Frequently Asked Questions

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Frequently Asked Questions

Fictitious Name

When do I need a fictitious name permit?

If you are a licensed physician and surgeon, or podiatrist, practicing under a fictitious, false or assumed name in any public communication, advertisement, sign or announcement. Example: "Sunrise Medical Group."

When do I not need a fictitious name permit?

If only the name or surname (last name) of the physician or podiatrist is used, followed by Medical Doctor, M.D., Podiatrist, Doctor of Podiatric Medicine, D.P.M., Medical Corporation, Medical Corp., Podiatry Corporation, Podiatry Corp., Professional Corporation, Prof. Corp., Corporation, Corp., Incorporated or Inc. Examples: "John Doe Medical Corporation" or "John Doe, M.D. Inc." would not require a fictitious name permit as long as John Doe matches the legal name on the physician's medical license.

Are there specific name style requirements for fictitious name permits?

Yes. The proposed name cannot be misleading, deceptive, confusing, or similar to a previously issued name. A doctor of podiatric medicine must include the designation (word) "podiatric," "podiatry," "podiatrist," "foot" or "ankle." (Title 16, Division 13.9, Section 1399.688(b) of the California Code of Regulations.)

What is the fee?

A $50 non-refundable processing fee is required, with a renewal fee of $40 every two years. The check should be made payable to the Medical Board of California. A renewal notice automatically will be mailed to the practice address approximately 90 days before the permit expires.

How do I get a copy of my fictitious name permit?

Click on Application for a Duplicate Fictitious Name Permit and download (print) the document. Complete it and mail it along with the fee to the address listed on the application.

How do I renew my current permit?

Approximately 90 days before the permit expires, you will receive a renewal notice in the mail. If you do not receive your notice or have lost the notice, you may use the form titled Fictitious Name Permit Notification of Renewal/Hold/Release. The usual fee is $40, every two years. If the permit has become delinquent, an additional fee of $20 is required for a total of $60. To check the status of the permit, click on "License Search for Fictitious Name Permit."

When choosing a fictitious name, what are some tips to increase the chance of the name being approved?

Before selecting a fictitious name, visit our link License Search to determine the availability of a fictitious name. Try to avoid names that only contain generic medical words or terms. If the name is unoriginal/common, chances are it has already been issued. The criteria for approving a name is that it not be confusing or similar to a name which has already been issued, regardless of who owns the similar name.

Are acronyms, abbreviations, foreign words or a name other than your own allowed?

Yes. Keep in mind that the same name style requirements apply, as stated above. Be sure to provide an explanation of the acronym, abbreviation, etc. on page 2, section 3 of the application.

If an FNP is issued by the Medical Board, am I still required to file for a fictitious name with my local county and city agencies?

Contact your local county and city agencies. The Medical Board is a state agency and, as such, cannot provide an answer regarding local requirements. The answer may be different, depending upon where the physician is practicing medicine.

Once I apply for and receive my fictitious name permit, are there any other permits or certificates of registration that are required from the Medical Board?

No. As long as the physician's medical license is renewed and current, the Board does not require anything further.

Can you have more than one location for each FNP?

Yes. As long as the fictitious name is exactly the same at each location and the owners notify the Medical Board in writing of each practice address. Only the primary physical address appears on the Board’s website. Additional addresses may be obtained upon request.

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

No, as long as the names of each FNP are different. A separate application must be submitted for each fictitious name. Physicians doing business as a corporation also may file for multiple permits under the same corporation.

How can the fictitious name be changed?

An FNP cannot be changed or altered. The current permit must be cancelled and the applicant must reapply for the new name. Complete the forms Application for Cancellation of a Fictitious Name Permit and Fictitious Name Permit Application. Both forms should be mailed together to assure the name will be available.

Is the FNP transferable if a medical practice is purchased by another physician?

No. The former owner must submit an Application for Cancellation of a Fictitious Name Permit to cancel the permit and the new owner must submit a Fictitious Name Permit Application. Both forms should be mailed together to assure the name will be available to the new owner.

