In Illinois, a business operating under a fictitious name will need to register a DBA.  Learn more about what a DBA is, who needs one and how to register.

What is a DBA?

A DBA, also known as “Doing Business As”, Trade Name, Assumed Name or Fictitious Name is a name used by a business, that is different from the legal name
of the business.   This name is often referred to as an Assumed Business Name in Illinois.

When a business wants to operate under a name other than their legal name, the state of Illinois, like most states, require the business to register their business name.  The registration requirement was designed to protect consumers from business owners hiding anonymously behind the name of a business.  Business name registrations are legislated under 805 ILCS 405 and 805 ILCS 5-4.15.

Who needs to register?

The requirements and need to register for an Assumed Name vary, depending on the type of business entity. 

Sole proprietorships and general partnerships are the most common entities to register for a DBA. 

The legal name of a sole proprietor or partnership can be the owner’s full first and last name, which can be used without registering.  For example, if John Smith starts a business repairing computers but doesn’t use a business name he doesn’t have to register.  If John decides to name his business John’s Computer Repair then he will need to register. 

Corporations and Limited Liability Companies won’t typically register a fictitious name since a unique entity name is created during the formation process.  Some will file for a DBA if they have another business they want to
operate under their corporate/LLC umbrella to keep the liability protection
without having to form another entity.

Illinois DBA Registration Form

Sole proprietorships and partnerships – Obtain the Assumed Business Name Application from the County Clerk’s office in the county where the business is physically located.  A handful of counties have this form available to download, but a majority require the form to be picked up in person. 

Corporations and LLCs – Will fill out the form from the Secretary of State’s website. The form is different for corporations and LLCs.

How much does it cost to register?

The cost for a Sole proprietorship or partnership to register their Assumed Name varies by county but expect a filing fee of $20-$50 to the County Clerk and $40-$100 for the publication of the legal notice.  This is a one-time cost unless the business changes location.

The filing fee for corporations and LLCs vary depending on the year they are applying.  The cost is $150 if the current year ends with 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; or $30 if the current year ends with a 4 or 9. 

Corporation and LLC name registrations are renewed every five years.

What are the steps to file a DBA in Illinois?

Sole Proprietorships and Partnerships

Some counties will have a different order of steps and allow a business to obtain their Certificate of Assumed Name before publishing the legal notice.  In this instance, proof of the publication must be submitted to the County Clerk’s office no later than 50 days from the date of application.

Step 1 – Obtain the Form

The Assumed Business Name form is available from the County Clerk’s office.  Registration is only required in the county where the business is physically located. 

Step 2 – Fill out the Form

Information that is commonly requested includes:

  • Name and address of the business owner
  • Business name being applied for
  • What the business does

In most counties, the form will need to be notarized before filing.

Step 3 – Legal Notice Publication

A legal notice is required to be published in a newspaper that has circulation in the
county where the business is located BEFORE filing the name registration form.  Many counties will provide a list of available publications.

This notice will be published once a week for three consecutive weeks.  

Contact the newspaper of your choice.  Once the notice runs, the newspaper will send
an affidavit or Certificate of Publication and a copy of the original ad proving the notice ran. 

Step 4 – Submit Application

Take the Assumed Business Name form and the affidavit to the County Clerk’s office along with the filing fee and submit.   

Certificate of Assumed Name will be created, typically while you wait.

Corporations & LLCs

Step 1 –Download the Form

Download the form from the Secretary of State’s office – 

Step 2 – Fill out the Form

Step 3 – Submit theForm

Send the form and filing fee to:

Corporations adopting an assumed name
Secretary of State
Department of Business Services
501 S. Second St., Rm. 350
Springfield, IL 62756

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

Name Restrictions

DBAs can’t be registered using words that are related to banking or insurance unless the business is licensed to provide those services.

Protecting your business name

Registering your Assumed Name will not stop anyone else from registering the same name in Illinois. If stopping others from using your business name is important, you can protect it through a trademark – See how to protect
your name through a trademark.  

Questions?

If you have questions about the process, you can contact the:
Illinois Secretary of State – Department of Business Services
217-782-9520

 

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