How to File a DBA in Illinois: 6 Simple Steps in 2024

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    Are you interested in learning about the importance of DBA registration in Illinois? Look no further! Known as “Doing Business As,” an IL DBA allows entrepreneurs to use a different name for their business, especially for marketing, sales, and legal purposes. This registration type is also referred to as a fictitious name, assumed name, trade name, or similar terms in other states.

    It’s important to note that a DBA is not the same as forming a Limited Liability Company (LLC), which offers a more formal structure and benefits. In Illinois, registering an LLC may be more beneficial due to the potential tax advantages and legal protections it offers.

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    What is an Illinois DBA (Assumed Business Name)?

    Having a DBA, or “Doing Business As,” name allows you to operate under a different name than your official business name. For example, if you own Chi-Town Yarn & More LLC but want to sell clothing under the name “Chi-Town Crochet Creations,” you can do so with a DBA. In Illinois, these are referred to as assumed business names, while other states may call them fictitious or trade names.

    It’s important to register your Illinois DBA according to state law. The level at which you need to file your DBA depends on the type of business you own – it may be at the state or county level. Failing to register your assumed business name can result in negative consequences for your business. This could include facing misdemeanor charges or being subjected to hefty fines of up $1,000, depending on the jurisdiction and nature of your business.

    What’s Unique About DBA Registration in Illinois?

    • Filing Requirements at State and County Levels: Business entities registered with the state, such as LLCs and corporations, are obligated to file DBAs with the secretary of state’s office. However, professional corporations, sole proprietorships, and general partnerships must file with the county clerk’s office in the county where the business operates.
    • Filing exceptions: At the county level, there’s an exception to the registration requirement. If the business name includes the full name(s) of the owner(s), registration isn’t necessary. For instance, operating under names like “Allie Pearson Antiques” or “Allie Pearson, DDS, & Rex Pearson, DDS, PC” doesn’t require a DBA filing. However, conducting business under names like “Antiques by Allie” or “Pearson Dentistry, PC” necessitates a DBA filing.
    • Publication requirement: For businesses registering their DBA at the county level, a notice must be published in a local newspaper indicating that the business has adopted a DBA after filing registration paperwork.
    • Address protection for vulnerable home-based business owners: Home-based businesses filing a DBA with the county and facing potential safety risks due to publishing the home address can request to use the county clerk’s address instead. This requires providing a court order or police report to substantiate the safety concern. While the county clerk will maintain confidentiality, the address must still be shared with them.

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    Why Register a DBA in Illinois?

    Here are some of the most common reasons to register a DBA:

    You’re an Illinois Sole Proprietor

    A sole proprietorship refers to an unregistered business that is owned by a single individual. In this type of business structure, there’s no legal distinction between the owner and the business itself, so the legal name of the sole proprietor becomes the official business name.

    However, many sole proprietors opt to use a “Doing Business As” (DBA) name in order to operate under a more professional or descriptive identity. For example, instead of using his own name, Chris Boyega could choose to do business as “Omega Comics” using a DBA. This allows for greater flexibility and branding opportunities within the realm of a sole proprietorship.

    To Market Your Business

    If you’re looking to grow or redefine your business, obtaining a DBA allows you to operate under a new name without going through the process of starting an entirely new company. For example, if your official business name is Midwest Vitamins LLC, but you believe that it no longer reflects the core values and beliefs of your company, you can choose to use the DBA “Higher Power Supplements.”

    Utilizing your DBA enables you to establish and cultivate a strong professional identity. This can be achieved by incorporating your chosen DBA into various aspects of your business operations.

    • On websites and social media accounts
    • On signs, business cards, and other marketing materials
    • In commercials and advertisements
    • On Merchandise
    • To open a business bank account (Note: some banks will require proof of DBA registration)
    • To make and receive payments

    You Want to Do Business Under Your Domain Name

    Imagine if Midwest Vitamins LLC decides to purchase the domain and begins operating under the name “Real Ginger Tea Power.” They would engage in various business activities such as advertising, customer interaction, and accepting payments. However, since the domain name is functioning as a DBA (Doing Business As), it’s necessary for it to be registered.

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    Why Hire a Professional Service to File a DBA in Illinois? 

    The process of registering a DBA in Illinois consists of several important steps, each crucial to ensure a smooth and successful registration. Making any mistakes during these procedures can lead to an application rejection or even more severe consequences. The state authorities in Illinois have the power to impose fines or even shut down your business if you misuse a name in legal or business contexts.

    To avoid any uncertainties and worries related to the entire DBA process, professional services are available. They have a deep understanding of Illinois’ specific requirements and can help you choose an ideal name before starting the paperwork. These companies also offer various services, including LLC filing, which can be extremely valuable as your business grows.