Can shareholders or partners be added or deleted from the permit?

Yes. If there are multiple owners of the permit, and you would like to associate or disassociate shareholders or partners, complete the Fictitious Name Permit Notification of Shareholders Change (if a corporation), or Fictitious Name Permit Notification of Partnership Change (if a partnership) form and mail, email or fax it to the Medical Board. Please ensure that an owner currently on record signs the form.

Can a lay person be an owner or partial owner of an FNP?

No.

Can a physician provide TeleHealth services only?

On the application, where it asks for a practice address, instruct the applicant to complete the “Physician or Corporation Name,” section, and write “N/A, telehealth services” on the street address. Be sure to include a phone number. A mailing address must be provided in the next section.

A professional medical corporation providing services in California only through telehealth using a fictitious name must post the fictitious name permit on its telehealth website/portal so that each patient may view it.

What type of corporation is necessary to meet the requirements for an FNP?

The Medical Board can only accept corporations that are formed in California and are professional medical corporations. No out-of-state (foreign), limited liability, or general corporations are allowed. NOTE: For physicians, the Articles of Incorporation MUST state “the purpose of this corporation is to engage in the profession of Medicine, and for podiatrists, it must state “the purpose of this corporation is to engage in the profession of Podiatry” for it to be accepted by the Board.

Are Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs) and Limited Liability Corporations (LLCs) allowed?

No. Physicians cannot practice medicine as LLPs or LLCs.

Who can form a partnership with a physician to practice medicine?

Physicians may only be partners with other physicians and osteopaths or podiatrists (see Business & Professions Code section 2416).

How can I verify who owns the fictitious name permit?

Owners do not appear on the wall certificate or on the Board’s website. However, this information is public record and may be obtained upon request.

If I apply as a corporation, do I need to incorporate with the Secretary of State before I apply for my FNP?

Yes. The Board requires a copy of the Articles of Incorporation to ensure that the corporation is active and is a professional medical corporation. If a corporate name is issued by the Secretary of State and is not available as a fictitious name, the physician has the option of submitting three different name options on the FNP application and the Board will use one of the three names that is available. The corporate name may be different from the fictitious name.

If I receive my corporate name from the Secretary of State and plan on advertising under the same fictitious name, do I still need to get an FNP from the Medical Board?

Yes. The Secretary of State approval of the corporate name does not give permission to advertise under that name to the public if it is a fictitious name. You must also apply for a Fictitious Name Permit with the Medical Board in order to advertise under a fictitious name.

Do I need to inform the Medical Board if I amend my corporate name at a future time?

No. The Board would only need to be notified if there is a complete change of the corporation. This would only apply to physicians or podiatrists who have an FNP with the Board. Any other corporate matters should be addressed to the Secretary of State. They can be reached at (916) 657-5448.

Who can be an owner of a professional medical corporation?

At least 51% of the shares must be owned by a licensed physician and surgeon. The remaining 49% may be owned by: osteopathic physicians, podiatrists, psychologists, registered nurses, optometrists, marriage and family therapists, clinical social workers, physician assistants, chiropractors, acupuncturists, professional clinical counselors, physical therapists, pharmacists, licensed midwives or naturopathic doctors. The number of these licensed persons cannot exceed the number of physicians. A lay (unlicensed) person cannot own any shares of a medical corporation. If at least 51% of the shares are owned by an osteopathic physician or combination of osteopathic physicians, the FNP must be obtained through the Osteopathic Medical Board of California.

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

From the time that the application is received, approximately four to six weeks. The applications are reviewed in the date order in which they are received.

Does it speed up the review process if I hand deliver the application?

No. The application would still be reviewed in the date order in which it was received, whether received in the mail or hand delivered.

How do I notify the Board of a change of address?

Complete and mail, email or fax the form entitled, Fictitious Name Permit-Change of Address Form . The form must be signed by a current owner of the permit. The Board does not automatically send out an updated wall certificate when an address change is processed. If you wish to request a replacement certificate, please complete an Application for a Duplicate Fictitious Name Permit form.

