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Get a DBA Name for Your Illinois Business Today

Depending on your business structure, your business might just include your first and last name. Although you can stick with it, it doesn’t necessarily explain your company and what makes what you do special. That’s where a “doing business as” (DBA) name comes into play.

A DBA name is an alternative name for your business to use. It allows business owners flexible branding for products or to use a different name than the legal business entity name. For limited liability companies (LLCs) and corporations, they can remove designators like “Corp.” or “LLC” from their business name with a DBA name. This can help build a better brand image and reflect professionalism. 

This guide is a comprehensive resource for all Illinois businesses wanting a DBA name. By registering a DBA name in Illinois, you are ensuring that your business is compliant. In this guide, we’ll cover the basics of a DBA name. From there, we’ll go into some rules for choosing a DBA name. Continue reading to learn all about registering a DBA name in Illinois.

What is an Illinois “doing business as” (DBA) name?

A DBA name allows businesses to operate under a different name than their formal business entity name. Many businesses choose a DBA name because it allows for flexible branding, which empowers businesses to establish a curated company image. Since a DBA name is an alternative name to the legal business entity name, businesses that register a DBA name do not have to pay additional taxes. 

The DBA name is often referred to as a: 

In Illinois, DBA names are referred to as “assumed names.”

Typically, there are two main categories of businesses that seek DBAs: 

  • Sole proprietorships and partnerships: Sole proprietorships and partnerships are business structures referred to by the owner’s legal name. For this reason, many businesses with these structures choose to register a DBA name so that they can go by a name that is more representative of the business and ensures their privacy. 
  • Corporations and LLCs: Corporations and LLCs are other business structures that use DBA names. Businesses with these structures often choose a DBA name to drop designators like “Inc.” or “LLC” and launch a new line of products.  

Many businesses choose DBA names because of the many benefits they offer: 

  • Flexible branding: A DBA name allows business owners to use a name that resonates more with customers and clients. Additionally, it allows businesses to release products with creative and captivating names. 
  • No additional taxes: Since they are alternative names, DBA names do not require separate filings. 
  • Business bank account: Businesses with DBA names can open business bank accounts under those names. Business bank accounts are more professional, better protected, and allow businesses to be more prepared in the event of an emergency. 
  • Professionalism: Businesses with DBA names go a step above what’s necessary to own a business. In doing so, they can create a professional brand that stands out against competitors. 
  • Operate multiple businesses: With a DBA name, businesses can have multiple businesses at once. This is because a DBA name is not a separate tax entity. This allows companies to run several ventures under the original business.

Although you might be tempted to skip the formal process of registering an assumed name, there could be legal repercussions. In Illinois, it is required to register your business under an assumed name before you start using it in business.

How do I choose an Illinois DBA name?

Coming up with a DBA name that is eye-catching and fits your brand can help your business stand out among competitors. Your DBA name should give potential clients and customers a general idea about your business and what you have to offer. 

Tips for choosing a DBA name include: 

  • Choose a unique name: Search for your proposed name and make sure that other businesses aren’t using what you want. In Illinois, you can search for your desired DBA name on the Secretary of State’s website. To search for a name, you will have to select which type of business you are. It’s also important to check whether your proposed DBA name is trademarked.
  • Inform customers about your business: Your DBA name should be somewhat descriptive. This way, if customers glance at your business name or hear it in conversation, they can know what you offer immediately. 
  • Craft a brand: Think about the brand image you are trying to portray. By choosing a DBA name that fits your brand, you can target your intended customers and improve your business’s marketing. 
  • Easy to spell: One thing that can be overlooked is making sure that your DBA name is easy to spell. This way, potential customers can quickly find you on the web.

Depending on your business structure, you will have to follow certain guidelines when registering a DBA name. In Illinois, assumed names can be filed with the Secretary of State or County Clerk’s office. Sole proprietorships, partnerships, and professional corporations can file for an assumed name through the County Clerk’s office. On the other hand, LLCs and corporations must file through the Secretary of State.

As an LLC in Illinois, you are required to register a DBA name if you are operating under a name other than your business’s legal name. Only LLCs in good standing can adopt an assumed name. Once you have completed your application, the right to use the assumed name starts from the day that the Secretary of State has filed the application until the “first day of the company’s anniversary month in the next calendar year evenly divisible by five.” 

If you have a corporation formed in Illinois, you can complete the assumed name registration online or by mail. For nonprofit corporations or corporations formed outside of Illinois (foreign corporations), you can adopt an assumed name online in Illinois as long as your business was incorporated in any of the 49 states or Washington, D.C. All corporations must be in good standing with the Secretary of State at the time of adoption. 

If your business is a limited partnership, you will need to register your assumed name with the Secretary of State. The form can be found online and should be downloaded.

Lastly, if you’re registering an assumed name as a sole proprietorship, general partnership, or professional corporation, you will have to register with your local County Clerk’s office. You can find a list of County Clerk’s offices here.  

