027. Advertising as contractor

Any person who advertises or puts out any sign or card or other device that would indicate to the public that he or she is a contractor, or who causes his or her name or business name to be included in a classified advertisement or directory under a classification for construction or work of improvement covered by this chapter is subject to the provisions of this chapter regardless of whether his or her operations as a builder are otherwise exempted.

7027.4. Advertising as insured or bonded; Requirements; Cause for discipline

(a) It is a cause for discipline for any contractor to advertise that he or she is “insured” or has insurance without identifying in the advertisement the type of insurance, including, for example, “commercial general liability insurance” or “workers’ compensation insurance” that is carried by the contractor. The contractor may abbreviate the title of the type of insurance.

(b) It is cause for discipline for a contractor to advertise that he or she is “bonded” if the reference is to a contractor’s license bond required pursuant to Section 7071.6 or to a disciplinary bond required pursuant to Section 7071.8.

(c) “Advertise,” as used in this section, includes, but is not limited to, the issuance of any card, sign, or device to any person, the causing, permitting, or allowing of any sign or marking on or in any building or structure or business vehicle or in any newspaper, magazine, or by airwave or any electronic transmission, or in any directory under a listing for construction or work of improvement covered by this chapter, for the direct or indirect purpose of performing or offering to perform services that require a contractor’s license.

7071.13. Reference to bond in advertising, soliciting, or other presentments as ground for suspension of license

Any reference by a contractor in his advertising, soliciting, or other presentments to the public to any bond required to be filed pursuant to this chapter is a ground for the suspension of the license of such contractor.

7029.5. Display of name, business address and business license number on commercial vehicles.

Every C-36 plumbing contractor, C-45 sign contractor, and C-57 well-drilling contractor licensed under this chapter shall have displayed on each side of each motor vehicle used in his or her business, for which a commercial vehicle registration fee has been paid pursuant to Article 3 (commencing with Section 9400) of Chapter 6 of Division 3 of the Vehicle Code, his or her name, permanent business address, and contractor’s license number, all in letters and numerals not less than 1½ inches high. The identification requirements of this section shall also apply to any drill rig used for the drilling of water wells. Failure to comply with this section constitutes a cause for disciplinary action.

7029.6. Display of business name and contractors’ license number

Except for contractors identified in Section 7029.5, every contractor licensed under this chapter shall have displayed, in or on each motor vehicle used in his or her construction business, for which a commercial vehicle registration fee has been paid pursuant to Article 3 (commencing with Section 9400) of Chapter 6 of Division 3 of the Vehicle Code, his or her business name and contractors’ license number in a clearly visible location in print type of at least 72-point font or three-quarters of an inch in height and width.

7030.5. Inclusion of license number in contracts, bids, and advertising

Every person licensed pursuant to this chapter shall include his license number in: (a) all construction contracts; (b) subcontracts and calls for bid; and (c) all forms of advertising, as prescribed by the registrar of contractors, used by such a person.

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