What if I decide to cancel my permit?

Complete the form entitled, Application for Cancellation of a Fictitious Name Permit . The form must be signed by at least one physician who is recognized by the Board as being a current owner. Mail, email or fax the form to the information listed at the top of the application. There is no fee to cancel the permit.

What if my business type has changed? For instance, changing from a sole proprietor to a corporation.

You must reapply for a new FNP. Submit an Application for Cancellation of a Fictitious Name Permit to cancel the existing permit and include a Fictitious Name Permit Application to reapply for the new permit. Make sure to mail the two forms together to assure the name will be available.

What if I have paid the renewal fees on my current permit but did not receive a new permit?

You may have had a change of address or failed to complete the renewal form in its entirety. When this happens, the fees still are collected by the cashiering unit but a hold is sometimes placed on the permit. This insures that the new permit is not mailed to an incorrect address and that an unauthorized person has not signed for the renewal of the permit. Should this happen, complete and mail to the Board the form entitled, Fictitious Name Permit Notification of Renewal/Hold Release. The form must be signed by a physician who is recognized by the Board as being a current owner.

What should I do if a hold has been placed on my permit?

Complete and mail to the Board the form entitled, Fictitious Name Permit Notification of Renewal/Hold Release . The form must be signed by a physician who is recognized by the Board as being a current owner.

What if I am no longer using the permit and choose not to renew it?

If the permit is not renewed, it will fall into delinquent status and will appear on the website as such. If the permit has not been renewed for five years, the system is programmed to automatically cancel the permit as required by law. The owner of the permit has the option of submitting an Application for Cancellation of a Fictitious Name Permit at any time. No fee is charged to cancel the permit.

What happens if my application is reviewed and the proposed name is not available/allowed or other problems are discovered?

During the application review process, the three name choice options entered on the application are crosschecked with existing permit names to determine if any of the name choices are available. If, at that time, any of the name choices are not available, or other deficiencies are identified, a notice will be sent indicating the deficiencies that need to be corrected for the permit to be approved. The deficiency letter will include contact information for someone for to speak to for further discussion of deficient items needed. Once all deficiencies are fulfilled, the permit is usually issued within 7-10 business days.

Are there any medical practices that are exempt from needing an FNP?

Yes. Licensees who contract with, are employed by, or are on the staff of 1. any clinic licensed by the Department of Public Health under Chapter 1 (commencing with Section 1200) of Division 2 of the Health and Safety code, or 2. any medical school approved by the division or a faculty practice plan connected with that medical school, or 3. an outpatient surgery setting accredited by an accreditation agency approved by the Medical Board are not required to obtain a fictitious name permit. The four approved accreditation agencies are: "Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care," "American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities, Inc." and "Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations."

If I am advertising under my own name, and want to let the public know what I specialize in, is a fictitious name permit required?

No, as long as the specialty listed is not part of the name you are advertising. Example: JOHN DOE, M.D. (Specializing in Pediatrics) would not require a permit. JOHN DOE, M.D. PEDIATRIC SPECIALTY would require a permit.

Can a permit be issued to a physician who is not licensed in California?

No.

If a similar fictitious name permit was previously issued by the Board, but is in delinquent status (unpaid renewal fees), is the name available?

No. The current permit must be canceled before the name can be issued.

Is it OK to advertise a shortened version of the fictitious name?

No. The entire name as it appears on the permit must be on all advertisements and materials seen by the public.

Does a hospital corporation or surgery center having a Department of Public Health certification and/or licensure need to obtain a fictitious name permit from the Medical Board of California?

No. Pursuant to Business and Professions Code sections 2285 (b) and (c) and 2415 (d), only a physician and surgeon or doctor of podiatric medicine who is a sole proprietor, or in a partnership, group, or professional corporation, may obtain a fictitious name permit issued by the Board.