It’s also important to note that there are different rules regarding DBA names depending on your county. For example, in Cook County, only certain business types are required to register an assumed name with the County Clerk: sole proprietorship, general partnerships, and professional service corporations. On the other hand, Ogle County only requires sole proprietorships and general partnerships to register an assumed name with the County Clerk. 

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Once you have a DBA name chosen, it’s a great idea to register a domain name that matches. Securing a fitting domain name helps establish legitimacy by putting your brand online. It also protects against others using your DBA name for their websites. With ZenBusiness’s Domain Name Registration services, you can have a matching business email address, web hosting, and a unique domain name.

How do I register an Illinois DBA name?

The steps to register a DBA name vary from state to state. In Illinois, there are different steps to follow, depending on your business structure. According to the Illinois Assumed Name Act, sole proprietorships and general partnerships must register with their County Clerk’s office. You can find the list of County Clerks in Illinois here. For this reason, the fees and processes can vary from county to county. 

In this section, we’ll explain what you need to know to obtain a DBA name in Illinois for these business structures:

  • LLC 
  • Corporation 
  • Limited partnership 
  • Sole proprietorship, general partnership, or professional corporation 

LLC 

If your business is an LLC, you will need to register your assumed name with the Secretary of State by completing this form. You will then need to enter the name of your LLC and check whether your LLC was organized in Illinois or another state. Next, you will need to select that you are completing this form to adopt an assumed name. If you need to change, cancel, or renew your business’s assumed name, you can use the same application.  

You will need to sign and date the document. Before you mail the application, make a check payable to the Secretary of State with the required application fee. Mail the check and paperwork to this address: 

Secretary of State 
Department of Business Services 
Limited Liability Division
501 S. Second St., Rm. 351 
Springfield, IL 62756

In Illinois, filing fees vary from year to year and depend on the filing type:

  • Adopting an assumed name: For each year ending in a 0 or 5, you must pay a $150 filing fee; $120 for years ending in 1 or 6; $90 for years ending in 2 or 7; $60 for years ending in 3 or 8; or $30 for years ending in 4 or 9. 
  • Changing an assumed name: $25
  • Canceling an assumed name: $5

Corporation

If your business is a corporation, you will need to register your assumed name with the Secretary of State by completing this form or filing online. To begin, you will need to fill in the name of your corporation. Then, write in the state or county of incorporation and the date of incorporation. In the next section, write the assumed name you intend to take. Fill in the date that the assumed name will be effective. 

Next, you will need to sign and date the application. Before you mail in the paperwork, make a check payable to the Secretary of State. Mail the check and paperwork to this address: 

Secretary of State 
Department of Business Services
501 S. Second St., Rm. 350
Springfield, IL 62756

In Illinois, fees vary from year to year and depend on the filing type:

  • Adopting an assumed name: If the current year ends in a 0 or 5, you must pay a $150 filing fee; $120 if the current year ends in 1 or 6; $90 if the current year ends in 2 or 7; $60 if the current year ends in 3 or 8; or $30 if the current year ends in 4 or 9. 
  • Changing an assumed name: $25
  • Canceling an assumed name: $5

Limited Partnership 

If your business is a limited partnership, you will need to register your assumed name with the Secretary of State by completing this form. You will need to begin the form by filling in the name of your limited partnership. Then, check the state or jurisdiction in which the limited partnership was formed. If you formed the limited partnership in Illinois, you will select “Illinois (domestic)”; otherwise, select “Foreign” and specify where. You will then need to write the intended assumed name. 

Before you finish the application, it must be signed and dated. The application must be signed by a general partner of the limited partnership. Then, you will need to make a check payable to the Secretary of State. Mail the check and paperwork to this address: 

Secretary of State 
Department of Business Services
Limited Liability Division
501 S. Second St., Rm. 357
Springfield, IL 62756

In Illinois, fees vary from year to year and depend on the filing type:

  • Adopting an assumed name: For each year ending in a 0 or 5, you must pay a $150 filing fee; $120 for years ending in 1 or 6; $90 for years ending in 2 or 7; $60 for years ending in 3 or 8; or $30 for years ending in 4 or 9. 
  • Changing an assumed name: $50
  • Canceling an assumed name: $50

Sole Proprietorship, General Partnership, or Professional Corporation

If your business is a sole proprietorship, general partnership, or professional corporation, you will need to register your assumed name with the County Clerk. For this reason, specific instructions for your county may vary. 

In this example, we will go through the steps of registering an assumed name through the Cook County Clerk’s office. Begin by searching for assumed names to ensure that your intended assumed name is not in use. Even though businesses can use the same assumed name, it’s wise to choose a unique name to set your business apart and make it easier for prospective customers to find.

To begin your application, click “Register.” Then, you will be asked to create an account and complete the application online. Once you have filed for the certificate, a notice of the filing of the certificate will need to be published in a newspaper in your county. The first notice needs to be published 15 days from the date that the certificate was filed and will be published once a week for a total of three weeks. Next, you will have to file a proof of publication within 50 days of filing the certificate.