    After conducting thorough research, we have identified the top professional LLC services that cater to your DBA needs in Illinois:

    How to File an Illinois-Assumed Business Name

    1. Find Out if Your Business Name Is Already in Use

    In order to establish a distinct and exclusive identity for your business, it’s imperative that your chosen Doing Business As (DBA) name is both original and unregistered by any other businesses in Illinois.

    To ensure the uniqueness of your name, it’s essential to conduct a thorough search. Begin this process by performing a name search on the official website of the Illinois Secretary of State – Department of Business Services. This platform allows you to carry out searches based on names for registered businesses.

    Once you have confirmed that your preferred name is not already registered with the secretary of state, it’s important to verify whether it has been trademarked. You can do this by conducting a search through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO’s) trademark database. Additionally, do not forget to check for domain name availability so that you can create a website under your newly assumed business name.

    Only when you’re confident that no other business is using your chosen DBA name and there are no existing trademarks associated with it should you proceed further without violating naming regulations in Illinois.

    2. Follow Illinois Naming Rules

    To maintain transparency and prevent any misleading implications, it’s crucial to avoid using words in your business name that may falsely suggest an affiliation or professional license. These regulations are in place to protect consumers from confusion and prevent companies from making inaccurate claims about their ability to offer professional or governmental services.

    When choosing an assumed name for your business, make sure it does not:

    • Avoid suggesting that you operate in the financial or insurance sectors erroneously.
    • Refrain from giving the impression that your business is a governmental entity, avoiding acronyms like “FBI” or “CIA” in your assumed name.
    • Do not include terms like “trust,” “trustee,” or “fiduciary” without proper paperwork and approval if they pertain to your business.

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    3. Collect the Necessary Information for Your DBA Registration

    When filling out your application for an assumed name, you will be required to provide the necessary information.

    • Your business’s contact information and business address
    • Names of business owners
    • Your assumed name (DBA)
    • A notary public signature (where applicable)
    • Filing fee payment

    Keeping thorough records of your assumed name registration is essential for a seamless renewal process in the future. The renewal of your assumed name will be required the following year after registration, specifically on a year divisible by five.

    For instance, if you obtained your certificate of assumed name in 2021, you would have to renew it in 2025. During the renewal process, you will be asked to provide your registration number and submit a filing fee.

    The filing fees for LLCs, corporations, and non-profits in Illinois can be quite intricate as they’re subject to annual variations.

    • $150 for each year or part thereof ending in 0 or 5
    • $120 for each year or part thereof ending in 1 or 6
    • $90 for each year or part thereof ending in 2 or 7
    • $60 for each year or part thereof ending in 3 or 8
    • $30 for each year or part thereof ending in 4 or 9

    In Illinois, specific counties may demand notarizing documents, including the notarized Certificate of Publication. It’s essential to engage a notary public to endorse your paperwork officially. The newspaper responsible for publishing will furnish you with a duly notarized Certificate of Publication and a copy of your legal notice as evidence.

    4. Register your Illinois DBA

    Once you have confirmed that your chosen alias adheres to the regulations in Illinois, the next step is to register it with the state officially. The specific process for registering your assumed name will vary depending on the legal structure of your business – either through the secretary of state or county clerk.

    Business Structures That File With the Secretary of State

    If your business is structured in any of the following ways, you will need to register your assumed name with the Illinois secretary of state.

    • LLC
    • Corporation
    • Non-profit corporation
    • Limited partnership (LP)
    • Limited liability partnership (LLP)

    You have the option to sign up online or gather additional details about submitting via mail through the secretary of state. The filing costs differ depending on the year, but they typically amount to around $150 or lower.

    Business Structures That File With the County Clerk

    Suppose your business operates under a legal structure different from those mentioned previously. In that case, you will need to submit your application for a new assumed name to the county clerk in the area where you conduct business. If your business falls into any of the following categories, please reach out to the office of your local county clerk:

    • Professional service corporation: Also referred to as a professional corporation, this is a specialized business structure designed for licensed professionals.
    • Sole proprietorship: You’re a sole proprietor if you operate your business independently without forming an LLC or corporation. To safeguard your personal assets from business liabilities, it’s advisable to explore the option of establishing a Limited Liability Company (LLC).
    • General partnership: If you co-own a business without formal legal documentation, it’s considered a general partnership. Creating an LLC can help protect you from personal liability associated with your business obligations.

    5. Publish Your DBA Name

    This step only applies if your business is organized as one of the following legal structures:

    • Sole Proprietorship
    • General Partnership
    • Professional Corporation

    If you belong to any of the mentioned categories, you will need to submit a notification regarding your newly adopted name in a local weekly newspaper. This must be done within 15 days after registering your assumed name. The newspaper should publish this notice consecutively for three weeks.

