A DBA—also known as “doing business as”—serves as a fictitious or alternate name for your business. When you register a DBA in Illinois, you can run the business under a name that varies from its legal name. Want to learn more about DBAs in general? Check out our DBA resource page or reach out to one of our PRIME advisors for a free consultation. Or read on for all the info you need about setting up a DBA for your Illinois business.
Register a DBA in Illinois
Creating a DBA for your Illinois business only takes a few steps:
Register a DBA in Illinois for a Sole Proprietorship or General Partnership
Step 1: Search for an Illinois Assumed Name
To begin the naming process, it is a good idea to register an assumed name. This notifies others, in the form of a public record, that the name is being used in the state.
The best way to start is to visit the Illinois Secretary of State’s website and research if your desired name is available.
After finding out if your desired name is available, make sure your name meets the state’s naming requirements. Illinois’s fictitious naming laws say you should NOT include:
- Words that imply your business is a government agency (State Department, Treasury, FBI, etc.)
- Words or phrases which indicate corporate fiduciary (trust, trustee, etc.), unless approved by the Secretary of Financial and Professional Regulation
- Words that imply the business works in banking, corporate fiduciary, or insurance unless approved by the Commissioner of Banks and Real Estate
- Restricted words as stated by other Illinois statutes
- Words that are not distinguishable from preexisting Illinois LLCs
More information on naming requirements are available through the Illinois General Assembly website.
If your desired DBA name is available, secure the web domain, also known as a URL. This can make sure other people do not take your desired site name.
Registering a DBA in Illinois—An Example
For example, let’s say your name is Mike and you have a killer banana bread recipe. Your friends and family have been encouraging you to set up shop and sell your sweet treats online, and you’re ready to take the plunge. Since you’re a small, one-man shop, you don’t think it’s necessary to incorporate, but you want some legal protection to separate your personal assets from your company’s, so you decide to set up an LLC.
You want to name your business “Mike’s Banana Bread,” but you find out that there is already another Mike selling banana bread under that exact name. Under the Illinois DBA regulations, you obviously can’t call your business Mike’s Banana Bread, but what about making a small change? Let’s take a look at each name proposal and discuss the applicable rules.
Which Names Would Pass the Illinois DBA Regulations?
- MIKE’S BANANA BREAD: Illinois DBA regulations would not permit this name for your new business, as changes in capitalization or punctuation do not change the fact that this name is deceptively similar to the existing business name.
- Mike’s Banana Bread and Treats: This name would most likely be approved when filing your Illinois DBA paperwork. By adding the words “and Treats” to your name, you’ve effectively distinguished your business from the existing business.
- Banana Bread by Mike: This name would also be likely to be approved in the state of Illinois
If you need help with naming your business, you may want to check various domain platforms or social media sites to reserve specific handles. We can assist you through this process with a free consultation call.
Step 2: File the Fictitious Name (DBA) with Your County Clerk
If your business is a sole proprietorship or a partnership, you must file an assumed business name application with your county clerk to operate under your DBA name. The form must be filed in each county the business operates. The Illinois Association of County Clerks and Recorders provides instructions for contacting each county’s clerk.
The work does not end after filing the name. Paying attention to its expiration date and required business certificates are important. If you wish to change your withdraw your DBA, you must fill out new files through your respective county’s office.
Register a DBA for an Illinois LLC, LLP, or Corporation
The process for registering these types of entities varies slightly from general partnerships or sole proprietorships.
Step 1: Complete the Same Business Entity Search
The same requirements listed previously in this article apply to the name search for LLC, LLP, or corporate entities.
Step 2: Apply for an Illinois Assumed Name Certificate
If your business falls under the incorporated category, you must file your certificate through the Illinois Department of State. The form must be filed in duplicate.
The cost to file your DBA depends on the time of year you apply.
- $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
- $30 for each year ending in 4 or 9
LLC Filing Address:
Department of Business Services
Limited Liability Division
501 S. Second St., Rm. 351
Springfield, IL 62756
Corporation Filing Address:
Secretary of State
Department of Business Services
501 S. Second St., Rm. 350
Springfield, IL 62756
After you file your DBA, you must manage it. Make sure to be aware of your certificate’s expiration date. If you wish to change or withdraw your DBA, you must file separate forms.
After Filing Your Illinois DBA
After filing for a DBA, take these steps to help you get started:
Create a Business URL- Build your business’s site through easy-builders such as Wix. Having a website is crucial for reaching your target audience.
Create a Business Bank Account- Opening a business bank account is necessary for protecting your personal assets. In addition, you can sign up for a business credit card.
Obtain Business Insurance – Having business insurance prepares your business for the worst possible scenario. Most businesses begin by using general liability insurance.
DBA Illinois FAQ
Is there a limit on how many Illinois DBAs I can have?
No, you can file for as many as you can pay for/obtain.
Does a DBA require an EIN or Tax ID?
They are not required for DBAs, since they aren’t business entities. The appropriate business entity which the DBA falls under would receive the EIN.
How can a DBA become an LLC?
Technically speaking, a DBA cannot become an LLC because they are two different types of terms. A DBA is a label, while an LLC is a business structure for a business. Filing a DBA simply allows you to operate your business under a different name. If you want to structure your business as an LLC, that is a separate filing and setup process. PRIME advisors can help with either of those tasks—reach out for a free consult, or check out our guide to forming an Illinois LLC for more info.