How do I manage ongoing DBA name compliance in Illinois?

Once you’ve registered your assumed name in Illinois, you’ll likely need to renew your registration every five years. To renew your registration, go to the Secretary of State’s website or the County Clerk, depending on your business structure. A corporation wishing to renew their assumed name will need the file number to begin the process. 

Here are the forms to renew your assumed name depending on your business structure: 

  • LLC: $150 
  • Corporation: $150 
  • Limited partnership: $150  
  • Sole proprietorship, general partnership, or professional corporation: Depends on your local County Clerk’s filing fees   

To cancel a DBA name, use the same form you originally completed. The assumed name registration form also allows you to change or cancel the DBA name. To cancel or change the assumed name for a limited partnership, you will need to pay $50. For LLCs and corporations, it costs $25 to change the assumed name and $5 to cancel the assumed name.

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More Illinois DBA FAQs

How much does it cost to register a DBA name in Illinois?

There isn’t one set price for registering a DBA name in Illinois; you could pay as little as $50 or up to $150 if you are a corporation filing in Illinois. This is because the filing fees vary depending on your business structure and county. For instance, the cost to register your assumed name as a sole proprietorship, general partnership, or professional corporation might be $50 in Cook County, but it could be higher or lower in a neighboring county. 

Below are some filing fees to expect: 

  • LLC: $150 for each year ending in 0 or 5; $120 for each year ending in 1 or 6; $90 for each year ending in 2 or 7; $60 for each year ending in 3 or 8; or $30 ending in 4 or 9 
  • Corporation: $150 if the current year ends in a 0 or 5; $120 if the current year ends with a 1 or 6; $90 if the current year ends with a 2 or 7; $60 if the current year ends with a 3 or 8; $30 if the current year ends with a 4 or 9 
  • Limited partnership: $150 for each year ending in 0 or 5; $120 for each year ending in 1 or 6; $90 for each year ending in 2 or 7; $60 for each year ending in 3 or 8; or $30 for each year ending in 4 or 9
  • Sole proprietorship, general partnership, or professional corporation: The cost will depend on the county. In Cook County, it costs $50 to register an assumed name.

In addition, you should consider the cost of changing, renewing, or canceling your assumed name. Similar to registering an assumed name, the cost of changing, renewing, or canceling your assumed name can differ depending on your business structure and county. With that in mind, it’s important to research your location and what to expect for your business type.

What is the processing time to register a DBA name in Illinois?

The Secretary of State offers two processing options. With the non-expedited service, you can expect your application to be reviewed within 10 days of submission. With the expedited service, you can expect your application to be reviewed within 24 hours, except for holidays and weekends.

Do I need a DBA name for my Illinois business?

If you are operating under another name than the official business entity name, you need an assumed name in Illinois. For example, an LLC needs to register an assumed name before it can conduct business under that name.

If I register a DBA name in Illinois, can another business use the same name?

DBA names are not exclusive. This means that another business could use the same name. For this reason, you should look at the existing DBA names in the state and try to find a name that is unique enough to set your business apart. 


It’s also important to note the limitations of a DBA name. A federal trademark protects your business. It’s important to check the federal trademark database to ensure that your proposed assumed name does not infringe on existing trademarks. In addition, you should search for your desired assumed name in the Illinois trademark search to ensure that you’re not violating any state trademarks.

Can a business in Illinois have multiple DBA names?

Yes. A business can have multiple DBA names. To begin, a business might choose a DBA name as an alternative to their official business entity name. Then, they might want an additional DBA name for a specific product line. For instance, a cosmetology brand might release a new line of makeup pallets. The names of these pallets might have trademarks, but the pallets together could be under a single DBA name.

Is a DBA name the same thing as a fictitious business name in Illinois?

Yes. In Illinois, fictitious names and DBA names are synonyms. However, it is far more common for a DBA name to be referred to as an assumed name in this state.

Do I need a DBA name in Illinois if I use my own name for a sole proprietorship?

If you would like your business to be called anything other than your legal name, yes. Sole proprietorships are required to conduct business under the legal name of the business owner. By having a DBA name, you can avoid conducting business under your name.

Will using a DBA name affect how my business is taxed in Illinois?

By registering a DBA name, you are not establishing a new business. Rather, you are establishing an alternative name for your business. For this reason, you will not have to pay additional taxes for registering an assumed name.

Registering a DBA name in Illinois is necessary if you would like to perform business under any name other than the official business entity name. Even though registration guidelines and processes vary depending on your business structure and location, obtaining a DBA name does not need to be difficult. 

At ZenBusiness, our goal is to make business formation easier. Contact ZenBusiness today to learn how we can make the entire process easier. Our experts in business formation and compliance can take the stress out of running and growing your Illinois small business.

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