    Afterwards, you’re required to provide evidence of publication to the county clerk’s office in your locality. The submission of this evidence must be completed within 50 days from when you applied for your assumed name; otherwise, the registration can be invalidated by the county clerk.

    It’s possible that depending on where you reside, it may also be necessary for a notary public to sign your application. To determine if this requirement applies to you, consult with your county clerk.

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    6. Manage Your DBA

    Once you have successfully submitted your application for a DBA, there are further actions that need to be taken. These include renewing your registered name and ensuring the cancellation of any unused DBAs.

    DBA Renewal

    If you have filed a Doing Business As (DBA) registration for your corporation or LLC with the Secretary of State, it will need to be renewed during the upcoming year and ends in either “0” or “5.” It’s important to remember to renew your DBA before the first day of the month in which you originally filed. Failure to renew on time will result in a $100 penalty, and if more than 60 days pass, you will lose the privilege of using your assumed business name.

    Canceling or Changing Your DBA

    LLCs and corporations that desire to alter a DBA are required to pay a fee of $25, while cancellation requires a fee of $5. In the event that you have registered a DBA with your county, it’s necessary to submit an amendment if there are changes in the business address, nature of the business, ownership, or if you wish to terminate the DBA. For Cook County residents, filing this form online or via mail incurs a fee of $25. Different counties may have their own specific forms and corresponding fees for this process.

    Best DBA Filing Services to Register Fictitious Name in Illinois – IL DBA

    Explore top-notch services for registering a fictitious name in the state of Illinois.

    Business Rocket logo

    Business Rocket proves to be an invaluable resource for individuals embarking on the process of filing a Doing Business As (DBA) in Illinois. This platform is specifically designed to offer entrepreneurs and business owners a straightforward and user-friendly experience, simplifying the often intricate paperwork associated with DBA registration in Illinois. By providing intuitive online tools and step-by-step guidance, Business Rocket aims to streamline the entire procedure.

    The main goal of Business Rocket is to ensure a smooth DBA registration process by guiding individuals through the legal requirements and guaranteeing that their chosen business name is unique while adhering to Illinois regulations. With features like document preparation and filing assistance, this platform ensures that registering a DBA becomes effortless for individuals looking to establish their presence in Illinois.

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    Northwest Registered Agent logo

    Northwest Registered Agent is a reliable choice for a range of legal services in Illinois, including DBA filings. As a registered agent service, they provide an approved physical address in Illinois that meets the state’s requirements for businesses operating under an alternate name.

    In addition to DBA filings, Northwest offers other compliance services like annual report submissions and mail forwarding. This all-inclusive approach ensures that businesses remain in good standing with the state, relieving business owners of administrative tasks and enabling them to concentrate on growing their enterprises. With their expertise and professional assistance, Northwest Registered Agent is committed to supporting businesses every step of the way.

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    ZenBusiness is a comprehensive platform for business services that cater to entrepreneurs at all stages, including the process of filing a DBA in Illinois. With an emphasis on simplicity and affordability, ZenBusiness provides an easily accessible online platform that guides users through the necessary steps to register a DBA in Illinois.

    This service not only assists with checking the availability of names but also handles the preparation of required documents and submission of filings to the appropriate authorities in Illinois.

    Additionally, ZenBusiness offers ongoing support for compliance matters, making it a valuable resource for entrepreneurs who want an effortless and compliant approach to establishing their business identity in Illinois.

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    DBA vs. LLC in Illinois

    An Illinois LLC is a legally registered business entity that offers liability protection to its owners, also known as members. This protection ensures that the owners are not held personally accountable in case of lawsuits or debts faced by the business. While the assets of the business may still be at risk, personal assets such as homes, cars, and savings are safeguarded.

    When it comes to an LLC, liability protection exists regardless of whether a DBA (Doing Business As) is adopted or not. On the other hand, sole proprietors do not enjoy any form of liability protection even if they have a DBA. The most effective way to secure personal assets is by forming an LLC and subsequently obtaining a DBA if needed.

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    File a DBA in Illinois – Frequently Asked Questions

    Do you still have questions about filing a DBA in Illinois? Read on to see if we have the answer you’re looking for.

    Conclusion – File a DBA in Illinois

    To sum up, successfully navigating the intricacies of filing a DBA in Illinois can be made simple and effective by following our detailed six-step guide. For an even smoother experience, you can rely on Business Rocket, a dependable service committed to streamlining the DBA filing process.

    By selecting Business Rocket as your trusted partner, you give your business the ability to establish a strong identity. This not only saves you time but also guarantees accuracy throughout every step of the registration process.

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